Sunday, May 8, 2011

London: Banking on Banksy

London has many great neighborhoods. It's vast. It's beautiful. Pristine gardens and freshly painted everything.

Then there are the dodgy parts of town like Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane that take beauty to another level. The chipped-paint of a run down neighborhood mixes with London's financial district. The result is eclectic caf├ęs, a constant waft of Indian food, down right scary alleyways filled with graffiti, and people in business suits showing up for their lunch hour from the nearby office towers.

Perhaps this contrast is why Spitalfields and Brick Lane was the playground of graffiti artists like the untouchable Banksy. If you want to know more about Banksy, do a Google Image search. It's very satisfying. Or read his book. I took a gander through Wall and Pieces to prep for my Banksy hunt of London.

A few pages of the book that made me ponder and worship Banksy further:
"A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to."

This is good advice for a lot of life's sticky situations.

"There's no way you're going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover." --Metropolitan Police spokesperson
That's just awesome.

When I went in search of Banksy graffiti around his stomping ground, I came home with something I wasn't expecting: Not Banksy. I went to all the right places, or at least the places where I wasn't concerned for my safety, and everything has been painted over or had evaded my sharp eye. Nonetheless, I had a great day shooting photos of this colorful neighborhood.

First, I stopped at the Spitalfields Flea Market to pick up some fleas. 

Nice hair.
 Then I traipsed around the hood.

Hey there, Space Invader. I thought I left you in Paris.

Plus a black outfit and a desire to paint at 4 a.m.

Possibly the closest I'll get to the Sistine Chapel.

It's as if I planned for this pregnant lady to stand here. I love it when foreground and background come together spontaneously.

Caught in the act.

For a Bansky walking tour, it was an epic fail. But for a tour around a shady hood with great art, it was a huge success. That in itself is a lesson in travel. Sometimes our plans don't work out but we've got to roll with it. We've got to learn to love the moment more than anything else we wished would be there. 


  1. Mel HethMay 08, 2011

    I love those little space invaders. So cute.

    When I was in NY several years ago, we kept seeing "neckface" graffiti around Greenwich Village. Maybe he was Banksy's secret American arch nemesis.

  2. Brick Lane curry is the best in the world!
    Those old streets have a lot of Jack the ripper history too.


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