Post No Bills: London Graffiti

Posted: January 3, 2007 in Episode 003, People

Tuesday, Sept 19, Following Banksy Through the Streets

London graffiti tour of works by Banksy, Eine and El Chivo, by photographer Martin Bull. Video by Erika Ransom for Channel Zero.

Formats available: Quicktime (.mov), Flash Video (.flv)

Today I went on a walking tour with Martin, looking at graffiti, most notably of the Banksy pieces, videotaping again for Channel Zero. Martin began by explaining how he learned about graffiti in London, “I’m not an expert. It’s just that I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around the streets like a stray dog. People look at me when I take photographs, because people are always a bit surprised I’m taking a photograph of a wall.”
Banksy’s work is interesting because it is usually clever, with some sort of comment on society and life. As he wrote in his recent book Banksy Wall and Piece, a collection of his previous chap books with many photos of his pieces in London and around the world, “The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit…The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl their giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff…Well, they started this fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.”
Martin, Nhatt and I spent about four hours wandering around the Shoreditch, South Hackney, Brick Lane and Hockston area, and I was able to see several nice pieces: a small rat opening a lock, another rat with wire cutters, a little girl holding a balloon, a riot cop with a smiley face standing against a wall, Bush and Blair dressed in banana suits with banana guns, an enormous rat holding a file and a fork against the world.
The last piece I saw on our walk was the famous Banksy combat helicopters adorned with pink bows. We could only see a small portion of the stencil, just enough to see that it was actually there, as the rest of the large piece was obscured by a new advertising billboard built onto the wall. How fitting, the combat helicopters lost in battle, a message fighting to be heard, drowning against the propaganda of the profit makers.
(Martin gives free tours, as a way to share his knowledge of where all these amazing pieces of street art can be seen. It’s lots of fun! Check out for more information, and also a gallery of his photographs. I suggest you bring chocolate, and relax with coffee afterwards.)

  1. martin says:

    mmmm, chocolate! great stuff erika. You made me sound vaguely intelligible. M x

  2. nick says:

    Way cool! I’d never heard of Banksy till I read your column and then checked out this short film, i love his stuff!!! thanx for turning me on to such a neat artist. cheers! nick

  3. Antibush says:

    Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
    What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
    We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

  4. gurzilla says:

    I like your blog in general, it makes for a nice adjunct to your MRR columnage-only in video-however, I cant seem to get the clips to play on my jacked up,thrift store computer.What a shame, though I still enjoyed coming here and reading your posts. Banksy’s work is awesome, quite “cheeky” I believe the term would be. Theres alot of Uk graffiti at you might want to scope out if you haven’t already, some nice stuff.
    Stay punk,

  5. […] I took a London graffiti tour with him last September, and its now on Channel Zero episode 4 (watch the clip here.) Explore posts in the same categories: DIY […]

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