When I arrived in Vale Street (yesterday), my first observation was how incredibly steep the hills around the area are and where Vale Street joins Park Street is quite treacherous [I have just read a Guardian article that says Vale Street is the steepest residential street in England] – fortunately it rarely snows in Bristol, but when it does this must be a no-go zone.
I picked up on a sense of excitement and a bit of a local buzz as trickles of people arrived to look at the brand new Totterdown Banksy and I overheard a conversation which painted quite a picture of a normally quiet and tranquil area… ‘nothing ever happens on our street, it is normally very quiet’ I overheard one young woman say.
Banksy hits walls when people least expect it and in places that tend not to be regular graffiti spots – this was on the side of a house that is in the process of being sold. The occupants have taken the house off the market and are probably reassessing the value of the property. [Update – the owners have not pulled out of the sale, but rather are safeguarding the artwork from being cut out and sold, which I think is a wholly admirable thing to do].
The stencil is called ‘Aachoo!’ and features an old lady who is sneezing so hard that she has dropped her handbag and her walking stick and worse, her false teeth have flown out in front of her. It is all so very Banksy. Incredibly, the Perspex sheet was placed over the piece within hours, which I suppose is a good thing because a lot of his work in Bristol gets tagged or vandalised – goodness only knows why.
Thanks to Paul H for pointing out the Banksy Diana banknotes that were attached to one of the pillars in front of the stencil. I hadn’t noticed these and I daresay nor had most other visitors – their eyes fixed elsewhere. What is extra interesting about these banknotes is that they were added after the photograph that appeared in the Guardian was taken. If that is the case then they were either put there by another artist or Banksy returned to attach them to the pillar – mysterious.
When I have done street art tours for colleagues at work, I call the tours ‘It’s not all about Banksy’, but today and on those very rare days that he sprays his stuff in his old home town it is all about Banksy.