Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

A couple of clowns and a Banksy

So, apparently, if you can’t take the art off the wall, you just take the wall? Or, I guess in this case the part of the wall you actually want… I have to say, stealing is not funny, the thought that someone actually made off with a section of wall from outside Poundland in Wood Green, north London kind of IS funny. As I followed the story in the paper with bemused interest, I couldn’t help thinking- “How?” and, “I wonder what the appeal for witnesses sounded like when read out loud.” The missing painting was by famous guerilla graffiti artist Bansky, the piece- Slave Labour.

It’s quite a smart piece, having appeared on the wall just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year; it pokes a satirical finger at British  national pride in that it depicts a young boy hunched over a sewing machine, making Union Jack bunting. The quirk of the piece was that there was actual bunting attached to the wall. (I wonder if it was purchased from Poundland) According to reports, Wood Green community had welcomed the appearance of the graffiti, and had been fostering a sense of pride in the artwork’s existence, until it, stolen?

“Graffiti art has a hard enough life as it is  –  with council workers wanting to remove it and kids wanting to draw moustaches on it, before you add hedgefund managers wanting to chop it out and hang it over the fireplace. For the sake of keeping all street art where it belongs I’d encourage people not to buy anything by anybody unless it was created for sale in the first place.” Banksy, 2008. 

Let’s paint this scenario: It’s late at night, you and a buddy (wall stealing is hardly a one man job…) creep into the alley, all dressed in black, (or, maybe clown suits- who knows) and proceed to cut out your desired section of wall, (I assume you would have to use and electric saw, which is why you could wear a clown suit- let’s face it- you could wear whatever you want if you’re making that much noise). Once the section is appropriately detached, the gear can then be packed up, and you can make off with your wall. Maybe you even have a getaway car. I would assume you would need one; two clowns walking down a dark road carrying a section of wall between them would surely arouse some suspicion from someone.

Huh. Apparently not. It seems that the section of wall was removed by invisible people, in utter silence, then carted off on a cloud of lightness, never to be seen again… Until it was spotted on an auction list in FLORIDA? Whoa, so it passed some form of customs too? Amazing. I know I sound hyper-critical, I just find it fascinating that such a thing could occur, and that it seems to be lost on some people that the graffiti was not a “gift” to the area, but the artist’s way of communicating an opinion on contemporary society. Sure, it might have brought more visitors to Haringey, and no doubt, in turn to Poundland, but I’m not convinced that was Banksy’s intention.

Since it’s disappearance this new collection of stencils and graffiti has appeared in the blank spot-

The piece of wall was removed from the auction an hour before it started, and is currently “being stored in Europe”. It’s a all a little sketchy. (ha) Especially since there don’t seem to be any “illegalities” surrounding it’s entry into the auction in the first place. How bazaar.

You can read more of this story here.

Images are from the Mail Online and the Mirror.


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Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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