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Banksy Hosts The Cans Festival

by Leonora Oppenheim
on 06 May 2008

This bank holiday weekend in London saw one of the world's most famous street artists (and least likely corporate collaborators) host his own spray party thanks to help from Eurostar.

Recent years have seen the worlds of mega-business and street art colliding with unprecedented frequency. Such collaborations more often than not have predictably disastrous results (Kellog's streetwear anyone?) but sometimes they yield happy consequences. A prime example of how to do it right was the 2006 11 Spring Street project in New York, which saw several stories of prime real estate in Soho covered in graffiti by street artists from all over the world. Opened up to the public for one weekend before the developers moved in, the project was a bang-up success drawing crowds numbering in the thousands.


Banksy took on the idea by inviting artists to join him in London for The Cans Festival stencil party, this time not in a building but in a tunnel once used by taxis before the Eurostar terminal moved to St. Pancreas. With permission, the tunnel was closed down to make way for an onslaught of color and sculptural installations. The tunnel's location was kept secret while the artists set to work making their mark in the center of London. On Saturday the address was announced and crowds, who were invited to bring their own stencils, flocked to Waterloo to join in the fun.

Queues stretched round the block as Londoners waited to have their chance to collaborate with the now almost mythological Banksy and the other artists who flew into town for the festival. The group included Faile from Brooklyn, Bandit from the Netherlands, Run Don't Walk from Argentina and James Dodd from Australia. Although the main event is now over and the installations are being taken down today, it's been said that Eurostar have agreed to leave the stencil work up inside with tunnel for at least six months, so there's still a chance to catch a fleeting glimpse of what soon will be history.

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