‘In the space of a few hours with a couple of hundred cans of paint, I’m hoping we can transform a dark, forgotten filth pit into an oasis of beautiful art – in a dark, forgotten filth pit.’
On a sad, dirty little forgotten street near Waterloo Station Banksy has taken over, flying in graffiti artists from other countries for a stenciling extravaganza on Leake Street, which also entailed coercing the homeless men who normally live there to move temporarily. A Daily Mail reporter has jokingly noted that Eurostar wants the street back in the exact condition the artist found it in originally– so they’ll have to find those men and “also have to painstakingly urinate on the walls and bring back all the used needles.”
Which says a lot about how property developers estate moguls and ad men see our public spaces. And it’s a savvy move by Banksy to lease the street temporarily. Freedoms granted are not easily taken away.
It’s an all-stencil event, and anyone can contribute. When the street originally opened to the public, the queues to see it were an hour long. But on the day we went it was like a florid secret hinting at the possible, and if the rest of us have our way in shaping our world, the probable.