Street art by Banksy is hugely popular. He is the worlds most famous street artist. This is especially true in the UK. Starting out on the streets of Bristol in the 90’s. He brought the work to a whole new audience when moving to London. There at the start of the new millennium he built his reputation even further. Now Banksy is known throughout the world. But the UK remains his home and it’s possible to see his work up and down the country.
Map of Banksy Street Art in the UK
Christmas Reindeers – Vyse Street
Just before Christmas 2019 Banksy street art appeared in Birmingham. A pair of reindeer’s appeared in the Jewellery Quarter. Designed to highlight homelessness during the festive period they appear as if about to launch into the sky. Seemingly attached, albeit with paint, to a bench which is sat against the wall. In order to announce it to the world, Banksy filmed a man called Ryan laying on it. Watching for 20 minutes he exclaimed ‘God Bless Birmingham‘ as lots of passers by stopped to give him food and drink. This despite Ryan not asking for anything.
The Kissing Policeman – Trafalgar Street
The original kissing policeman was originally found on the side of the Prince Albert Pub on Trafalgar Street. Now the same image is still there but it’s a copy. The original was removed from the wall back in 2011. It then sold at auction in 2014 for $575,000. The copy is still good though. It is in the same location as the original piece and even contains a protective layer of perspex. Such is the allure of Banksy that even a copy of his work is protected.
Aachoo – Vale Street, Totterdown
On a street in Totterdown, Banksy created this sneezing woman in December 2020. Painted just after the second UK pandemic lockdown it shows the woman dropping her walking stick and sneezing out her dentures. Painted onto the side of a house at the bottom of a street with a steep incline you’ve got to tilt your head to get the full Banksy effect.
Note – During March 2021 Aachoo was removed from the wall to the despair of local residents who very much saw it as gift to the area. The intention is for the work to be sold at auction
Angel Bust – Bristol Museum, Queens Road
Banksy’s 2009 street art exhibition Banksy vs Bristol Museum was key event in the artists transcedence. Already hugely popular it was an audacious move to take over the museum of his home town. However it was a move that the museum went along with. It gave Banksy real legitimacy in the city. In some way it tied him to the establishment. That is, it recognised that Banksy and his art was every bit as important culturally than that of the Bristol Museum. The exhibition itself was an enormous success and brought crowds of people to the museum. One piece you can still see there. A sculpture called ‘Angel Bust’ he left behind. It now forms part of the museums collection.
Girl with a Pierced Eardrum – Hanover Place
A parody of the famous Johnanne Vermeer painting, ‘Girl with Pearl Ear-ring‘. This piece of street art from Banksy can be found on Hanover Place near the docks. Appearing in 2014 the ear-ring in question is actually an exterior alarm. Banksy having used the furniture of the wall to use as placement for his piece. There doesn’t seem to be any specific extra reason for this work. It’s just a good use of a wall.
Girl with a Stick – Bridge Farm Primary School
In June 2016 a cartoon style street art piece of a girl with a stick appeared on a wall at the Bridge Farm Primary in Bristol. The piece itself features the girl running after the realistic depiction of a burning tyre. It was apparently a thanks for naming one of their school houses after him. Banksy is after all one of the city’s most famous sons. Like much with Banksy the piece has an alternative message. Perhaps conscious that unsanctioned street art on the side of school might not be a great message for kids. His note said “remember it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission”.
Marsh Lane Valentine – Barton Hill
Appearing just before Valentines Day in 2020. A small child has been stenciled against the side of a terrace wall. Holding a catapult she fires it up towards a heart in the sky. Hitting it, the heart splatters. The location of this piece has meaning. The area of Barton Hill is where Banksy first started. Indeed it can lay claim to be at the birth of Bristol’s early graffiti scene. It was in this area that the Barton Hill Youth Club first opened it’s doors for young artists to practice.
