Wednesday Picture: Tracking Bambi Street Artist
Despite our urban surrounds, Kentishtowner is never short of a good animal in the starring role. And previously, on the Wednesday Picture alone, we’ve pursued elephants, mourned a goose, followed a herd of cows and encountered two generations of giant black cats. But today? We’re out hunting for Bambi.
Of course, this little deer has more in common with the recent Top 5 Banksy Locations than any of our more feathered, hooved or tusked friends. For Bambi is the nom de spraycan of an artist now being endlessly referred to as “the female Banksy.”
by Kentishtowner on May 8, 2013 in Art, Wednesday Picture
The comparison is a fairly reasonable, if perhaps lazy one, as convenient to her slick PR machine as it’s controversial to the street art aficionados/bores leaving apoplectic comments online. But, however you wish to frame it, this anonymous girl artist is certainly picking up a similar amount of column inches – plus the accompanying rise in the sale prices of her work – at the moment. And, possibly even more so than Lord Banksy has done, she’s marking her territory in and around this part of London.
Perhaps her most famous piece is located opposite Camden Town Sainsbury’s – a portrait of much missed local ledge Amy Winehouse. As with any Banksy worth its chops, the piece has been variously defaced, restored, painted over, replaced and covered in Perspex. When we paid it a visit yesterday the protective plastic shield had been smashed off, some recent tags carefully airbrushed out in perfectly matched door paint, and a Swarovski-like jewel lovingly placed to represent Amy’s pierced lip.
Next: Loads more Bambi street art in the area
Bambi herself has been known to partake in this constant cycle of street art mutation – you can spot one of her 12 Rude Pope stencils at the bottom of the pic we snapped recently in Clipstone St, defacing a Perspex’ed up Banksy original, no less. Another of the papal series appeared on the wall of the Greek Church in Kentish Town, an endeavour for which the artist may have spent a night in the cells, if you believe the mystery-shrouded blurb put out by Walton Fine Arts, the Knightsbridge gallery that are also her exclusive agents.
Yet she made more local friends than enemies with her cleverly chosen tribute to the retiring June Beachey, manager of Regent’s Park Road landmark Welsh’s hardware for 52 years, Make Tea Not War, to be found on walls in both Primrose Hill and Belsize Park.
Hitting the posher parts of town makes strong business sense too. Her celeb-focussed portraits are proving a big hit with… celebs. Versions of her royal wedding celebration of Wills and Kate, one of the Queen, plus a Camden Town Amy were reported to have been picked up by Brad Pitt for £60k. Robbie Williams snaffled one for his baby daughter at £30k, with Mark Owen, Adele, Rihanna and also David Dimbleby (via his charity art auction) linked with her works in increasingly excitable press reports.
Yet the biggest media fuss to date took place last week, when The Sun hinted at the identity of Bambi, revealing some clues including that she is also a hugely successful and well known singer. The social media consensus was in favour of Paloma Faith, but there were plenty of amusing others suggested including various former Spice Girls (all a red herring for sure). Bambi’s rise comes in very much a post-Banksy era. Everything from the much touted comparisons to the edgy air of mystery is being carefully managed – working the savvy street art potential for all it can give.
Not that there’s anything inherently wrong or inauthentic in this: it’s what a relatively new a kind of antisocial/respectably highbrow/mass market art needs to whisk it from the streets onto the walls of Hollywood mansions. A frenzied charge towards Banksy 2.0, if you will. And Bambi is jostling right at the front of the stampede.
We’ll leave it to you to decide what to make of this latest flurry of guerrilla art cropping up on a wall near you soon. Will this local Bambi find herself caught in the headlights and be unmasked or arrested first? Whatever happens, it’ll only be another rite of passage on her career path.
Words: Tom Kihl