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A Conversation With Bambi

  • 4 min read
Bambi is the tag name of the anonymous London street artist famous for her gritty stencil and aerosol spray paintwork. The moniker was born from her childhood nickname, ‘Bambino,’ when she first began tagging in London. Bambi creates stencilled works which are frequently described as gritty and masculine in appearance even if she is exploring themes of feminism, popular and street culture.
There's no Place Like Home by Bambi
There's No Place Like Home - Grey, 2020 by Bambi
On being called the female Banksy...
Bambi: Well I hate it in the way that all women dislike being compared to a successful male counterpart as opposed to their own person. On the other hand, Banksy is one of the most important artists of the 21st century, so it’s fair to say I’m flattered. It’s a double-edged sword.

What was your first piece of street art?

Bambi: Between dad complaining about the smell and mum screaming about the mess, I needed to practice elsewhere, so I ventured outside onto the street. I then sprayed a trail of stars using a stencil cut out of dad’s Reader’s Digest magazine on the bonnet of a shiny Rolls-Royce parked just outside my parents’ block of flats. It looked lovely once I’d finished – then I realised what I’d done and legged it home.

 

What work are you proudest of?

Bambi: I’m particularly proud of a piece I sprayed on a wall in Shoreditch called “Don’t Shoot”, based on the Ferguson unrest in Missouri during August 2014. The widespread protests and riots were sparked by a police officer shooting an unarmed man, Michael Brown. The text around the images reads as follows: “You abuse your powers again and again Another innocent unarmed soul is murdered in your name Filthy blue lies flow and flow You shot him six times for just jaywalking home Left in a pool of blood on the street But you think it’s just another day on the beat Come on justice must be done or anarchy will bite you on the bum.” -- Bambi Due to the work’s anti-police tones, the wall was actually cordoned-off like a crime scene and checked for fingerprints, luckily, I wear gloves so they couldn’t find any. The best thing is the piece is still up!

 

There's no Place Like Home - Yellow, 2020 by Bambi
There's No Place Like Home - Yellow, 2020 by Bambi

 

Why the name Bambi?

Bambi: My parents’ childhood nickname for me was Bambi, short for Bambino.

 

Does anonymity give you more freedom?

Bambi: Being an artist is about creative freedom. Despite being a natural show-off, I need to keep my identity a secret in order to wander the streets of London uninterrupted and to avoid being pursued by the police for vandalism. I’ve been in a prison cell and I can tell you that it’s not very nice. There’s too many locks for my liking and a stainless steel loo with hard toilet paper.

 

Your work is deeply rooted in political and social causes, to what extent do you believe artists have a responsibility to shine a light on the issues of today?

Bambi: I think Street art has a big role to play in the movement of socially conscious art, I’m hoping to continue in this vein in the future to use my art as a call to arms for causes I feel strongly about women's rights, LGBTQ rights, climate action, etc.

This isn’t to say that I won’t still do some of the light-hearted & fun street artwork that has been popular in the past.
What’s your favourite piece of art/film/song?
Bambi: One of my favourite paintings is Rembrandt’s self-portrait, which hangs in Kenwood House in Hampstead. His eyes contain so much knowledge and melancholy that I get the eerie feeling Rembrandt is looking back and weighing up my failures. He was a failure when he painted this self-portrait, having been reduced to poverty by his enthusiastic spending. One of my favourite songs is “Wild is the wind.” I particularly love the following lyrics: Like a leaf clings To the tree Oh, my darling, Cling to me… Whenever I hear the Nina Simone or David Bowie version of this song, I start getting all teary.

Your sense of humour shines through in your work, who or what makes you laugh?

Bambi: One thing we all need in our lives is laughter. I find I can get through a day better if I can find things to make me laugh. I laugh at myself sometimes, if I say something silly or forget something obvious. Life is easier when you don’t take yourself too seriously. Also, my little dog, who thinks she’s a much bigger dog than she actually is, constantly cracks me up.

 

Do you want to make a difference? How can graffiti help?

Bambi: Graffiti and street art is controversial. But it’s also a medium for voices of social change, protest, or expressions of community desire. Look how during the women’s march and the anti-Trump, anti -Brexit marches, people proudly carried their homemade banners. Some of them were mini-masterpieces. People probably stayed up really late the night before to make these artworks, knowing they would be on public display.

 

What give you hope?

Bambi: My mum would say to me, “where there’s life there’s hope”. Everybody hurts. Everybody loves. Everybody hopes. And, everybody dies. Mainly, art is about our own sense of mortality. Check out more of Bambi's work here.

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