If The Barbican’s Banksy Graffiti Peeved You, Then You’ll Hate The Culture Mile!

Reclaim EC1 has explained in previous posts why the Culture Mile is a bad news. What we haven’t done is focus on how once it’s in operation its going to be hated by those who live in The Barbican. However its obvious that the Cultural Mile is intended to attract an unsustainable number of tourists into the north west corner of the City, and Barbican residents are going to bear the brunt of this, with their lives disrupted by noise alongside the ongoing destruction of their estate. The latter will mostly just be the result of an expanded footfall the Barbican architects never envisaged, although there will no doubt be an increase in the low levels of ‘anti-social behaviour’ residents are already complaining about (in relation to the Banksy graffiti the City used to promote its Jean-Michel Basquiat exhbition at the Barbican art gallery):

Since the arrival of the Banksys there has been some notable examples of graffiti vandalism around Ben Jonson House.   This morning a post to Fix My Street reported this on our door out from staircase 62 to Golden Lane:

Entrance to Ben Jonson House from street level on Golden Lane, corner with Beech Street.

This follows extensive graffiti vandalism which showed up at podium level beneath Ben Jonson and Breton houses (and was later loudly cleaned off):


It seems that the Banksy graffiti is being taken as an open invitation by graffiti vandals.  This is being discussed on Barbican Talk.

Graffiti Vandalism s/c 62 L02 by Anon, Ben Jonson House Blog, 24 December 2017

Moving on to the Barbican Talk page, what’s odd about it is at least one of those commenting would appear to be a vocal supporter of the Culture Mile, and yet they don’t seem to like what this project is already bringing to them. The Banksy graffiti and additional street art from his fellow travellers is just a small taste of what’s to come as far as the Culture Mile goes. Those who don’t like it should note that street art in nearby Whitecross Street has also been used to promote the Culture Mile. This is from Barbican Talk:

Post by PaulBI » 01 Dec 2017, 07:09: Going out this morning we find the glass and concrete outside at podium level (Breton House) covered in graffiti/tags. Unpleasant. I hold the Arts Centre and their involvement in protecting and encouraging visits to the unwelcome addition at street level, ignoring removal policy on graffiti, directly responsible for this disfigurement of my home. I trust that they will rapidly offer to pay for the clean-up… also in stairwell going down to Barbican tube. It’s been reported to the council.

Post by johnbh » 01 Dec 2017, 10:16: The tags on the podium around Breton House and the middle of Ben Johnson are unsightly and will not be easily shifted off the textured concrete. 😦 However, it is essential that this is cleaned up swiftly.

Post by Cripplegate Alderman » 01 Dec 2017, 11:03: I agree about both the unsightliness and the need to act quickly to remove the ‘tags’. I took some satisfaction from removing nearly all of a “rare” white tag on glass using a fallen leaf as a rag. The red tags on the concrete will be less easy to shift, I agree. Another argument for CCTV albeit this is more anti-social behaviour than crime as such.

Post by PaulBI » 01 Dec 2017, 11:27: I have just come back from the Arts Centre having registered a formal complaint about their involvement in insisting that the original graffiti be kept.”It is art”… My earlier phone call was hung up on after telling me it was the City’s responsibility and nothing to do with the Arts Centre. (Also reported to Estate Office, etc for cleaning – that we end up paying for one way or another)

This protected graffiti is encouraging groups to hang around, particularly late at night – presumably where the tagging etc comes from. One of the tags is the same as one that has appeared on the Beech St corner which the Arts Centre are happy to take responsibility for removing. But not apparently the ones on the entrance to my home.

We have school holidays coming up and this thing is supposedly to stay up until end of January “When a decision will be made”. Does no-one feel any responsibility for this? Surely the reason for the quick removal of graffiti policy is precisely because the outcome if this is not done is further graffiti… That policy had reason. Effect 100% predictable.

We weren’t consulted on the original decision to keep the blessed thing. Protection in the form of night security disappeared after a few days. I am still unclear who amongst city staff made the decision to breach clearly stated graffiti policy in the first place. I am extremely unhappy that ‘the City’ then endorsed this but are apparently taking no responsibility for the growth in graffiti around us… “…more anti-social behaviour than crime as such.” It is crime AND anti-social. And costly.

I’ve lived in the neighbourhood 30 years and in this flat nearly 15. We’ve had the odd one or two tags (particularly when scaffolding was up for roof work some time ago) quickly removed from paintwork. A piece of ‘Art’ appears and suddenly we are covered in the stuff. This is NOT coincidence.

