Thought For The Day #2213 March 2014
Broadcast 13th of March 2014 on BBC Radio Bristol
Banksy’s in the news again today. It’s for his reworking of The Girl With The Heart Shaped Balloon which raises awareness about the Syrian Conflict. I enjoy street art and I’m a particular fan of Banksy. So I’d like to share a little anecdote about him and my cousin.
Back in 2009 his piece entitled Love Cheat on Bristol’s Park Street was vandalised with splats of blue paint. And because of his global fame many Bristolians viewed this as tantamount to defacing a work of art.
Coincidentally, around the same time, my cousin received a two week jail sentence. Not for the blue paint incident, but for other unrelated illegal street art. He too is a graffiti artist like Banksy. So you can imagine my surprise when the Council decided to clean the blue paint from the Park Street piece. On the one hand local authorities were paying to honour an artist but on the other hand punish a different artist.
It’s easy to be cynical about this, which I am, but overriding that is actually inspiration in the humble power of art. Using nothing more than coloured pigments Banksy has made a mockery of the law.
Whereas science and religion seek to provide answers, art excels at asking questions. What do I really believe in? What is the right thing to do? So in this sense I think art is truer to life, because life, like art, can’t be pinned down. It reminds us that we’d be wise not to invest too much in definitive answers. Because at some point our most fundamental assumptions will be brought into question by a splodge of blue paint.