U.K.’s Oldest Cathedral Recruits Ant Steel for Its Artist-in-Residence Program

Art Net news -

Steel and other community members will create large-scale works for an exhibition in November.

Ant Steel is not the type to scale walls or stealthily spray-paint street corners under the cover of darkness. Steel asks for permission to paint. Always. He’s not interested in tags or gaudy throwies and tends to paint vibrant, highly realistic works as community projects.

Steel’s more formal approach to graffiti stems from a career in graphic design that involved preparing images for advertisement. If it was a spray job, Steel would go and watch the painters dangle off the side of giant billboards, his feet firmly on the ground. Only more recently has Steel begun creating a different type of public art: a mural of Queen Elizabeth II outside a shopping center, an extensive pro-Ukraine painting on a town wall—and now, a series of works as artist-in-residence at St Albans Cathedral, Britain’s oldest site of continuous Christian worship.

St Albans Cathedral

The wall depicting a peregrine falcon Steel painted for St Albans Film Festival. Photo: courtesy Ant Steel.

“Street art has a loud voice and I want it to shout as loud as possible,” Steel told Artnet News. “At the cathedral, I have a remit of running workshops and events. My goal is to be involved within the community.”

To be clear, Steel won’t be transforming the stone walls of St Albans with color, though, in a curious echo, the cathedral is riddled with thousands of carved graffiti marks dating back hundreds of years. Instead, Steel will be creating large-scale works on boards as well as working with children, asylum seekers, refugees and adults to create an exhibition in November, one he believes will “turn some heads.”

St Albans Cathedral Ant Steel

Steel’s wall for Ukraine in St Albans. Photo: courtesy Ant Steel.

The Cathedral approached Steel after learning about the workshops he led for the St Albans Film Festival as part of its broader push to attract younger and more diverse audiences. The landmark has been running its artist-in-residence program since 2018.

“The Cathedral has long been a patron of arts and is keen to support local artists,” Kevin Walton, the Cathedral’s Canon Chancellor, told Artnet News. “Ant Steel’s fresh and engaging artistic offer and his dedicated approach to community work matched our vision.”

Walton was also drawn to the idea of a contemporary graffiti artist playing off the marks worked into the Cathedral. “We are consciously building on our long heritage in this place,” Walton said.

See more images from the artist in resident program below:

St Albans Cathedral graffiti

Ant Steel at work outside St Albans Cathedral. Photo: courtesy Ant Steel.




Ukraine Marks First Year of War With Banksy Stamp

Hyperallergic reports - On February 24, the first anniversary of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian postal service released a new stamp featuring a Banksy mural and the shorthand “FCK PTN!” in Cyrillic. The mural, which the British street artist painted in the fall of 2022 on a bombed building northwest of Kyiv, portrays a young boy in Judo robes flipping an older man. Many speculate Banksy depicted Vladimir Putin getting body slammed, as the Russian President is reportedly a Judo practitioner. 

In a press statement, the national post shared that the image is “allegorical,” representing the struggle between Ukraine and Russia. “Our small country, compared to Russia, courageously entered into an unequal battle with the enemy and, despite all the difficulties, is fighting for the Victory,” wrote Ukrposhta.

Expecting high enthusiasm for the stamps with Banksy’s mural, Ukrposhta set circulation of the postage at 1,500,000 copies with a limit of 10 sheets per online order. A sheet of stamps costs 180 Ukrainian hryvnia (~$4.90), and the agency says 42 UAH (~$1.14) will go toward ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, such as rebuilding schools.

Banksy ukranian stamp

Risk Recieves Lifetime Achievement Award

‘An Addiction I Could Never Shake’: Street Art Pioneer Risk on How He Brought Graffiti From the Street to the Gallery

RISK-2-1024x683To write his first bit of graffiti, a young Kelly Graval didn’t travel very far. He staked out his high school until it was dark, before jumping the fence with four cans of red and white spray paint. On a wall, he painted “a big piece” that simply read “SURF,” a nod to his hobby.