Post by allypally » 01 Dec 2017, 17:19: This has become an absolute eyesore. Some of the work covered by the perspex isn’t even by Banksy (the dog and the jumping man). It’s now attracting graffiti all over the northern part of the estate and the perspex has been vandalised and further graffitied. It’s a total mess. I’m really angry that this has been tolerated simply because it’s from a well-known artist. It’s still graffiti and should be treated as such. This is our home not a hipster Instagram opportunity. I’ve just complained to the CoL using their online form.

Post by Halifax » 11 Dec 2017, 13:53: It would be interesting to know what response PaulBI and allypally got to their complaints. After my own protest, Sir N(icholas) K(enyon)’s assistant wrote “….please accept our apologies as we are very sorry if there has been unwanted disturbance [sic] to the buildings…”. This seems to be an admission that the damage is directly attributable to their exhibition and the protection afforded the Banksy. Residents should not have to foot the bill for cleaning it up.

Incidentally, the same tag which appeared on our building has still not been removed from beside the Banksy, nor various other bits of rubbish, after 10 days or so. Has the City given up on it?

Post by GoldenLane » 11 Dec 2017, 23:51: Maybe some guerrilla removal is called for. Does anyone have a pressure washer? The perspex can easily to be unscrewed.

Post by Friday » 24 Dec 2017, 08:00

Discovered this on one of the Ben Jonson House entrances (opposite the Banksy picture) this morning… I’ve reported it to the council.


Post by johnbarbican » 24 Dec 2017, 09:59 The tag ‘MRS’ was all over the north podium a couple of weeks ago. Also see there is a new one in Fortune Street.

Post by Fabius » 24 Dec 2017, 13:41: I’m so tired of all the graffiti since the Banksy appeared and was preserved. We’re fortunate that even this amount of graffiti is little compared to that experienced in much of London, but that doesn’t stop it being annoying. But, other than vigilantly reporting it, I feel kind of impotent about what to do. I can’t see the City/Arts Centre getting rid of the Banksy, but that’s what would, I hope, need to happen to stem the amount of graffiti.

Post by Friday » 28 Dec 2017, 09:42 More graffiti has just appeared at podium level in the stairwell down to Barbican tube. I’ve reported it to the council…

Post by lucky8 » 29 Dec 2017, 16:32: I wonder if this is related with the number of ‘youth’ I’ve seen gathering around the John Trundle Court gardens of late, sometimes upwards of 30-40 individuals. I thought of mentioning to the estate office, but thought they’d see it as being a bit of a moan, so I didn’t. But I’m sorry, this group clearly doesn’t live here, and I feel sightly threatened.

Graffiti discussion on Barbican Talk.

Esa-Pekka Salonen doing what passes in classical music circles as an imitation of the Sid Vicious Paris ‘concert’ in The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980).

Of course, the City are selling the Culture Mile to Barbican residents as a middle-brow classical music corporate junket opportunity; but not only will it consist of more than just that moribund tradition, even some of the orchestral inanity looks like it will be found disruptive by those living in that part of Cripplegate. Here’s the Ben Jonson House Blog on a forthcoming classical ‘pop up’ in the Culture Mile:

The City, in the form of the Barbican Arts Centre, have applied to, er, the City, for a license to convert the Beech St Tunnel into an “Immersive Audio Visual Space” in which they plan have lighting systems and a PA system too.

The performance/event will happen on Fri 16th – Sun 18th March 2018, but I think this excludes the time needed to set up and tear down the installation.

You can make representations to the City regarding this license application up to the 24th December. Send your comments to licensing@cityoflondon.gov.uk​​​​​.

Here is how the event is described in the license application:

“The application is for an event in Beech Street road tunnel being produced in partnership by the Barbican Centre, City of London Culture Mile and 59 Productions. We are proposing to transform the tunnel into an immersive audio-visual space, putting audience members inside a piece of classical contemporary music and allowing them to explore the work aurally, visually and spatially.

“In addition to a series of projectors along a section of the tunnel, a PA system will be installed to play a new composition by Esa-Pekka Salonen which the visuals will respond to. The PA system is being designed with multiple speakers so a relatively low sound pressure is needed in each location to create the desired experience for the audience.

“No alcohol sales will take place.”

Beech St. Tunnel – Immersive Audio Visual Space by Anon, Ben Jonson House Blog, 9 December 2017.

To sum up, the Banksy graffiti is just the start as far as the Culture Mile goes, and if Barbican residents don’t like that and what it brings, then they’re going to be a lot more upset about what’s coming later!

Pippa Henslowe.



Graffiti Vandalism s/c 62 L02: http://bjhg-blog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/graffiti-vandalism-sc-62-l02.html

Graffiti discussion on Barbican Talk: https://www.barbicantalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=17169

Beech St. Tunnel – Immersive Audio Visual Space: http://bjhg-blog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/beech-st-tunnel-immersive-audio-visual.html

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