Enigmatic British street art pioneer Banksy recently completed a month-long residency in New York City, which involved the mystery artist creating a terrifying Grim Reaper/bumper car setup, a real fake Banksy stall, a rejected New York Times op-ed, and cryptic Youtube videos that weren’t ever really explained.
Now that New York is over and done with, whispers are circulating that Banksy will be looking for a new regional outlet for his next biting social satire residency, and some eyes have turned to Melbourne. Banksy visited in 2003 and made his mark, dotting his famous stencils in various locations throughout the city – most of which have since been destroyed by vandals, council and construction workers and (in one hilarious instance) a well-meaning housesitting father-in-law who was handy with a paint roller.
After one such destruction in 2010, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle extended an invitation to Banksy to return to the city, and Tourism Victoria chief executive Leigh Harry put the people of Melbourne’s desperate need to inflate our sense of artistic worth in words, saying that “The fact that Banksy chooses to create his art in Melbourne, reinforces Melbourne’s credentials in this creative field. Should Banksy wish to return to Melbourne to undertake any more art, he would be welcomed back.”
Less eager for Banksy’s return, however, is the Victoria Police, with Transit Divisional Intelligence Unit Acting Sgt Paul Luck telling the Herald Sun that Banksy would most certainly not be welcome back to ‘decorate’ Melbourne’s walls and laneways. “If he hasn’t got permission to put it (graffiti) somewhere then it’s a crime and we will encourage whatever bit of property that it’s been put on, we will encourage them (the owners) to remove it,” Sgt Luck said.
Residents Against Graffiti Everywhere founder Steve Beardon, representing grumpy old men everywhere, plainly and simply said “Banksy can go to hell as far as I am concerned and he should stay away.”