|Banksy's Reaper: rowing nowhere slowly|
My daughter tried to persuade me the other day that the picture is of a monkey, but I'm fairly sure it's supposed to be the Grim Reaper, rowing a boat as hundreds of people do in the Harbour every week. Not that this Reaper would actually be going anywhere, were he really rowing: he looks more like a gruesome old signalman yanking at his levers to change the points (and, no doubt, send two trains hurtling towards each other).
|on Stokes Croft|
One night I painted the side of Bristol's new harbour bridge [Pero's Bridge] with a message about the slave trade, which got painted over within six hours of daybreak. Afterwards, I made the slowest getaway in criminal history, splashing through the darkness in a tiny rowing boat before stopping off to paint my name on the side of the Thekla.
This tag was removed, against the wishes of the boat's owners (Thekla houses a music venue and nightclub), by Bristol City Council, whose long campaign against Banksy has distinctly Pink Panther-ish overtones, so the maverick dauber came back with the Reaper. It has survived the Thekla's 2006 refit and paint job, so that today Death occupies a square of dark grey on the otherwise green hull. Various patches of paint in greenish-greyish hues show where other tags have been deleted.
|Blue paint cleaned off by BCC|
While Banksy's fame grows around the world his Bristol pictures are deteriorating quietly. The guy hanging out of the window off Park Street has been pelted with blue paint, while a gorilla was recently painted over by a property owner who obviously doesn't keep abreast of the news. No effort has been made to protect any of these paintings, which would presumably be extremely valuable if they weren't fixed forever to a wall in Bristol. Perhaps there will, in due course, be a preservation campaign which will see the best of them sealed behind perspex; perhaps not.
|Fun while it lasted: Banksy vs the Bristol Museum (2009)|
UPDATE! As of August 2014 Banksy's Reaper has been removed from the side of the Thekla, iron plating and all, and will apparently be exhibited at the nearby M Shed Museum. I hope Banksy paints something else on the side of the ship, otherwise my walks into town will never be the same again...