So, today our main class trip was to Regents Park and Primrose Hill, where we took pictures of flowers and flew kites, respectively. However, this will not be the main focus of this post. I want only to mention that while Aubrey‘s mascot Raoul (excuse me, RAA!!OOOL!!) is an awesome guide and group leader, he needs to stop trying to eat the other mascots! Though it’s true that Toad does look kind of tasty. He ended up running away to the flower bushes to escape!
Anyway on a more serious note, after this we went for a walk down Abbey Road, which is mostly a fairly bland and ordinary neighborhood in south Camden and northern Westminster, except for two things – the Abbey Road Studios and the Beatles album named for it. Outside the studio, the walls are totally covered with graffiti, largely of Beatles lyrics and references (with a smattering of other bands, chiefly Pink Floyd, who also recorded many albums there).
Now here’s where it gets tricky: the studio is located in the City of Westminster, and they do paint over the graffiti fairly regularly (every few months). However, they don’t really do much otherwise to stop people from writing on the wall, and indeed its being covered with said graffiti is a vital part of its character as an attraction.
Which brings me to my independent activity of the day. Banksy is a famous (and famously pseudonymous) London street artist. You may have seen him, hooded and animal-masked, in his Academy Award-nominated film Exit Through the Gift Shop. He specializes in stencils with pithy statements. My good friend April Saler, an artist herself, is a fan of his, and asked me to look for one of his murals; as it happened I had passed by one of his most recent on the way in to London and it was just a short diversion from the way back to my flat, so I went today to take some pictures:
Now this is where it gets tricky, since it seems that this work was a direct response to both the arrest of other street artists and the painting over of some of his previous politically tinged works – particularly the one protesting the omnipresent CCTV in the UK, a fact which I too find disturbing. They even have cameras in some of the Tube station loos, which is especially creepy. And on top of this, their attitudes towards graffiti, at least in the Westminster City Council, appear to be really inconsistent and unfortunate. But it appears that Camden is slightly better about it, or possibly the building owner realized the value of the piece, because it was covered with a sheet of clear plastic to protect it from being painted over. That, I appreciated.