Span­ish town launches in­ter­na­tional cam­paign to lure Banksy to graf­fiti over rep­u­ta­tion as Franco birth­place

Costa del Sol News - - FRONT PAGE -

IF THE street artist Banksy were to visit the Span­ish city of Fer­rol, a log­i­cal site for his po­lit­i­cally charged graf­fiti might be the house where for­mer dic­ta­tor Fran­cisco Franco was born.

“I think that would be a fan­tas­tic idea. Peo­ple come here only to see the house where Franco was born and it is an al­ba­tross around our neck. I would much pre­fer them to come and see the Banksy,” said Ed­uardo Her­mida, a painter who or­gan­ises an an­nual fes­ti­val in Fer­rol in which artists are in­vited to cre­ate their work on the streets of Canido, a run­down area of the city in the north­west­ern re­gion of Gali­cia.

Fer­rol is hop­ing to win Spain's first cat­a­logued work by Banksy at the Men­i­nas de Canido fes­ti­val - so-named be­cause artists are en­cour­aged to cover the walls with their takes on Diego Velázquez's mas­ter­piece Las Men­i­nas.

But how to con­tact an artist who never shows their face, let alone shar­ing a con­tact ad­dress?

To make sure the Bris­to­lian artist sees the in­vi­ta­tion, the fes­ti­val, spon­sored by the Gali­cian beer brand 1906, has launched a mas­sive me­dia cam­paign with the help of spon­sor­ship, tak­ing out ad­ver­tise­ments in lead­ing in­ter­na­tional news­pa­pers, in­clud­ing the Daily Tele­graph, as well as bill­boards in Bris­tol and Lon­don.

The ad­verts are head­lined “Dear Banksy,” and in­vite the artist to claim his re­served space on a wall ahead of this year’s event on Septem­ber 2.

“Banksy is a star. Our project is a re­ally lo­cal, neigh­bour­hood thing, so we don’t know how to con­nect him with all of our en­ergy,” said Mr Her­mida. “It’s frus­trat­ing. We have 250 Men­i­nas on the walls by artists from as far afield as Thai­land, but no Banksy.”

Among the in­ter­na­tional artists to have in­ter­preted Velázquez’s paint­ing are Ting-Tong Chang, a Saatchi Gallery ex­hibitor, and Spain-based Syr­ian artist Ali.

Mr Her­mida ex­plained that he launched the fes­ti­val, which also fea­tures the work of pho­tog­ra­phers, dancers, mu­si­cians and po­ets, in 2008 as a re­sponse to the grad­ual de­cline of an area in a city which used to rely on ship­build­ing. “Fer­rol’s pop­u­la­tion is now 67,000, but it was built for dou­ble that.” Mr Her­mida said that Canido had made a real come­back thanks to the spirit of the fes­ti­val, with restau­rants, bars and bou­tiques again jostling for space on the streets.

“We are al­most out of walls to paint,” he joked. “Banksy must have heard our plea. Now he knows we ex­ist, at least. If he doesn’t come, well that’s his loss. At least, we will have en­joyed the feel­ing of hope, and there’s al­ways another year.”

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