Satirical street artist Banksy has undoubtedly had a prolific output for about 15 years. His distinctive stencilled artwork has largely and regularly appeared in London. However, many of the original street pieces by Banksy are no longer visible (or they can barely be seen) for they have been vandalised, whitened by the City Council or even peeled off from the walls for collection. Here is a selection of the ten best Banksy artworks still visible around London.
1. Guard Dog and His Masters Voice
These are two pieces are among Banksy’s earliest creations in the capital. The artist painted them is 2003 in the courtyard of the nightclub Cargo, which is also open during the day. It is situated on Rivington Street, in the heart of Shoreditch which many considers the Mecca of street art in London. This little and cosy courtyard is an absolute gem for street art lovers as there are great pieces to be seen like works from French artists C215 and Thierry Noir, Israeli artists from Broken Fingaz Crew, Italian artist Ozmo and last but not least two pieces by Banksy which are protected by perspex.
One more time Banksy mocks the authorities as “Guard Dog” represents a policeman and his poodle patrolling in a designated graffiti area. “His Master’s Voice” also called the “HMV Dog” features a dog pointing a bazooka towards a gramophone. The artist thus highlights the contrast between conservatism and elderly times represented by the gramophone and youth and liberalism embodied by the rebelling animal.
2. Graffiti Painter
The artwork is situated near the corner of Portobello and Acklam Road in Notting Hill and marks the entrance to the MuTate gallery. It represents Spanish painter Diego Velasquez at work painting a graffiti that reads “Banksy” in red colour paint. Banksy’s piece brings two forms of art together that is to say Baroque painting and street art. The stencil has reportedly been sold for £200,000 although it is still visible and intact behind a layer of Plexiglass. The removal is yet to be organised.
3. If Graffiti Changed Anything It Would Be Illegal
The artwork is located on a wall in Clipstone Street, Fitzrovia and appeared overnight on Easter Monday 2011. It features a rat standing under the sentence « If graffiti changed anything, it would be illegal », written in red capital letters. This sentence is a reference to a quote by Emma Goldman who campaigned for Women’s right and voting : « If voting ever changed anything, it would be illegal ».
Shortly after the mural appeared, a local campaign was launched to save it from being removed by Westminster City Council whose policy is to remove graffiti. But before the Council could take action, the mural was covered by a protective layer of perspex. Today, the mural is still visible as it is still protected by Perspex but most of it has been covered in tagging.
4. Choose your weapon
This mural can be seen on a wall in The Grange, Camberwell Southwark district of South London. It first appeared in 2010 and was boarded over shortly after. The street piece features a hooded man with a barking dog on a leash in the same style as Keith Haring’s “Barking Dog”.
The representation of the dog contrasts with the hyper-realistic appearance of the master. The stencil pays tribute to the famous American artist who passed away in 1990. Now, the mural is protected by Perspex.
5. Shop Till You Drop
Also known as the “Falling Shopper”, the mural is located on Bruton Lane on the side of a large office building in the heart of the West End district. The piece is over two storeys up and represents a woman falling with a trolley from the top of a building. Banksy’s aim was to point out the dangers of consumerism.
The mural was painted in November 2011 in broad daylight. A scaffolding and a tarpaulin were used to make sure nobody caught the artist red-handed. “Shop Till You Drop” is still visible and quite damaged.
6. Phone Tap
This piece can be found in a small car park on Chrisp Street in East London, just two minutes away from All Saints DLR station. Banksy represented a phone ringing next to an actual water tap. Next to it stands a confused person saying “Oh no… my tap’s been phoned”. This stencil humorously refers to the Rupert Murdoch’s phone hacking scandal that was all over the media in Summer 2011. “Phone Tap” has been quite intact since 2011 even though there are some multicoloured paint splatters around it.
7. Graffiti Wallpaper Hanging
This piece can be found beside Regent’s Canal tunnel and under the London Transport Police Headquarters in Camden. The mural, painted in 2009, represents a city worker covering the work of another graffiti artist painted in 1985 with grey wallpaper.
This wall became the battleground of a graffiti war between Banksy and the deceased London graffiti legend King Robbo. Shortly after, Robbo struck back and covered Banksy’s piece on the pretext that he broke the underground code of conduct. The wall undergone eight other modifications from both artists. The feud stopped when King Robbo was hospitalised for life-threatening head injuries. When Banksy heard about King Robbo’s serious health condition, he painted an ode to Robbo’s original graffiti piece. As a tribute to Robbo, the mural was restored to its original form with slight changes.
8. Very Little Help
Also known as “Tesco Kids”, Banksy’s mural is located on Essex Road, North London. Painted in 2008 on the side of a pharmacy, Banksy’s work depicts a group of three children pledging their allegiance to the British supermarket chain Tesco.
One of them is raising a flag composed by a Tesco carrier bag. Even though it was quickly covered in perspex, “Very Little Help” has been vandalised on several occasions and it is currently partially damaged. The flag has been painted over and replaced with a tag from Robbo.
9. I love Robbo Rat
Painted on Chiswell Street in Islington, Banksy’s piece depicts a stencilled ghetto rat holding a placard which originally read “London doesn’t work”. However, the street piece received a tag from
Robbo, Banksy’s rival graffiti artist, who reworked the placard by adding his name in red letters. Robbo is known for leaving his mark on many Banksy pieces.
10. Tribute to Basquiat
Two new murals by Banksy recently appeared in London in September 2017. They are located outside the Barbican centre in Central London. Both murals were created just a few days before the opening of the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at the centre. Both artworks were painted as a tribute to the American pioneering street artist. The first work by Banksy features a Ferris wheel with people queuing up at a ticket booth. The wheel’s passenger cars are replaced by crowns, one of Basquiat’s recurrent motif. The second mural is inspired by Basquiat’s 1982 work “Boy and Dog in Johnnypump”. Banksy added police officers searching the central character.
One must stay alert for new pieces by Banksy for the artist occasionally reveals new temporary works here and there in the capital that may vary from stenciled art. For example, the artist set up a sculpture entitled “The Drinker” inspired by Rodin’s “The Thinker” on Shaftesbury Avenue. This very statue was estimated £300,000 and was actually stolen by artist AK47. The latter returned it years later and renamed it “The Stinker” after he added a toilet seat.