In London? See some Banksy for £7.20.

Banksy-logoI recently visited London for a one week vacation with my wife. The first couple of days we did the typical tourist sites: The Tower of London, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, the excellent Churchill Museum and War Rooms, and the wonderfully eclectic Victoria and Albert Museum.

Having seen Banksy’s fascinating movie “Exit Through The Gift Shop“, I made it a priority to hunt down some of his street art. Sitting in my hotel room with a laptop on my knees, I hatched a plan to see the pieces detailed below.

Many of his works have been removed or destroyed, but there are still a handful that remain, mostly protected by perspex (a.k.a. plexiglass).

This site of top current Banksy locations was invaluable to me as I planned my day:


View London Banksy locations in a larger map

1. Banksy: “Choose Your Weapon”

Nearest tube: Borough on the Bank branch of the Northern line (0.9 miles west of site)
Art location: Corner of The Grange and Grange Road

“Choose Your Weapon” was the first Banksy image I targeted. As I walked about, I wasn’t sure exactly where on The Grange it was located and in what condition it would be in if I found it. Having never seen a live Banksy, I didn’t know if it would be on the back wall or inaccessible place of one of the apartment complexes I passed.

Of course, I approached on the wrong end of The Grange and had to suffer the full distance before finally discovering it. Probably because of my uncertainty and confusion, it was truly stunning to run across on the street. In fact, of the four Banksy’s I saw, I enjoyed it the most.

I love the contrast between the flat, abstract dog and the beautifully rendered man and chain. I find it remarkable that the man’s hoodie can have so much volume and detail, all via a stencil and a spray can. Amazing.

Full Image:

banksy-choose-your-weapon

Detail 1:

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Look how beautifully that chain is rendered (click image for a larger view). Hard to believe it is done with stencil and spray paint.

Detail 2:

banksy-choose-your-weapon-detail-2

Full Site:

banksy-choose-your-weapon-site

Walking Map from Nearest Tube:


View Larger Map

2. Banksy: “If Graffiti Changed Anything”

Nearest tube: Great Portland Street on the Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan lines (0.3 miles north of site)
Art location: Corner of Clipstone Street and Cleveland Street

Once again, I approached this piece from the wrong end of the street, and once again, I wasn’t sure if I would even find it or if it was still there. However, as with “Choose Your Weapon” I was hit with a bit of joy when I finally spotted it on the wall across the street. It was nice to see my first Banksy rat.

Like “Choose Your Weapon” this one is protected by perspex.

Full Image:

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Detail:

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Have you ever looked at a rat and said, “beautiful”?

Full Site:

banksy-if-graffiti-changed-anything-site

Walking Map from Nearest Tube:


View Larger Map

3. Banksy: “Falling Shopper”

Nearest tube: Oxford Circus on the Central, Victoria and Bakerloo lines (0.4 miles north of site)
Art location: On the Bruton Street side of Bruton Lane, about 20 feet up

“Falling Shopper” was the only Banksy I saw which wasn’t protected by perspex. That’s because it was painted about 20 feet above street level on the side of a building. It is located in a part of London with a high density of upscale shops, certainly on purpose.

Full Image:

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I love the soft, subtle shadow under the girl and shopping cart which pops it off the wall.

Full Site:

banksy-falling-shopper-site

Walking Map from Nearest Tube:


View Larger Map

4. Banksy: “Graffiti Painter”

Nearest tube: Ladbroke Grove on the City and Hammersmith & City lines (0.2 miles west of site)
Art location: Corner of Cambridge Gardens and Portobello Road

“Graffiti Painter” was the last Banksy image I found and was my second favorite of the bunch. I love the contrast of the traditional graffiti tag with the classic Banksy stencil-rendered man carefully painting that tag: clever and beautiful.

This one had the added drama of the “Robbo” over-tag. See the abbreviated story of Banksy and Robbo on Banksy’s site here and a Robbo-centric side of the story in the TV documentary, “Graffiti Wars“.

While you are in the Notting Hill area, check out the close-by and fun Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising. It will put you in the proper mood to receive the advert-hating Banksy.

Full Image:

banksy-graffiti-painter

Detail 1:

banksy-graffiti-painter-detail-1

Detail 2:

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Full Site:

banksy-graffiti-painter-site

A Little Team Robbo (seen on my walk to “Graffiti Painter”):

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Walking Map from Nearest Tube:


View Larger Map

My Banksy-day was a small but enjoyable introduction to the London street art scene for the low, low price of a £7.20 all-day tube pass. Whether you love Banksy or hate him, you’ve got to respect the man’s mastery of cardboard, an x-acto blade and a spray can.

I came to London a fan of Banksy and his work. I left an even bigger one.

P.S. If you are on Instagram, follow @ST_ART_LDN for a wider look at the London street art scene. Some more of my pix are there at my account: @mitchf