“It was terrible,” he said of his debut as a graffitist—though by the next day, the work managed to draw the attention and admiration of his classmates, most of whom, back in the early ‘80s in Los Angeles, had yet to encounter any form of graffiti.

From there, Graval’s canvases would only grow larger and farther as his adventures in graffiti took him to train yards and freeways across L.A. His legend would develop alongside his tag, Risk, an apt moniker that captured the rebellion and peril inherent in graffiti writing, and that, yes, he borrowed from the board game.

For Risk, it made sense that he should persist in writing and tagging the city. “You have the art form and you have the strategic form,” he told Artnet News of graffiti. “It’s just an addiction that I could never shake.”

Decades on, his endurance is paying off. Recognized as a pioneer in the West Coast graffiti scene, Risk has seen his work included in exhibitions from “Art in the Streets” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles to “Beyond the Streets” in Los Angeles and New York. His recent forays into fine art and sculpture, too, have fetched prices upwards of $200,000.

Over Art Wynwood weekend which was from February 16 through 19, Risk will be collecting the fair’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award for continuing to “innovate and shape contemporary art through his work.” His sculptures will feature within the fair, which is presented by Art Miami, and his graffiti art will take up an entire mural that flanks the entrance.

Certainly, the honor is “mind-blowing,” he said, but it’s also been gratifying to watch what once was deemed vandalism enter the art conversation.

“My whole life I wanted graffiti art to be a mainstream art form—to just be considered a genre of art. I wanted to see this art form be in galleries and museums, and celebrated around the world,” he said. “And now it is.”

Read the full article here.

Banksy Valentine's Day Mural Revealed in Margate UK

Banksy’s Startling Valentine’s Day Mural Exposes Domestic Violence as a Dark Reality Ignored on the Most Romantic Day of the Year

The anonymous artist's new work appeared overnight in Margate.

As reported in Artnet by Vivienne Chow,

Banksy, Valentine's Day mascara (2023). Credit @banksy.
Banksy, Valentine's Day mascara (2023). Credit @banksy.

Banksy has unveiled a new mural highlighting the fight against domestic violence on the morning of Valentine’s Day, drawing applause from fans around the world who praised the artist for not forgetting the reality of abuse on this supposedly romantic day.

Titled Valentine’s Day mascara, the work appeared overnight on a white brick wall in the British seaside town of Margate, one of the most economically deprived areas of Kent.


It depicts a woman dressed as a 1950s housewife tossing a man into a real abandoned freezer, around which Banksy created the work. The woman in a blue checkered dress, apron and yellow household rubber gloves has a broken tooth and a black eye probably caused by a punch. She appears to be enacting her revenge on her abuser, while only his legs are visible, sticking out from the end of the freezer.

Banksy, <i>Valentine's Day mascara</i> (2023). Credit @banksy.

Banksy, Valentine’s Day mascara (2023). Credit @banksy.

The work went live on the elusive artist’s Instagram page on Tuesday morning, and garnered more than half a million likes within a couple of hours. Many have left comments praising the artist for drawing attention to the issue.


Levels of domestic violence rose during the pandemic lockdowns, and the most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that 5 percent of adults aged 16 years and above—6.9 percent women and 3 percent men—experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022, equating to 2.4 million adults.

“Sheeeessssh but that’s some people’s reality,” one user wrote on Instagram. “Fighting violence used against women. Even on Valentine’s Day. Always!” wrote another user.

Another speculated if there were other hidden messages behind the work. “Anyone else notice the Ukrainian colors? I think that’s the message,” another user pointed out.

One user guessed if Banksy was female. Another shared their horrible accounts of domestic violence and abuse their family experienced. “Anyone who’s experiencing abuse—get help, get out, get free,” the user wrote.

If you or someone you know is being abused, support and help are available.



Space Invader Invades Paris!

Space invader parisParis is waking up to the beauty and fun of street art thanks to Space Invader's long creative project in that city.

WHAT IS A SPACE INVADER ? A Space Invader is a small mosaic pasted by the artist Franck Slama on the street corners of more than 70 cities around the world. Franck Slama is a street artist and mosaicist French, born in 1969. He was trained at the Beaux Art de Paris.