Mild Mild West – Hamilton House
Created in 1999 on the side of a wall next to Hamilton House in Bristol. It is in the Stokes Croft area of the city. An area well known for its street art and graffiti. It is at the heart of the street art scene in Bristol. Now one of the most iconic images in the city it shows a teddy bear about to through a molotov cocktail at three riot police. It is thought to be in response to violent police tactics used when breaking up rave nights. Once a popular underground activity in the nineties it would have particularly been so in Stokes Croft. Illegal raves often in abandoned spots and warehouses were stamped down on by the authorities.
Rose Trap – Thomas Street
Rose Trap is an older piece of Banksy’s stencil street art now located behind perspex on Thomas Street in Bristol. Featuring a rose in a mouse trap it is a rare surviving stencil from his early years. It looks quite unusual now the wall on which it has been painted has since been renovated. That is, all except the rose trap image which is set in a wooden frame.
Well Hung Lover – College Green
Painted in 2006. The famous well hung lover street art from Banksy shows a naked man hanging one handed from a window frame. In the window itself a man looks out as if scanning the area. Next to him is a woman, presumably the mans wife. The poor soul hanging single handed from the windowsill looks to have just escaped the bedroom. A secret affair is supposed. With it’s central location this is a popular and hugely photographed piece. It stood the test of time despite being vandalised on multiple occasions. It’s location has significant though Banksy actually painted the piece on the side of a sexual health center on Frogmore Street.
Draw the Raised Bridge
Appearing in 2018 on the Scott Street Bridge in the Wincolmlee area of the city. Banksy’s stencil of a little boy holding a toy sword and wearing a colander on his head become big news in the city. Hull had not long since finished its stint as the City of Culture. To have a Banksy appear was seen as a being real source of pride. It soon attracted visitors to what was a very run down and industrial part of town. You can read more about the Hull Banksy street art here.
Hanging Rat – Church Street
Appearing towards the end of 2019 the stencil of a clock appeared in Croydon. Complete with rat hanging on from the big hand it co-incided with the launch of Gross Domestic Product, Banksy’s shop. You can read all about that here but the basic premise was that this stunt was a means of claiming copyright. All products in the shop were on sale via a ballot after the shop itself (which was only really a window display) closed to the public. The hanging rat was on an electricity box outside so that remained.
Banksy Basquiat – Golden Lane, Barbican
The Banksy Basquiat appeared on Golden Lane near the Barbican in London during 2017. A tribute to Jean Michel Basquiat. The timing co-incided with an exhibition of Basquiat’s work nearby. It pays homage to an old piece by the American artist called ‘Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump’. The central figure is being frisked by two policeman. Opposite the mural is another smaller piece by Banksy. Showing a ferris wheel with people queuing up to enter a car with Basquiat’s famous crown symbol.
Designated Graffiti Area – Cargo on Rivington Street
The Designated Graffiti Area was one of Banksy’s favourite slogans for a while. Placing it around everywhere there are now very few examples of it left. One that is can be found in the courtyard of Cargo on Rivington Street. It shows a police officer holding a poodle on a lead. The words ‘Designated Graffiti Area’ are also stencilled onto the piece. This image dates from 2003 and is a rare surviving example of a piece of his work from this time in London.
Extinction Rebellion – Marble Arch
Appearing in 2019 Banksy has never laid claim to this work. However it is believed to be his, appearing as it did just after the Extinction Rebellion protests. The mural itself is just next to the Marble Arch. It’s an area with a tough attitude to illegal artwork so this is perhaps why Banksy has kept quiet about it’s provenance. The central image in this artwork is a child which looks very similar to some of the work in his Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. Now though it’s covered in perspex. It looks like, despite the councils hard line, they still have time to protect a Banksy.
