Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based street artist, political activist, and film director, active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique.
His works of political and social commentary have appeared on streets, walls, and bridges throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that he was inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist and founding member of the musical group Massive Attack.
Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. Banksy no longer sells photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, but his public “installations” are regularly resold, often even by removing the wall they were painted on. A small number of Banksy’s works are officially, non-publicly, sold through Pest Control. Banksy’s documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for the film. In 2014, he was awarded Person of the Year at the 2014 Webby Awards.
Banksy’s name and identity remain unconfirmed and the subject of speculation. In a 2003 interview with Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian, Banksy is described as “white, 28, scruffy casual—jeans, T-shirt, a silver tooth, silver chain and silver earring. He looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets.” Banksy began as an artist at the age of 14, was expelled from school, and served time in prison for petty crime. According to Hattenstone, “anonymity is vital to him because graffiti is illegal”. For 10 years in the late 1990s, Banksy lived in Easton, Bristol, then moved to London around 2000. He does all this and he stays anonymous. I think that’s great. These days everyone is trying to be famous. But he has anonymity.
Banksy is commonly believed to be Robin Gunningham, as first identified by The Mail on Sunday in 2008, born on 28 July 1973 in Yate, 12 miles (19 km) from Bristol.
Several of Gunningham’s associates and former schoolmates at Bristol Cathedral School have corroborated this, and in 2016, a study by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London using geographic profiling found that the incidence of Banksy’s works correlated with the known movements of Gunningham. According to The Sunday Times, Gunningham began employing the name Robin Banks, which eventually became Banksy.
- In June 2006, Banksy created Well Hung Lover, an image of a naked man hanging out of a bedroom window on a wall visible from Park Street in central Bristol.
- The image sparked “a heated debate”, with the Bristol City Council leaving it up to the public to decide whether it should stay or go. After an internet discussion in which 97% of the 500 people surveyed supported the stencil, the city council decided it would be left on the building. The mural was later defaced with blue paint.
Barry bought his daughter Jamie a Banksy book some years ago as a gift, so when she visited us on the boat in Bristol she was keen to look up a couple of Banksy works. After a bit of searching they found his ‘Well hung lover’ piece on a building wall.
The skeleton rower was painted on the side of a permanently moored ship which was easier seen from our boat while cruising the harbour.
The rest of the images are from our trip to Amsterdam where there was a Banksy exhibition showing.
When we were involved with Calendar Club Banksy calendars were some of the most popular sold with a percentage of earnings from them going to charities in Bristol.
We hope you’ll find the slideshow inspirational. (Click on an image, make it full screen, start the show and enjoy!)