Banksy Tour in Bristol, Bristol

Banksy Tour in Bristol (Self Guided), Bristol

Visiting Bristol is like browsing an outdoor urban gallery. Roaming the streets here you will find it difficult not to come across state-of-the-art graffiti adorning the city walls – boldly displayed in narrow passageways, backstreets or on buildings – depicting wry humor and subversive images of pop-culture.

Bristol is also where one of the greatest enigmas of recent times – Banksy – hails from. This quasi-anonymous home-grown graffiti artist extraordinaire, world famous for his satirical and thought-provoking street paintings with underlying social commentary, sometimes combined with slogans, has inspired a new generation to take to the streets to create innovative and dynamic art.

Among Banksy's iconic pieces, still available for viewing free of charge, there are: Girl With a Pierced Eardrum – one of his latest creations in Bristol, dated 2014; Well Hung Lover – Britain's first ever legal piece of street art from the 1990s; Queen Ziggy – appeared in time for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012; and more.

To help you on your graffiti-hunting way to some of the main street art hotspots in Bristol, featuring the remaining Banksy works, check out this self-guided walking tour.
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Banksy Tour in Bristol Map

Guide Name: Banksy Tour in Bristol
Guide Location: England » Bristol (See other walking tours in Bristol)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.0 Km or 4.3 Miles
Author: stacey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Girl with a Pierced Eardrum
  • Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery
  • Banksy - Well Hung Lover
  • Queen Ziggy
  • The Mild Mild West
  • Rose on a Mousetrap
  • Take The Money And Run
  • Cat and Dog
Girl with a Pierced Eardrum

1) Girl with a Pierced Eardrum

One of the latest of Banksy's creations in Bristol (October 2014), this one is located on the side of a building in Albion Docks in Hanover Place, in Bristol's Harbourside. If you look out for the clock tower and the nearby burger van, you'll see it. The mural features a satirical take on Vermeer’s famous “Girl with a pearl earring”, replacing the earring with an outdoor security alarm box on the wall.

It emerged right after the media had reported the arrest (and subsequent identification) of the elusive graffiti artist. Even with the black paint splattered over it in less than 24 hours after its appearance, the mural is in no way less gorgeous – in fact, some reckon the additional dripping paint only added a quirky charm to it.
Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery

2) Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery (must see)

The Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery is a large museum and art gallery in Bristol. It is run by the city council with no entrance fee. The museum includes sections on natural history as well as local, national and international archaeology. The art gallery contains works from all periods, including many by internationally famous artists, as well a collection of modern paintings of Bristol.

The highlight of the museum is the Banksy sculpture, Paint Pot Angel, which stands in the Museum’s sculpture hall and is on permanent display. In true Banksy style, the sculpture features an angel covered by a can of pink paint. It has become an iconic piece of Banksy's work, attracting thousands of Banksy fans from all over the world each year.
Banksy - Well Hung Lover

3) Banksy - Well Hung Lover

Well Hung Lover, aka Love Cheat, is a stenciled graffiti depicting an adulterous couple: a suited man on the left, and a woman in lingerie on the right, touching his shoulder. The suited man is the woman's husband, and, suspecting her of having an extramarital affair with the naked man hanging from a windowsill by his right arm (his left arm covering his genitals), is looking out of the window to search for him.

Banksy suitably painted this provocative piece – showing him at his finest, playing on words to his heart’s content – on the side of a building that used to be a sexual health clinic on Frogmore Street. Being approximately 5 meters (16 feet) above street level, in order to get to the appropriate height and maintain the mural's secrecy whilst creating it, scaffolding had to be erected, covered with tarpaulin. After three days, the City Council removed the scaffolding and discovered the artwork.

The clinic has since relocated, but the mural is still in place despite the Council's policy to crack down on graffiti. When the Council bought the building from the member of the band Massive Attack who had commissioned the piece, it surveyed the people of Bristol, 97% of whom voted for keeping the graffiti in view, as it "brightened up" the area. The retrospective permission granted for the mural thus made it the first legal piece of street art in the UK.