Atlas Obscura reports:

As a tourist in Paris, you will likely find yourself near the Notre Dame cathedral. Consider a short detour about a thousand feet south, and you’ll a small space invader on public display: PA-03, which originally appeared 1998. 

While walking the streets of Paris, you have undoubtedly spotted small tile mosaics on the sides of buildings, typically one story above street level, ranging in size from a square foot to much larger. Many are in the shape of the pixelated characters from the 1978 video game Space Invaders.  

The artist known as “Invader” (Franck Slama), a graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, started erecting this street art in 1998. A bit of a rebel, he gravitated toward street art, though he favored ceramic tile over spray paint, as he liked the permanence of the medium.

Knowing his work was created to last, Invader kept a comprehensive database of all of his art. Each piece has a catalog number. For instance, PA-199 is the 199th piece to be placed in Paris and LDN-147 is the 147th piece to be placed on London—you get the idea. As of July 2019, Invader has placed and cataloged more than 3,700 works of art in 78 cities worldwide. Paris, where it all started, has more than a third of the total.

A few blocks away from PA-03, where Rue Monge hits Rue d’Arras, you will find PA-04, also originally dating back to 1998. PA-01 had a known location, but it has been “deleted,” as has PA-002 (though it has been re-activated by others). As of July 2019, PA-04 was also partially destroyed. It appears as though PA-03 and PA-04 may have been completely destroyed at some point but were later restored, though it’s unclear if the restoration was the work of the original artist.

Know Before You Go

If you enjoy the hunt for Invader art, it is recommended that you install the Flashinvaders app on your smartphone, which allows you to snap a photo of each invader. The app will analyze the image and inform you if the artwork is made by Invader or an imitator. It will also display the catalog number, the date of creation, and the name of the piece. For the fun of it, you score points for each unique acquisition. You can also see a live feed of other snaps being taken around the world. Enjoy the hunt.





A Look Inside the Batcave

Like all great graf places, the batcave in Brooklyn is slated for demolition to build ... wait for it ... luxury apartments. But here it is as is.

Dating back to the 1950s, the Gowanus Batcave is one of the City's oldest graffiti havens. Similar to its Queens counterpart 5 Pointz, the Batcave is being demolished and converted into residences. In this immersive 360° video from the New York Times, peek inside the graffiti-filled Batcave before it is gone for good.


River City Skate Park

River-City-Skatepark-in-WAMany skate parks across the world are filled with wonderful street art. Today I want to give a shout out to River City Skate Park in Seattle Washington.

According to their site, River City SkatePark project has been in the works for 15 years. Initially generated as a business plan by three South Park high school students, this once neglected property has blossomed into an incredibly unique skatepark. There’s nothing else like it in the world!

Designed by our late friend, visionary and founder of Grindline, Mark “Monk” Hubbard, River City is a beautiful concrete structure with four doors in the cardinal directions and one continuous, circular half pipe with lines through the middle. Experienced skaters from around the world visit this park, but many people in the area are unable to enjoy it because of the level of difficulty. We’ve been gathering design ideas from skaters and non-skaters alike to ensure that the new and improved RCSP draws people from many crowds and accommodates a variety of uses. Please help us honor Monk’s vision – to finish building River City SkatePark and help build a healthy community space for people to gather and express themselves.

Sicanje, an Ancient Balkan Tattoo Tradition, Draws a New Generation

Bosian tattoosThis from Atlas Obscura -

For millennia, women adorned their daughters, and sometimes sons, with symbols of belonging and protection. Then the practice vanished—until now.

For millennia, women in what is now Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina performed sicanje—the word means, literally, “to prick”—on their daughters. Using needles and a mixture of soot, spit, honey, and breast milk, the tattooing tradition covered the hands, chest, and sometimes forehead with deeply symbolic patterns.

In the 1920s, anthropologist Edith Durham wrote that sicanje had passed from one generation of women to the next for nearly 4,000 years. In the mid-20th century however, it vanished. Now, a new generation of Balkan women—and men—is reviving the tradition as part of a larger trend to reclaim and celebrate their heritage.