Falling Shopper – Bruton Lane, Mayfair
On the side of an old office complex in Mayfair is the falling shopper. Quite high up and in a difficult location to get to it has never been defaced. First appearing in 2011 the mural is believed to be a dig at consumerism. The location would no doubt have played an important part in the image. Mayfair is one of the most exclusive shopping districts in the world. Despite plummeting to the ground, the shopper still holds on to those all important goods.
His Masters Voice – Cargo on Rivington Street
Another very rare example of a Banksy mural from his time in London. His Masters Voice can also be found in the courtyard of Cargo and features a dog with a bazooka. It sits there ready to blow up the gramophone which presumably is playing a recording of ‘his master’s voice’. This particular piece is also unusual in that it is also a collaboration. In addition to the dog and gramophone image there is lettering. This is from an artist called Stylo and he has painted his name around the outside of the piece.
I Love London Robbo Rat – Chiswell Street
The placard holding rat on Chiswell Street remembers two phases of Banksy’s activity. The first his penchant for stenciling rats all over the place. In ‘Wall and Peace’ he explains thinking behind them, saying:
The second notable fact about this particular piece is that it recalls Banksy’s rivalry with Robbo. For a time fans of the two artists would be actively trying to deface each others work. The message on the sign is one such defacement. The original message was ‘London Doesn’t Work’ but the altered version has endured. Perhaps in reverence to the fact that Robbo died in 2014 and this piece remembers him.
Phone Tap – Chrisp Street, Poplar
Banksy’s phone tap appeared on a wall in the Chrisp Street area of Poplar in 2011. Believed to be a response to the phone tapping scandal engulfing news international. The resultant furore would ultimately lead to the disbandment of the News of the World newspaper. For a Banksy this is quite a glib piece of street art. Perhaps he just had a bit of time on this hands.
Crazy Beat Royal Family – Church Street, Stoke Newington
Painted in 2004 on the site of one of Banksy’s previous works, a Coldstream Guard. The mural of the Crazy Beat Royal Family has become a local landmark. There was a local outcry in 2009 when jobsworth council officials decided to remove the work. Saying that all graffiti needed to be removed regardless of artistic value. Damage was done but the core of the mural at least remains. A variant of the main image for the piece itself originally appeared on the cover of Blur’s single ‘Crazy Beat’. Featuring a similar background it has a man standing arms aloft in a clown mask in the centre.
Snorting Copper – Curtain Road, Shoreditch
Featuring a policeman on his hands and knees snorting what appears to be a line of coke. This piece first appeared in 2005 only to be painting over in 2006. Originally painted onto the old wall of a disused toilet block. Eventually the whole area would find itself redeveloped. Knowing that the Snorting Copper was there somewhere. The developers decided to see if they could bring it back to life. Now the piece is exhibited behind glass in almost the exact location where it was originally created. You can read about the restoration here.
Yellow Lines Flower Painter – Pollard Row, Bethnal Green
The flower painter on Pollard Row appeared in 2007. Protected with perspex for a time it still become heavily tagged and corroded despite some attempts at protection. The piece showed a man resting with with his paint brush having just painted street lines. The lines though end up going up the wall instead of along the street, turning into the shape of a flower. Now the image of the man is gone completely replaced with other artworks. However the flower remains and can still be seen. It is located on the of the Bethnal Green Working Mans Club.
Hula Hooping Girl
A fun hula hooping girl appeared on Rothesay Avenue in Nottingham. Placed next to a damaged bike which had it’s back wheel stolen. The girl is shown playing hula hoop with the removed wheel. It’s quite a simple piece from Banksy where he’s obviously mad the most of the placement opportunity.
Note – As off 17 February 2021 the stencil element of the piece is no longer there. It was cut out of the wall and sold to Brandler Galleries in Essex. It remains to be seen whether the broken bike and the local authority lamppost will be added to any future re-sale.
