Banksy street art in London
The satirical street artist Banksy, best known for his stencilled graffiti, first came to prominence in Bristol’s underground scene in the 1990s. It was there he made his first large-scale works, such as 1997’s The Mild Mild West, which can be seen on No. 80 Stokes Croft.Since then, Banksy’s become a household name, producing traditional, canvas-based artworks and gallery exhibitions alongside his murals. But it was in the early 2000s that the street artist turned his attention on London. Throughout the city, visitors can see examples of his best-known works.
Here is our guide to the capital’s best Banksy murals. We’ve started in West London, not too far from Paddington Station, but feel free to pick off these modern classics as you explore the city on holiday.
To discover Banksy’s most famous artworks, hop on one of our trains to London.
Graffiti Painter – Cambridge Gardens, W10This tongue-in-cheek depiction of the artist at work shows a foppish-looking painter carefully writing the word Banksy on the side of a wall in Ladbroke Grove. The area was once synonymous with artists, writers and bohemians in the 1960s and 70s, with a vibrant West Indian community. More recently, Ladbroke Grove was the subject of a single by rapper AJ Tracey.
Falling Shopper – Bruton Street, W1Bruton Street in the heart of Mayfair, one of London’s wealthiest districts, is home to one of Banksy’s best-preserved artworks. Falling Shopper shows a woman holding a shopping trolley and plummeting from a great height. It’s one of many Banksy works addressing modern consumerism.
‘Always Fail’ Rat – Farringdon Road, EC1There are several Banksy rats dotted around the UK. This one, holding a sign that once read ‘Always fail’ (the words have since faded) is situated outside the Royal Mail building – previously one of the largest sorting offices in the world. It’s perhaps no coincidence that ‘Always Fail’ rhymes with Royal Mail.
Cash machine – Rosebery Avenue, EC1From out of a cash machine comes a mechanical pincer, reaching out and grabbing a passing girl. This is another subversive Banksy artwork about how modern capitalism has us all held firmly in its grasp.
Helicopter – Old Street, EC2This one is more or less covered up, but the iconic pink bow-wearing attack helicopter is such an exemplar anti-war piece from the famous graffiti artist, it would be remiss leaving it off the list. Good luck spotting it!
Guard Dog – Rivington Street, EC2In the courtyard of the now closed Cargo nightclub is a Banksy artwork showing a uniformed man with his torch and guard dog – a bow-wearing poodle. Nearby is a stencilled sign reading ‘this wall is a designated graffiti area’.
‘I Love Robbo’ Rat – Chiswell Street, EC1Originally, this stencilled rat held up a sign reading ‘London doesn’t work’. The text was replaced by the words ‘I [heart] London Robbo’. The substitute text is in reference to an ongoing feud Banksy had with London graffiti artist King Robbo, who died in 2014.
‘You Lose’ Rat – Steelyard Passage, EC4Near Blackfriars station is this cheeky rodent with its somewhat downbeat sign. It’s quite faded now, but there’s fun to be had in spotting it.
‘My Tap’s Been Phoned’ – Chrisp Street, E14Seemingly a reference to the News International phone hacking scandal, this Banksy original shows a crudely drawn stick figure next to a water tap that has the words ‘Bring! Bring!’ above it. The stick figure saying the words ‘Oh no… my tap’s been phoned’.
Rat – Tooley Street, SE1Another one of Banksy’s army of rats dotted around London, this one’s tucked away in an underpass beneath London Bridge. Can you spot it?
Fishing Child – Bermondsey Wall, SE16A child has been fishing and pulls up his catch. But instead of a fish, he is reeling in a syringe. Beware, this one’s also quite faded.
Very Little Helps – Essex Road, N1This Islington mural shows three children pledging allegiance to the flag. The only thing is, the flag being hoisted is in fact a supermarket carrier bag. Painted in 2008, the picture is another dig at western consumer culture and is a comment on the ubiquity of supermarkets on our high streets.
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