Avon And Somerset Constabulary (pink) was made by the internationally acclaimed street artist Banksy in 2002. The spray paint on canvas comes in an edition size of 10 and pays homage to Banksy’s hometown of Bristol and the local law enforcers, the Avon and Somerset Police. The artwork comes in two iterations with pink or blue backgrounds. Other versions of Avon And Somerset Constabulary were also created around the same time – such as a variation with a red and white striped background.
This early work was made around the time of Banksy’s move from Bristol to London, before the artist found international fame. Avon And Somerset Constabulary is less scornful of the police than Banksy’s later works. In this piece the police officers look incompetent rather than dangerous. Later prints and paintings featuring the police, like Flying Copper (2003) and Stop And Search (2007) are far more critical about the threat of police brutality, the increasing ‘nanny state’ and how law enforcers are more of a danger to the public than protectors.
“Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place,” Banksy wrote in his 2005 book, Wall and Piece. It is almost prophetic that in 2008, close to eight years after Banksy made Avon And Somerset Constabulary, that Bristol became the first city in England to get an anti-graffiti police team. That Banksy’s graffiti has been protected by the city council sends the wrong message to other graffiti artists, the police force has argued – a statement that no doubt vindicates Banksy’s own views about the police.
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