I Would Be Your Slave • London 2016 Artist - Pegasus. Installed January 2016

During the summer of 2012, notorious British street artist Banksy placed a large-scale street art piece above a bookshop in Maudlin Street, Bristol. His trademark anarchic commentary on society was depicted through an alternative tribute to Queen Elizabeth II; celebrating her Diamond Jubilee year - by subverting another modern British icon, Ziggy Stardust; one of the more esoteric manifestations of singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, painter and actor David Bowie.

During that same year, Banksy would visit Turnpike Lane, London N15; more specifically Whymark Avenue, and create another Jubilee protest piece - Slave Labour. This small scale artwork would, one year later, spark a UK-wide outcry - having been carved from the wall which housed it, for sale to an American collector for the reported sum of $1.1 million. Among many commentators at the time, the Turnpike Art Group were interviewed by TV news channels for a view on the 'scandal' surrounding Slave Labour. During the intervening years the space slipped to urban decay, and lost its soul.

One might argue both Banksy and Bowie wore a cloaked veil of masked identity; the facade of an artist speaking through carefully crafted marionettes - agents for beliefs - a manteau through which to counter the world we live in. Just as Ziggy was a messenger for extraterrestrial beings, have the legions of rats and monkeys not done the same for Banksy's wish to expose the raw nerves of our society? Such artist's talent for camouflage can sometimes deliver Zeitgeist-defining sounds and visions.

On 10 January 2016, David Robert Jones passed away. His legacy a back catalogue of sublime musicianship, which would define multi-eras, and leave an art world bereft of one of its high priests. As an arbiter of rebellion, and arguably the UK's greatest ever Pop Artist, tributes to his legacy have been manyfold. For TAG, it seemed entirely appropriate to revisit a Bowie track - I would Be Your Slave - and ask a prolific, skilled practitioner of rebellious art - Pop artist Pegasus - to fashion a genie for our walls. We worked together - laying a new artwork over the site where Slave Labour once broadcast its original message - with a tribute to the leper messiah, who all too briefly played guitar.

RIP David Bowie (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016).
I Would Be Your Slave

I bet you laugh out loud at me
A chance to strike me down
Give me peace of mind at last
Show me all you are
Open up your heart to me
And I would be your slave

Further reading:

By Susan Hansen - Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Chair of the Forensic Psychology Research Group at Middlesex University

All artwork, text and images © Turnpike Art Group 2022.