Banksy Treasure Hunt

So, for anyone who doesn’t already know, I moved to Bristol 4 weeks ago. I have been working with an academic publisher down here on a 6 month temporary contract. Since moving here, my weekends have largely consisted of exploring and getting lost.

Through all of this I have become fixated on the works of well-known, but anonymous graffiti artist, Banksy. He is thought to be from Bristol, although his work can also be found in other British cities such as London and Brighton. His art is a political statement, and he is known for his hatred of the government.

Before moving here I was mildly aware of Banksy but hadn’t put much thought into seeing his work. I then found a website that depicted a ‘Banksy Walking Tour’. Then I was hooked. I now have a determination to find them all.

The first one I found is entitled ‘The Well Hung Lover’ and is painted on the side of a sexual health clinic (or so I am told!). But someone has defaced it with blue paint. Believe it or not it has been restored but remnants of the attack are still clearly visible.


The second one appears to be the grim reaper and is painted on the side of the Thekla boat in Bristol harbour. Thankfully, this one is intact. It would be quite impressive if someone managed to deface it, but that does make me wonder how Banksy managed to paint it in the first place! I was taking a picture of my friend in front of it last weekend when a lady came over and offered to take a picture of us both. She didn’t understand why we wanted the boat in the background. When we explained it was a Banksy she took her camera out and took a picture for herself. I guess that is how word spreads…

Today, I went exploring. There is a street in Bristol called Stokes Croft that has a lot of street art so I decided when heading back to my bus, to walk through this area (I have found I quite like street art, no matter who it is by!). As I headed towards it I went passed a bar that Sarah and I had been drinking in last weekend. I looked up and to my amazement found this. I can’t believe I missed it when we were there last week, it’s huge! People were looking at me quizzically as I stopped to take the picture. They either are ignorant of Banksy’s reputation or have lived with it so long they don’t care. Or they just don’t care. I guess not everyone is like me.

On my travels today I also found a piece which is depicting David Cameron and Boris Johnson as rioters, with the tag ‘Eton Posse’, the school they both went too. Under it, ‘hoax’ has been daubed in the same black spray. Behind it you can just see an outline of something else. Because of the research I had done into Banksy I was sure that this should be the spot of another Banksy showing a crouched policeman with a boy standing behind him about to burst a paper bag. I took the photo, came home and looked it up online. I was right enough; this is the spot of the paper bag. It was badly vandalised last year, someone decided to paint black paint all over it. In February this year, David Cameron and Boris Johnson appeared. This new stencil is not thought to be a Banksy.


I surprised myself at how much I cared about the fact that I can’t see the original work. I know that his work has been defaced before; the ‘Well Hung Lover’ is an example of this, also through my research a gorilla with a pink eye-mask painted on Fishponds Road, Bristol, had been mistakenly painted over but thankfully restored. It is sad that the paper bag hasn’t been so lucky and now with this new work on top, it probably is not possible. I really don’t understand why it means so much to me to find his work around the city. It feels like a kind of treasure hunt…

Regardless of my motivation behind it, I enjoy it. I guess that is the point of art, to be shown and appreciated. Whether it is hung in a gallery or on public walls. But when does mindless vandalism become street art? Topic for another blog perhaps…


About gemmag1985

Scottish girl living in Bristol - I turn 30 this year. Reading, running, shoes. View all posts by gemmag1985

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