Publisher: Earth Island Publishing Ltd
Review by Demitri Levantis
Banksy: like him or loathe him, the Bristolian street artist has caused a stir both in the art world and in most other parts of British society. It is, therefore, no surprise that he’s become the topic of 21st-century literature – particularly a black comedy detailing the highs and lows of finding his work on the side of a private house. Roy D Hacksaw has done just that with his latest book which, as the title suggests, offers a fair share of frustration given Banksy’s off-the-wall nature.
Glyn and Kevin are two local lads who live in Glyn’s barn conversion in the Welsh valleys, outside of the town of Abertillery. They spend their days tending to their sheep, watching countless action and martial arts films, and running their own marijuana farm to make ends meet. It all seems quite an easy life until one night when Banksy turns up to leave his mark on the side of the barn.
Following an altercation with the artist, Glyn and Kevin must then deal with the horrors brought about by the publicity of the artist’s latest venture: an unfinished stencil of Margaret Thatcher defecating into a Welsh coal mine.
Before the piece can go viral on Instagram, the two boys have their fair share of problems afoot including folk such as a pompous American art dealer, Kevin’s love interest wanting to exploit the piece for her coach company, the local pub landlord who can’t keep his trap shut for five minutes, the local PC who turns a blind eye to their little scheme, and Barry Scarf Ace – Abertillery’s answer to Tony Montana.
Glyn and Kevin must get to work as fast as possible to hide their produce, leading to their sheep experiencing their own summer of love and a lengthy fight with the local council wanting to slap a preservation order on the house. Not to mention hordes of Banksy fans and followers of the artist’s biggest rival, King Robbo wanting in on the ensuing kerfuffle.
Eventually, the whole debacle comes to a fair and funny ending which I’m not going to spoil as it’s worth reading to the end for.
Overall, Roy D Hacksaw has made it clear just how much pain and suffering can come from being the target of a man so lauded and reviled by the general public. But it also stands as an easy-talking satire on the state of the art world at present. Speaking as someone who sees Banksy as nothing more than a pompous fool, I was happy to see him getting his fair share of criticism as well as fun in all the scenes he is featured. I was also laughing out loud on several occasions from how Hacksaw uses the local dialect and wit to help the protagonists get out of a fair share of sticky situations.
For anyone who has heard of the King Robbo feud or just fancies a good hunk of Welsh humour, I’d recommend this book in an instant. Bugger Banksy is a lightly transgressive caper that reflects on how the actions of a celebrity artist can cause a fair deal of trouble for the common people. Plus, it raises a question on just how much we adore the works of a man whose street art went viral, yet we still look down our noses at younger artists whose attempts at making an artistic statement is deemed vandalism.