Legal graffiti?

People walk past street art in Stokes Croft, Bristol. Photograph: Rufus Cox/Getty Images

Bristol street artists work with city on legal graffiti walls

Artists in Banksy’s home city want to cooperate with council to establish network of walls on which they can legally create public art.

There has long been tension between the street artists of Bristol, the home of Bansky, and the authorities. Now a crackdown on litter, waste and graffiti by Bristol’s mayor has prompted some street artists to agree to work openly with the city council to create a network of legal walls where they can create their pieces without fear of prosecution. 

Street artists have so far given the council a list of 56 walls across the city that they believe they ought to be allowed to paint on. A delegation of artists is meeting the council on Monday. One of them, Benoit Bennett– aka object…, said he hoped that a network of legal walls would mean an end to the cat-and-mouse game artists often play with the police, and increase the quality of the work.

He said: “Street art is one of the things that drew me to Bristol. Spotting new work is one of my favourite experiences moving through the city, and my very favourite thing to do here is make public artwork on the streets.”

Bennett was a strong critic of Labour mayor Marvin Rees’s hardline Clean Streets campaign, which he said could make Bristol as clean as cities such as Zurich, Tokyo and Singapore. He approached the council, which has said it wants to work with the street artists. “It will create a stronger sense of joint ownership and responsibility, whilst encouraging the continued development and vivacity of the graffiti and street-art scene,” he said. “You will be able to spend more time on your work. People can actually make pieces that are worth keeping.” . . .

. . . Mayor Rees said street art was a hugely important part of the city. “We’ve got to protect that. But we know that some of the stuff is not art – it’s vandalism.” He said there would be an ongoing conversation with the artists about how they could have the room to express themselves – while helping to clamp down on what he sees as vandalism.

What does he think Banksy would make of legal walls? “I don’t know. I don’t know him,” he said.

Read the full article by Hannah Vickers and Steven Morris in the


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