Banksy – Bristol’s Most Famous Export?

One of Bristol’s most famous individuals is a name that has only relatively recently come to prominence. The name Banksy has now become synonymous with street art or graffiti and Bristol. His reputation has been exponentially enhanced by his elusive nature that has captivated both the UK and the world. His creations encompass imagery that is usually politically or culturally motivated with the sole aim of engendering an emotive response. His artwork has not only gained notoriety but also substantial value with images that have relevant provenance being worth tens of thousands of pounds or more.

In many ways, Banksy has become a focal point for satirical street art and is probably one of its most famous proponents. One of the most important features of Banksy’s street art, apart from his obvious anonymity, is the fact that his art is often created and displayed in publicly visible locations such as external walls. This, coupled with his irreverent attitude towards authority, has endeared him to a generation.

Banksy has been documented as stating that his main inspirations have included artists that have long been involved in the Bristol underground scene, one of which is an artist titled 3D, who was a graffiti artist himself and subsequently found the musical group Massive Attack. Banksy studied the style and form that 3D used and developed his own unique stencil form that has become his trademark. This stencil style was purportedly envisioned whilst hiding from the police under a refuse lorry. Although he did not use the technique of stenciling originally, it became his favoured method and one that he has now become renowned for, and as he claims himself, it is much less time consuming.

Apart from his work being displayed in public locations, Banksy has held his own exhibitions; the first of which was in Los Angeles in 2002 at a Silver Lake venue 33 1/3. The exhibition called Existencilism – an obvious reference to his favoured technique. Subsequent exhibitions, including Turf War that was based in a London warehouse, have only served to further grow his popularity. However, Banksy has not only exhibited artwork, he has also produced several films, the first of which titled Exit Through a Gift Shop. The film debuted at the Sundance Festival to critical acclaim and was nominated for best documentary at the Academy Awards, showing that he has a flair for almost any form of visual communication.

As means of expression, Banksy has also shown that he is able to use many different forms and methods to achieve the desired effect, as displayed with the Barely Legal spoof, which appeared in 2004 and which involved altered £10 notes. The currency had been reproduced with the head of Princess Diana replacing the Queens’s head and text changed to Banksy of England.

For many Banksy is an enigma, an aloof individual whose unconventional take on life appeals. Whether we will ever find out the true identity of this person is unsure, however with the notoriety he has achieved in recent years, it is certain that his message no longer goes unheard.


Drawn to Perfection

If you have visited the Minuteman Press Bristol studios recently, you’ll have noticed the beautiful artwork in our windows.

These pictures of hares, birds and other wildlife are the work of Bristol artist Dru Marland.

Having the pictures in our windows has opened Dru’s work up to a whole new audience, as she explains: “It’s like putting on an exhibition for the sort of people who don’t tend to go to galleries! Some people have gone in to Minuteman to ask about the pictures having seen them from the bus, which I think is rather cool!”

Dru grew up on a farm in South Wales, which was where her love of nature stems from. However, she also illustrates all manner of other things, and is currently creating a series of illustrations about important women in Bristol’s history. “I’ve started with St Werburgh, who wasn’t really Bristolian but there’s an area of Bristol named after her,” Dru explains. “It struck me there weren’t many streets in Bristol named after women, and there are very few pictures of them. So it’s ripe for catching up with”.

Find out more about Dru on her website Upside Down In Cloud.


A Call to Arts

Following exhibitions of work by local artists Emily Ketteringham and Jason Lunn, Minuteman Press Bristol has issued a call to other talented Bristol artists who would like their work displayed prominently in the windows of our Bedminster print centre.

The most recent display features the distinctive creations of Emily Ketteringham, which was a collection of six screen prints and collages depicting colourful buildings and locations in Bristol.

Peter Wise, director of Minuteman Press Bristol, said: “The sheer number of passers by that stop and smile as they view the artwork displays has been a really pleasant surprise. We hoped that fellow Bristolians would enjoy seeing Bristol in art and we’ve not been disappointed.”

Ryan Smith, Minuteman Press’s graphic designer, added: “The vision was to combine art with commerce, and to be able to give something back to the community. It is great that we have been able to achieve this.”