Escape from Reading Gaol
A man in prison scrubs seemingly escaping from Reading Gaol. From the top of the wall he is climbing down what appears to be a continuous sheet of knotted paper. It is weighted down by an old fashioned typewriter with the paper still in it. This is perhaps a nod to the building which of course is famous for being the location of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’. Wilde was infamously sentenced to prison there after being convicted for gross indecency in 1895. The building now is a grade 2 listed building and forever associated with the injustice given to Wilde
Why might Banksy choose to put such an audacious artwork here? Well there is currently some controversy over whether it will be taken over by private property developers. A Banksy mural might go some way to drawing attention to its would be plight. It took a few days for Banksy to claim this one probably because he was putting together a little video featuring the voice of Bob Ross to articulate the meaning behind it. The video revealed parts of the process. Getting up the wall in the dead of night to stencil the side of a prison wall was quite brazen. But, according to the words of Bob Ross, art is “like an escape”. Could this be another layer of the meaning behind this piece?
Over Chistmas in 2018 a mural of a boy appeared on the side of a garage in the south welsh town of Port Talbot. Arms outstretched he is sticking his tongue out. Trying to capture the delicate flakes of what he believes is snow falling from the sky. Except that this is only one side of the mural. In reality the flakes are burning from a dumpster bin. The Banksy was removed to a former police station which it is hoped will soon be turned into a gallery.
Game Changer – Southampton General Hospital
Banksy was pretty active during the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Over the period he released a few pieces. The first a series of rat stencils in an unknown bathroom, possibly his but probably not though who knows. Then towards the end he created a short lived series of rat stencils in the tube. The piece that lasted was actually a painting called ‘Game Changer’ left to the staff at the Southampton General Hospital. It’s still there hanging on one of the corridors in the hospital.
Note – The piece that now stands in the hospital is now a replica. The original Game Changer was sold at auction on 23 March 2021 for a whopping £16.7 million. The money raised went to NHS charities.
On the seafront of St Leonards sits a child building sandcastles. Created in 2010 it sits behind a stone staircase leading down to the beach. The name of the supermarket Tesco is written on a number of the sandcastles. This was a time when Banksy was creating a number of pieces targeting the chain. You can read more about the St Leonards Banksy here.
Weston Super Mare
A remnant from the Dismaland event which took place in the town during 2015. It was a giant set piece art event which drew thousands of people to the area. As a thank you he gave one of the main attractions to the town. A giant sculpture of a pinwheel. For years it’s been in storage but just before the the lockdown plans where afoot to place it in the centre of town. As of now a date hasn’t been confirmed for when it will be erected but it’ll hopefully be soon.
Quick Guide to Banksy Murals in Britain
A List of all the Banksy Murals in Britain
- Christmas Reindeers in Birmingham
- Kissing Policeman in Brighton
- Angel Bust in the Bristol Museum
- Girl with the Pierced Eardrum in Bristol
- Girl with a Stick – Bridge Farm School in Bristol
- Marsh Lane Valentine on Barton Hill in Bristol
- Mild Mild West on Hamilton House in Bristol
- Rose Trap on Thomas Street in Bristol
- Well Hung Lover on College Green in Bristol
- Draw the Raised Bridge in Hull
- Hanging Rat on Church Street in Croydon
- Banksy Basquiat on Golden Lane in London
- Designated Graffiti Area on Rivington Street in London
- His Masters Voice on Rivington Street in London
- Extinction Rebellion on Marble Arch in London
- Falling Shopper on Bruton Lane in London
- I Love London Robbo Rat on Chiswell Street in London
- Phone Tap on Chrisp Street in Poplar, London
- Crazy Beat Royal Family in Stoke Newington, London
- Snorting Copper on Curtain Road in London
- Flower Painter on Pollard Row in London
- Seasons Greetings in Port Talbot
- Game Changer in the Southampton General Hospital
- Tesco Sandcastles in St Leonards
- Dismaland Pinwheel in Weston Super Mare
- Hula Hooping Girl in Nottingham
- Aachoo in Bristol
- Escape from Reading Gaol