‘Barcelona Skyline’ (2010)
‘Sky artist’ Christopher Banks interviewed by Mike Delaney
Mike Delany: When did you first come up with the idea for your Sky Art project?
Christopher Banks: I first started showing my work publicly in about ’96.
MD: How do you feel about the fact that you’re only now just starting to get any recognition? Has it been a frustrating journey? Where you ever tempted to just give up?
CB: For the first few years, yes absolutely. It was very a frustrating period for me. Back in the mid 90′s I was desperate to make an impression in the art world, you know. I had just finished my arts degree and I wanted to become, you know, The Next Big Thing. I was kind of arrogant back then … I guess we all are at that age.
I thought if I started using the sky as my canvas I would immediately get noticed. I even thought I’d be on the front page of every newspaper, but I soon learned the hard way that no one actually pays any attention to what’s happening in the sky. We’re all too busy with our hectic lives at ground level to bother looking up! Our great grandparent’s generation might have learned how to read the sky but these days everyone works indoors. We even travel about in little underground trains now. In fact I continued with my work partly to explore this theme, I wanted to see just how far I could push it before people started to notice my work. It’s just amazing how oblivious most people are to the world around them – especially above their heads.
MD: That’s a fascinating perspective. I’ve been doing a bit of research and I notice that you’ve exhibited your work all over the developed world, with only a few notable exceptions such as Iran, Cuba and North Korea. Is there anywhere left where you would still like to exhibit?
CB: I’d really like to do the North and South poles. That is my next goal currently. It will be very difficult but I feel I must constantly challenge myself. I like to explore the limits of what is possible, for myself and for art. I hope to do at least one of the poles by the end of this year.
MD: You’ve always refused to explain how you make your sky art, do you have any plans to ever reveal the technique in the future?
CB: Perhaps one day……. But not anytime soon. I like to keep people guessing (laughs).
‘Criss Cross Sodomy’ (2004)
‘Parallel Psychosis’ (2010)
‘Radial GaGa’ (2006)
‘Shire Horse Sky Fantasy’ (2007)
‘The Inconsequentialness of Exactitude’ (2009)
‘Strip Club Anecdote’ (2008)
‘Blue Violation’ (2006)
‘Pyramid Hatchings’ (2009)
‘Silicone Wish’ (2007)
MD: You routinely sell your art works for upwards of £500,000. Does it surprise you that people are willing to pay so much for a piece of art that they can never truly own and which never lasts more than a day?
CB: No not at all. It shows they value art for art’s sake and not just as a material investment. We’re all going to die one day anyway, so it’s all wasted money in the end. I regard my sales to be an act of appreciation and support from those who enjoy my work.
MD: And I have to ask, do you have anything to say about your detractors who accuse you of being a fraud?
CB: My detractors are ignorant buffoons who know nothing. They are jealous that is all. I laugh at them.
MD: But I take it you are aware that many people say your artworks are not made by you at all but are in fact part of a secret operation – or operations – to infuse the atmosphere with aluminium, barium and other materials to make the atmosphere a more suitable ‘conductor’ for facilities like HAARP. Other alleged operations include geo-engineering, cloud seeding, weather manipulation, blocking the sun’s rays and even ‘slow kill’ depopulation by heavy metal poisoning.
CB: Look, you can believe all that conspiracy nonsense if you want to. But do you really think if people were really doing all that they could keep it a secret?
MD: Well, to be fair, atmospheric manipulation is hardly a secret. (I show him this website page on my laptop)
CB: So what! Anyone can put any old nonsense up on the web – it doesn’t mean anything. They just want to attack me as an artist.
MD: What about the dozens of patents which have been filed directly relating to these kinds of operations? (I show him this list)
CB: Patents don’t prove anything. Anyone can file a patent. So what?
MD: So you still insist they are all your work then?
CB: Yes, of course it is. This is my art, this is my life’s work!
MD: OK, so in that case do you take responsibility for the alleged negative environmental and health effects caused as these heavy metals and other substances float down to the ground or are washed down by rainfall? (I show him this youtube video).
CB: Oh here we go – more conspiracy nonsense! This is so pathetic, I thought you were better than this.
MD: Are you suggesting hospital staff who notice the health effects are conspiracy theorists? (I show him this video) Or what about military veterans – are they conspiracy theorists? (I show him this video)
CB: OK then, if these people are that credible why don’t these stories make it onto the news?
MD: That’s a very good question. By ‘news’ I take it you mean the mainstream news which is owned by a handful of parent corporations and gets most of its stories from organisations like the AP?
CB: So you think the news is controlled too do you?
MD: I don’t ‘think’ anything. What I know is that people are bypassing the mainstream media to freely document and discuss this stuff all over the world. All over the world! (I show him this time lapse video of the sky over London and then this video taken in Hertfordshire). Now, please tell me – are these examples of your artwork?
CB: Look, I don’t recall every work I make, how could I? Now, if you want to believe a load of conspiracy nonsense that’s your business but don’t try and drag me into it. I’m a serious artist and not some basement dwelling internet conspiracy nutter with too much time on my hands. Now can we please talk about my new book, as agreed?
MD: Yes of course. You have a new book coming out, correct?
CB: Yes, it’s a collection of photographs documenting some of my earlier sketches and experimental works which I exhibited all over the world.
MD: And how much is it?
CB: £44.99 for the limited edition hardback edition – of 1000 copies only – and £29.99 for the paperback edition. The book is called ‘Painting the Sky – A Sky Artist’s Global Journey of Discovery’.
MD: And when is it going to be on sale?
CB: This summer. Can I go now?
MD – Since doing this interview in the beginning of March this year, Christopher Banks has abandoned his Sky Art Project, cancelled the release of his book and donated a small fortune to various good causes. He now lives on a small farm on the Outer Hebrides with his wife.
His last tweet, two weeks ago, simply said “the blue skies here are so rich. so beautiful. no more white lies. I’m sorry. I love life”