In search of the Grim Reaper

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark (I haven’t aged at all since I first wrote this introduction) and I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC found ourselves in Bristol and went in search of the Grim Reaper by Banksy. This is the tale of our quest from the Thekla to Spike Island in search of the artwork.

My impressions? A vibrant, thoughtful area of Bristol.

Word of the day

Graffito is the word of the day. It’s the little-known singular form of graffiti, and comes from the Italian word graffiato, meaning scratched. In the most common usage, graffiti are words, signs, drawings, or paintings that someone has put on a wall without permission. In art history, graffiti are works of art produced by scratching the surface. Another meaning of graffito is a deliberate mark or sign, such as a mason’s mark.

Travel tip

A good quest is a fine excuse to explore your surrounds.

The book I’m in

The Visitor, by Lee Child. I’m still munching my way through the same book as in my previous two posts. A good Lee Child is a good place to be.

The photos

Me at the Thekla. I’d heard Banksy’s Grim Reaper was on the Thekla, so that’s where I started my quest:

At the start of the quest I didn’t know what a “Thekla” was. Then I found the boat. Next, look for the painting. I examined the river walls, the sides of the boat, the nearby buildings. No Grim Reaper.

However, I did come across this striking picture on a window near Welsh Back:

Here’s a closer look. This worm thinks it’s an impressive work of art:

Still, not a Banksy. A quick internet search yielded the vital clue. Banksy’s Grim Reaper had indeed originally been painted on the Thekla in 2003, but it was moved to the M Shed, a nearby museum, in 2015. The water and weather had damaged the work of art, and the owners were afraid it would disappear entirely. They cut out the piece of the boat that contained the Grim Reaper, and presented it to the M Shed as a long-term loan.

So, off to the M Shed we go. First, a pretty view across the River Avon:

The TC found this no-nonsense sign post amusing, particularly as the bridge does indeed present itself as a “weak bridge”:

Wend your way past the evidence of a good night out:

And there’s the M Shed:

Inside, the Grim Reaper at last:

This worm does find it a little ironic that a stencilled graffito, surely expected to be temporary, should be behind glass and locked doors. On the other hand, I’m very glad that I managed to see this work, and that other people will be able to find it too.

That’s all for today, folks.