Art for Art’s Sake

April 8, 2021

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I was driving North the other day, proper grim. Off to pop round some granny’s attic to look at a vintage guitar. You can do that in lockdown if you sell guitars. I drive all over the place, look in attics. Grim North, then round the corner looms the Angel of the North. Gormley’s masterpiece. Wrought from Cor-Ten steel, stood on its own hill watching out for those Southerners sneaking up the A1. Should have been fitted with laser beams to zap that fucker Cummings.

Just stunning. It is solid, in your face, awesome, a proper sculpture for the layman to get his teeth in to and walk his dog around. A poor man’s
 Christ the Redeemer with rain and rust, ‘cos he’ll never see Rio for

I met another sculptor once. Proper Northern bloke, Ray Lonsdale. His work is amazing, huge life-like steel figures, incredibly detailed. Check out Ray’s website Two Red Rubber Things.

I was in his workshop and he pulls out a small Cor-Ten angel from under the bench. A model he’d been working on well before Gormley unveiled the Angel. Who would believe him now? So that was scrapped. Hard work this art lark, if you want to eat and keep body and soul together.

Banksy recently graced Nottingham with one of his splendid anarchic artworks. Hula Girl. Defacing a street corner townhouse in a poorer area of town. Proper Saturday Night and Sunday Morning territory.

Creeping about stealthily in the middle of the night. Decides to paint some unwitting fucker’s wall. I’m guessing he didn’t knock on the door and ask.

“S’cuse me I’m Banksy, can I paint your wall?”

“Fuck off before I twat you, it’s 2.30 a.m, weirdo.”

Now ordinarily that would be bang out of order – skulking around after dark and spray painting the side of a private house, okay now a beauty salon, but it probably was a house, once. Criminal damage.

But this street art is by the world-renowned Banksy. So that’s alright then. Oi, clean that off, hooligan! The man does some top stuff and supports worthy causes but it’s still criminal damage…

Banksy will not be obliterated by City Council workmen, or deemed graffiti. This is art, of the highest order, because it is worth a lot of money. If you or I had done it, it would be a piece of crap, vandalism.

What right does the Council have to paint out the side of a private building because they don’t like the art? Don’t bother with an answer, they are a law unto themselves and decide what is, or not, acceptable public viewing.

Then before you know it, in a dawn raid, some wily fucker art dealer nips in, offers a serious wedge and the whole lot is chopped out of the side of the building and spirited away, almost as quickly as it appeared.

Now the good burghers of Nottingham are up in arms and want their wall back. There’s a Robin Hood story in there somewhere, but was it the rich giving to the poor? First a painting and then a wad of cash.

There’s now a petition up and running for the return of all the bricks. What complete bollocks. Banksy and art is a commercial exercise and that’s exactly what’s happened. A deal’s done, money changed hands, value maintained, mystique intact and publicity gained. Was it an art dealer buyer or was it actually Banksy, buying back his own in some philanthropic twist? Minimum value established for future doodles. Move on to the next one.

The whole Banksy phenomenon would never have happened without commerciality, money and huge media exposure. All through desecration, mostly a criminal act, whether you like it or not, I do. Without he’d just be another underground struggling artist.

The art world is commercial big bucks and has been for centuries. You could possibly starve to death in a garret, go barking mad pickled in absinthe, chop your ear off, or alternatively, if you are very lucky, sell out. How many artists have had rich sponsors, minted benevolent buyers? Rocketed to fame because some wealthy connected bastard believed in them or shagged them or both. Big hitters with serious money can pull many strings and manipulate the medium, create a market from nothing. Artists in their own right, just a different format.

Never politically correct I say “he”. Banksy is an organisation. Ideas kicked about, stencils cut, masks on, squirt squirt and another one’s done. I doubt they are certified limited editions, with stencils ritually destroyed, witnessed by an auditor.

No one person loads a van, drives miles to site, erects a 30-foot high scaffold tower, acts as his own lookout, fixes a series of stencils, paints a wall, takes the scaffold down and loads the van again, on their own, in the middle of the night. Have you heard how much noise a scaffold tower makes going up and down?

Anonymous – yeah right. I bet the blokes in the local Bristol tool hire depot know who he is. “£200 deposit and some photo ID please Mr Banksy, you know the score”. Probably gets special night-time rates.

Then again Big B no doubt has his own workshop, yard, vehicles, plant and secretary by now and why not.

So don’t moan about Hula Girl going. It was just a re-hash of girl with a gun – balloon – flowers, whatever. It’s been and gone and generated publicity for everyone. Now, pay some attention to your local artists. The Lace Market and Woolpack Lane are a good starting point. Kid30 and Boaster adorn the shop wall with wicked regularly changing images. They are proper working commercial artists, not skulking about in the dark. Brighten up your kid’s bedroom and commission your own street art.

Kid30 has just decorated a limited run of our new pedalboards, The Mule Board, take a look and buy one, they are already increasing in value already… If the money’s right buy one and I’ll burn the rest, what an investment!!

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