‘Banksy vs Bristol’ is exhibiting in town so we trotted off dutifully at the weekend to see yet more of our city’s’ protégé at work in a very different setting. Banksy has been an institution and a reason to be proud of coming from Bristol (as long as you are either aged between 12 and 35 or are 35+ but still ‘down with the kids’) for as long as graffiti has been considered an acceptable art-form and something that is actively protected by communities and councils across the globe. For someone who closely guards their identity, Banksy has a huge status and following; his work is revered and studied, with a long and talented line of imitators and cities squabble over whether or not that certain piece of graffiti is in fact ‘a real Banksy’ or just a very good replica. I have even seen the fact that one of his huge pieces features imposingly on the side of a building to be used in the sales pitch for rental of said building! We are talking about a large monopoly of the graffiti scene in the UK.
The exhibition was done very well, with Banksy making his mark on various pieces throughout the museum and not just his own installations, which is a great way to lure those who may not have set foot inside the museum if it were not for his work showing there; after all, this is clearly someone who is passionate about art. The classic Banksy images are all on display along with some of his well known installations; 2007’s Glastonbury ‘Stonehenge’ inspired scene comprising of portaloos sees you out of the museum and his playful riot police are frolicking at the entrance. The part I most enjoyed was his animatronic-fuelled comment on life; caged birdlike CCTV cameras, battery hens fostering McDonalds chicken nuggets as their offspring, a rather damaged, forlorn TweetyPie and a huge goldfish bowl containing a fish finger that Capt’n Birdseye himself would’ve been proud of gaily swimming around. A great way to spend your afternoon if you like art, are interested in street culture, would like to learn more about it, have children who are determined that they hate museums and for those who truly can’t see the difference in a £1.99 burger from the golden arches and where it actually comes from.