A new Banksy has appeared in Hull on the floor of a permanently raised drawbridge. Now covered with the obligatory perspex. It depicts a young boy wearing a colander for a hat and holding aloft a toy sword. He is shouting ‘Draw the Raised Bridge’.
The piece has caused a lot of excitement in the city. Having a Banksy appear has made the headlines. No sooner as it was announced that the small stencil on the bridge might be his. People were flocking to see it from around the city.
Banksy in Hull
Since then, the whole Hull Banksy phenomena has become a bit of a saga. First off the mark was a vocal killjoy. A local councillor called John Abbott. He grumbled that Banksy’s art didn’t compare with “real art” and that it should be “cleaned off“. Maybe Mr Abbott had forgotten that Hull has literally just been the City of Culture. It’s possible that the irony of suggesting that art from one of the world’s best known modern day artists should be destroyed. Might just be lost on him.
In any event the grumpy councillor got his wish. Some local scallywag then did indeed attempt to destroy the Banksy. Smearing the main stencil image with white paint. The uproar was instantaneous. Already embarrassed by the councillor. Hull folk were now having to contend with the fact that someone had taken this new piece of art away from them. Needless to say they were furious.
Saving the Hull Banksy
Enter stage left, the hero window cleaner! Appalled by the fact that someone would willingly choose to destroy the Banksy. Jason Fanthorpe, a local man, got to the bridge with his special cleaning chemicals. There he worked on trying to restore the piece. Having heard late on Sunday evening that the piece had been destroyed. He went straight outside to work into the early hours. There he worked to try to restore it and to remove the whitewash.
Now the piece, slightly faded, but back to being a recognisable Banksy was finally protected by a council. Shamed into action by a vocal public who blamed them for not protecting the piece sooner. They slapped a piece of perspex on and surrounded the area with metal fencing. A slight overkill perhaps, perspex would have probably done the trick.
Meanwhile conspiracy theorists surmised that they had spotted Banksy himself lurking in a white van. Supposedly he was wearing a cap and glasses near the mural. Based on little evidence other than the seemingly conclusive proof that the the man in the van was looking “shifty”. That didn’t prevent local sleuths from determining that Banksy was caught and from media outlets picking up the story. “I’m 95 per cent it was him” one man was quoted as saying having literally never seen Banksy before.
Other Street Art in the Area
In addition to the definite Banksy. A few other pieces also appeared at the same time on streets near to the raised bridge. One piece on Cooper Street was text based and read:
The other on nearby Bromley Street was a stencil of a young girl sitting dispontant next to a dead upturned bird. A clear reference to Hull’s famous dead bod. The artwork is a copy of a previous Banksy piece which originally featured the girl with blue bird. Cue fevered speculation that one, if not both, of the additional pieces were also by the elusive mystery artist.
By the time we visited the area, the scrawled lettering had been protected by a piece of perspex. The girl with the bird had been protected by a massive van parked very close. So close in fact that you could barely sneak a picture of it through the gap. Sadly, neither are likely to be Banksy’s. Although judging by the amount of people visiting them. Many people believe, or hope, that they are.
The Scott Street Bridge
Wincolmlee was an area we’d not seen before. Off the beaten track, I doubt that this area saw much of the benefits of the City of Culture. It is run down and in need of some care. The Banksy itself is located on the Scott Street Bridge. Permanently raised, it is exposed to the elements and decaying. It would have once provided a crossing over the River Hull. The whole industry of this area would have depended upon. Now, much of the area appears derelict. Although looking at the river, overlooked by the cities industrial heritage, it is still strangely beautiful.
Controversy in Hull
The irony of the words of the councillor John Abbot were not lost on me as I wandered around. Telling the BBC that it should be cleaned off. That “it’s graffiti and all graffiti is damage”. He certainly set himself at odds with all the onlookers that were still visiting the piece. Clearly if the council had cared as much about the rest of the area than it does about a bit of graffiti then perhaps it would be in a bit of a better state. As it is, it’s pretty clear to this visitor, that this area has been neglected for years.
One thing I did take away is that the people of Hull are highly enthusiastic about having a Banksy. From the volunteers in the information booth at Hull train station. To the many street art spotters I met near the bridge, they are proud to have Banksy in the city. What’s more they are embarrassed that anyone would want to destroy or get rid of it.
Meaning of the Hull Banksy
So what does the piece mean? There has been speculation that the message ‘Draw the Raised Bridge’ is a reference to the vote to leave the EU. Hull voted strongly to leave and Banksy has previously created pro- EU street art. We can assume therefore that he is a remainer. Banksy himself however, is staying quiet on the subject. Maybe he just wanted to have a little fun.
The Banksy on the Scott Street Bridge in Hull and the surrounding artworks were visited on Thursday 1st February 2018. All the artworks are in the Wincolmlee area of the city. For more Banksy related stories have a look at these posts: