Bristol's home-grown and anonymous graffiti artist Banksy is known across the world for his satirical and thought-provoking art. The Banksy versus Bristol Museum exhibition held in 2009 was one of the most successful ever, attracting record numbers of visitors. Now a new book's going on sale which tracks Banksy's legacy to the Bristol economy and his place in the history of art.
Banksy's work sells around the world for hundreds of thousands of pounds and the mere mention of his name has art-lovers salivating. But it was here in Bristol that Banksy made his first steps as a graffiti artist.
You can still find classic pieces in the city. 'Mild Mild West' was defaced with red paint in 2009 but before that had been around for a decade. Fortunately the clean-up work was quick and it's been largely restored. But other pieces haven't fared so well because despite their value, Banksy's works are vulnerable.
The Gorilla in a Pink mask - one of his most famous pieces - was painted over - and an over zealous council contractor also destroyed one in Albion Road.
Some have argued Banksy's works should be given listed status, but Professor Paul Gough whose book on the artist is about to be published says it was only ever meant to be temporary art.
– Paul Gough, Writer
One of the contributors in the book talks about putting plate glass over this artwork, of listing it, of making sure it's preserved, which flies in the face of what street art is, which is meant to be radical, temporary, interventionist, not something permanent. That's quite an interesting challenge and I think the City of Bristol is starting to wrestle with that one.
In 2009 Banksy pulled off his most daring stunt yet, sneaking into Bristol's City Museum and replacing many of the artefacts with his own work, including a burnt out ice cream van. Despite Banksy's notoriety the exhibition remained a closely guarded secret with only two officials at the museum aware of the installation. The elusive artist said he wanted to give something back to the city - and it did provide a boost to the local economy, attracting more than three hundred thousand visitors.
There is something about Banksy's dark humour and satirical take on the world that captures the imagination. But Paul Gough believes the key to our fascination with Banksy is his anonymity.
Banksy: the Bristol Legacy goes on sale next week. But it won't be the last word. Critics are eagerly awaiting the publication of Banksy's first book, due out in July.
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