Well Hung Lover is a dedication to the insolent attitude of Bristol. Unfortunately, it was damaged by paintball attacks, but – hey – that’s part of the game, innit!
Queen Ziggy

4) Queen Ziggy

A wall on Upper Maudlin Street, near the Bristol Children’s Hospital, previously daubed by Banksy, was re-painted again in 2012 – this time with a startling black-and-white image of the Queen. The painting mysteriously, and timely so, appeared as the country celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne. Banksy is firmly believed to have made this piece as his own tribute to Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, depicting the crown-wearing monarch with a jagged blue and red lightning flash across her face, just like the 1970s David Bowie creation Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane.

The artwork adorns the wall next to Bristol charity the Grand Appeal, which raises money for the Children's Hospital.
The Mild Mild West

5) The Mild Mild West

Perhaps the most well-known piece of street art in Bristol, The Mild Mild West is a mural by Banksy, sited on No. 80 Stokes Croft. It depicts a comic teddy bear throwing a petrol bomb at three cowering policemen.

Banksy drew it over three days in broad daylight in 1999 in response to various unlicensed raves and parties held in abandoned warehouses around Bristol in the 1990s, that drew increased attention from the police. A specific trigger for the mural was such an event at Winterstoke Road, where riot police began to attack party-goers.

This artwork is popular with the local community who consider it a good symbol of the heritage around Stokes Croft. It has been cited as an archetypal piece of Bristol culture, perfectly summing up the local spirit: open and friendly like teddy bears, unless threatened and therefore having to defend themselves with Molotov cocktails.
Rose on a Mousetrap

6) Rose on a Mousetrap

This artwork by Banksy is found on the side of a house with a frame around it to protect from vandalism. Although such practice is rather commonplace in London and other big cities, this is the only such framed piece in Bristol, which tells a lot about the pride the locals feel for their home-born artist. Even his earliest works – dating as far back as the 1990s – are still intact and revered throughout the city.

In this particular case though, the Bristolians loved the “trapped rose” so much that pushed themselves even further by buying a glass and a frame to protect it from tagging. They say at least 20 residents donated money to the cause, thus making it the best protected Banksy street painting in the city.
Take The Money And Run

7) Take The Money And Run

Take the Money and Run is one of Banksy’s earliest and longest surviving works in Bristol. This wall piece was painted collaboratively with two other street artists, Inky and Mobz.

The mural depicts the silhouettes of three thieves against a colorful backdrop. Back in the day, Banksy painted freehand rather than used stencils and the influence of graffiti on his art was still strong, which is evident in the abstract mix of swirling colors and the style of lettering.
Cat and Dog

8) Cat and Dog

If you find yourself in Bristol, you have the opportunity to witness the early artistic prowess of the renowned graffiti artist Banksy. One of his captivating creations, titled "Cat and Dog," can be found at the junction of Robertson Road and Foster Street in the vibrant neighborhood of Easton. This particular mural was crafted during Banksy's time as a member of the DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), signifying an early milestone in his artistic journey.

The artwork itself portrays a cat holding an aerosol can, poised as if preparing to unleash its creative expression on the surrounding walls. Accompanying the feline are two guard dogs, their presence evoking a sense of tension and imminent action. The combination of these elements creates an intriguing juxtaposition between innocence and threat, a characteristic often found in Banksy's thought-provoking pieces.

Adjacent to the imagery, on the right side of the mural, you will encounter a profound quote that serves as a self-referential nod to the artist's work. It reads, "There are crimes that become innocent or even glorious through their splendor, number, and excess." This quote highlights Banksy's ability to challenge societal norms and provoke contemplation through his art, exploring themes of excess, rebellion, and the impact of scale.

Bristol, the birthplace of Banksy, proudly claims him as one of its own. His anonymous and subversive art has gained global recognition for its satirical commentary on contemporary issues and the establishment. As you explore the streets of Bristol, you may stumble upon other notable works by Banksy, making it a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and admirers of urban creativity.

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