"Together, we are building a creativity economy in a region whose young people are an asset, not a liability." I'm standing in the old Iraqi embassy...
Artist John Costi was born London 1987, of dual Irish and Cypriot heritage. Working mostly in film, spoken word and performance installation his main concerns are identity and the self plus social and criminal justice.
The street artist lives on both sides of the fence and his grass is always green. An anti-capitalist whose biographies are littered with pound signs. A critic of the auction houses but has retrospective on at Sotheby's S |2 gallery.
Banksy is one of the few people who have been able to popularly harmonise the terms 'graffiti' and 'artist' and his work is treasured around the world from the West Bank to Bristol. Yet Banksy's fame brings a headache to would-be art dealers and community leaders the world over: just who owns a Banksy?
This week's 'On the Street' is dedicated on more figurative works, that tackle the poetic, metaphorical and quite literal meaning of rising and falling in different nuance.
This week the UK based company Sincura Group runs is launching 'Stealing Banksy - an exhibition and sale of what is rumoured to be the 'most expensive' collection of outdoor Banksy pieces ever assembled.
It is true that street art uses the city walls as its main canvas, but it also a fact that the movement has took the gallery challenge and it now resides within the white cube quite comfortably - a sign of its resilient and dichotomous nature...
I thought that we lived in an era that looked back on the horrors of Rwanda and Yugoslavia and said 'never again' and meant it. Sadly I think the crisis in Syria proves all of us wrong and we are all collectively guilty for allowing the country to collapse as it has. Three years on and we see both a biblical level exodus combined with a levels of violence that few of us could have imagined in our wildest dreams. Over nine million people, nearly half of the country, forced from their homes and on the move exposed to a new life of uncertainty, poverty and too often despair.
Standing in the dank, fume-ridden disused road tunnel in an untrendy, forgotten corner of south London, little did I realise I was witnessing the start of a new art phenomenon. It was 2008 and the Cans Festival was taking shape.
Street art is controversial, challenging and dichotomous, but is also a way of life; a sort of unique persona; 'religion.' It is organically intertwined with the urban environment and its aesthetics, though unconventional, is truly original.
Trends from the current year include less illegally painted walls (with most notable and memorable example - Banksy's NYC 'artist residency') and more Street Art Festivals and mural projects worldwide.
A time where the Houses of Parliament are hosting an auction for the proceeds of a Banksy wall piece to be donated to charity, where the NYC Department of Transportation has made street art a priority, judges are pardoning artists due to their obvious talents and we bear witness to the ultimate irony - Walmart selling prints of Banksy's 'Destroy Capitalism' to the mass market.
The focus of this week's 'On the Streets' is on pieces of art in the public domain that are strong, thought-provoking but playful and are a constant reminder of the human desire to explore unknown horizons.
Not too long ago, I came across a street artist called Bambi. Bambi, as an artist, fulfils the contradiction of being accessible yet profound, as does she many others. She's anonymous, yet world-known, having sparked the interest of celebrity fans such as Adele, Brad Pitt and Harry Styles.
With London Art Week over, it is time for our overdue summary of the street murals from around the world...
Banksy's recent activity in New York has generated mountains of coverage, in print and online. But what does the greater coverage of urban artists mean for the street art market? Certainly the internet has made street art more accessible, more widely viewed and more popular - would Banksy be as popular without the internet?