“Unfortunately we don’t have any primary sources [about the tradition’s origins]. We only have the Greeks talking about them as their opponents,” says Marija Maracic, coauthor of The Sicanje Project, an oral and visual history of the tradition. In written histories and on vases and other artwork, ancient Greeks depicted Balkan people with tattoos, and archaeologists working in the region have discovered bronze tattooing needles in 3,000-year-old graves. Some of the ancient designs appear universal, such as the kolo circle, representing family and unity; it shares a name with a traditional dance still performed at weddings and family reunions. Other tattoos, such as a particular combination of motifs, appear to signify a specific village or tribe.

In fact, sicanje symbolized identity but also protection, blessing, and beauty for centuries. As the Balkans became Christianized in the ninth century, the pagan tradition of sicanje evolved to incorporate Catholicism. For example, the kriz, a pagan symbol of the four cardinal directions, became a stylized Christian cross. And while women had traditionally marked their adolescent daughters on the vernal equinox as a rite of passage, they began doing it on the feast day of St. Joseph, which falls close to the arrival of spring.

In the 15th century, sicanje transformed again, this time into an act of resistance. Under Ottoman rule, Christian Balkan families were levied devshirme, sometimes called the blood tax. Boys as young as eight were taken to Istanbul in a system designed to surround the emperor with loyal foreign servants, limiting the power of the Turkish elite. Devshirme were often well educated, and served as high-ranking soldiers and bureaucrats, but they were still far from home.

During this period, Catholic Balkan mothers began tattooing boys as well as girls, marking them prominently with symbols of protection and belonging. And if devshirme ever returned to their village as an adult, their sicanje would identify them, no matter how many years had passed.

As the Ottoman empire waned, sicanje continued on as a mark of beauty and religious and tribal belonging. The tattoos remained most common on women, but some men also carried the marks. In the mid-20th century, however, under the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the tradition of sicanje began to fade. Maracic says modernization, urbanization, and other trends changed attitudes about old customs. Women started to hide their marks, and their daughters declined to receive them. By the 1960s, sicanje lived on only in fading marks on grandmothers’ hands.

In the 21st century, a new generation of historians and artists are rediscovering the tradition. Maracic sees the growing global acceptance and interest in tattoos as a major factor in sicanje’s revival. Popularizing the nearly-lost art is also a way for people to celebrate their heritage and identity in a post-Yugoslavia world.


The Pothole Picasso

Jim bachorThe Washington Post reports on Jim Bachor's effort at filling in potholes with mosaics.

Jim Bachor travels across the country filling potholes for a living. He doesn’t just fill the unsightly road gaps with cement, he actually turns them into art — and often, social commentary. Bachor uses hundreds of pieces of Italian glass and marble that he cuts to create the sometimes subversive mosaics, which he installs on the ground to beautify unsightly city streets. He doesn’t work with cities on the installations, he works rogue, and he places the mosaics himself.

Bachor began his pothole art in Chicago, where he lives, by installing the word “pothole” in black and white marble in a road divot in 2013.“People loved it and thought it was funny,” he said. “Was it legal? I still don’t know. I decided to turn my hobby into a bit of a Robin Hood thing. If I had to ask for permission, I wouldn’t be doing this.” He was recently in D.C. making pothole mosaics of wolves for a conservation group.

Bachor’s work in Chicago includes filling street craters with mosaics of a TV remote control, cats, a Twitter blue check mark and the words “I couldn’t do this if I were Black” — as well as other images to make people stop and look, including the word “LIAR.” He’s worked in many cities, including New York, where he’s made mosaics of dead rats, pigeons and cockroaches. He was called “Pothole Picasso” by the New York Post.

In D.C., Bachor was hired by the #RelistWolves Campaign, a privately-funded group that is working to get Northern Rocky Mountain wolves reclassified as an endangered species in an effort to get them the same protection as other gray wolves.

Now he spends about 10 hours on each piece and said he has created 108 artworks, including commissioned installations for streets in Nashville, Philadelphia, New York City and Los Angeles.