Thom Kofoed: Banksy and me

This week cannot go by without mentioning the Banksy that has appeared in St Leonards.

Such hoo-ha is surrounding the supposed 'birthday gift for Ben Eine' (who coincidentally has spent his time recently creating a Prince Charles mural just up the road - am I the only one who thinks this reeks of a publicity stunt?) that I felt it imperative to give my side of things.

What can I say? I know what the public want from me.

While I am not overly enamoured by Banksy -the work, the persona, the intrigue - I have enjoyed the debate.

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It's like our own personal Jennifer Aniston/Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie divorce scandal - everybody has an opinion, everybody has a side.

I myself was Team Aniston for no other reason than the fact that Angelina is clearly an unhinged, husband stealing sociopath with a penchant for interesting bedroom antics and cutting. Jennifer Aniston however is this generations Doris Day, albeit with a Greek face and a poor taste in boyfriends. Everyone knows John Mayer is never going to commit JenAn, stop going back.

What I'm saying, or at least trying to say, is that people are talking about ART - everywhere I go people have an opinion. How brilliant is that?! I love it when people talk about art - after all art should create debate - and if Banksy has got people who normally would have no interest in the subject talking then I tip my hat to him. I mean yes, I do so somewhat bitterly but a tip of the hat is worth two in the bank or whatever it is they say.

However, after being there for all of one week, Banksy's work has already been defaced. Some plebs with a spray can have sprawled all over it with unwitty reminders why graffiti art gets such a bad rap.

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I'm certainly no advocate by any means but what Team Robbo has done is foolhardy and unoriginal - I mean their graffiti doesn't even rhyme, massive letdown.

Anyway so it's there, go see it, tut, smile, have your photo taken, whatever.

It got me thinking though, this town is tres up and coming (my brother James just told me we're getting a Shakeaway milkshake shop - Hello Hastings is the new Brighton, come on in, take your shoes off, sit in my favourite chair, I'll brush your hair, stay a while) and we have all these beautiful gallery spaces in the Old Town, but proprietors - LISTEN UP - enough of the pictures of beach huts and seascapes.

Yes, they're lovely, I'm very impressed by your brush technique, 'Seagulls circling Rock-a-nore' would look delightful hanging above my toilet and I'm sure that many people would comment on how sunny it looked but please, please let's stop.

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I'm sure tourists from the deprived areas of London come down, fall in love with them and go halvsies with their neighbours on a canvas but they're only here for a long weekend and tourist season lasts what, 3 months tops.

What about the rest of us? We know what 'Hastings in a storm' looks like; we don't need a reminder hanging in our hallways.

And I know I'm being tough on you but its only cos I want you to succeed. There's a place for these works but for a moment let's put the cameras down, let's stop taking pictures of the West Hill at sunset and let's start taking photos of rude words painted on cars.

Let's make spaces for artists who want somewhere to make giant installations of the inside of their uterus or paintings of Jackie Kennedy Onassis wearing a hazmat suit and driving a bumper car through Haiti with tears in her eyes.

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Look, I'm not suggesting we rebrand the Old Town as some hardcore, underground art scene place but I wouldn't turn a little something new outta bed if you know what I'm saying.

Let's think outside of the box, let's open up the opportunity to talk about art and let's not forget that the locals want a little something something too every once in a while.

Look at me - I spoke about art without once mentioning the brilliant, soon-to-be Jerwood Gallery.

...hang on a minute.

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