Upon the unveiling of his largest and most elaborate work to date, ‘Dismaland’ we thought it was time to look back at the works our Britain’s most renowned street artist, Banksy.
Inspired by graffiti artist 3D (who later went on to form trip-hop group, Massive Attack), Banksy began as a freehand artist in Bristol around the early 1990s. He became part of the larger underground scene as he continued to develop his own style and develop his techniques. Towards the later part of the decade he began to incorporate stencils into his work before opting to produce entire pieces from stencils around the early 2000s. He claims that this decision was made whilst hiding from the Police under a rubbish lorry, the stencilled serial number giving the spark of inspiration to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
The newly adopted stencil technique became hugely recognisable and Bansky became much better known for his art around Bristol and London. His more popular themes were shocking or humorous pictures which were sometimes combined with slogans. His messages were usually satirical with anti-war and anti-establishment leanings. By 2002 he made his Los Angeles exhibition debut and in 2003 he took part in a London warehouse exhibition called Turf Wars. This rise of interest led to some different work emerging including his subverted paintings such as an interpretation of Monet’s Lily Pond, adapted to include urban detritus such as litter and a discarded shopping trolley.
In 2004, Banksy started to veer towards installation art, in August of that year he produced a £1million worth of spoof £10 notes substituting the Queen with Diana, Princess of Wales with ‘sy’ being added to ‘Bank(sy) of England’. In the film ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ he explains that he decided to put an immediate stop on the project when a wad of notes were thrown over a fence at the Reading Festival. This was fine until people managed to spend the notes (making them highly illegal). A limited run of 50 signed sheets containing ten uncut notes were also produced and sold for £100 each to commemorate the death of Princess Diana. One of these sheets sold in October 2007 at auction in London for £24,000. By 2010 Banksy, whether loved or hated, had well made his way into British mainstream culture. His film, Exit Through the Gift Shop’ was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and he had even produced a ‘couch gag’ for The Simpsons.
It was confirmed yesterday following rumours earlier this week that Banksy’s latest project was set to open today. Based in the former Tropicana in Weston Super-mare, ‘Dismaland’ theme park has opened its doors. Featuring work from artists Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer, this is Bansky’s most elaborate work to date. The park will feature an alternative take on Punch & Judy, performances from bands The Sleaford Mods and Massive Attack.
From the moment you walk through the fake airport-style security you get the dismal tone of Dismaland. Grumpy guards play the part astonishingly well.
Inside you see Banksy’s Cinderella castle and his Grim Reaper dodgem, which dances to the song Staying Alive.
But you also get a heavy dose of other local and international artists. Damien Hirst makes contributions alongside others.
And the organisers are keen to point to the show’s art credentials rather than it being just street art alone.
– Chris Kelly, BBC News
Bansky is reportedly taking security seriously at his satirical theme park and has duly issued a statement explaining: “The following are strictly prohibited in the Park – spray paint, marker pens, knives and legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporation.”
Dismaland opens today and more information can be found here.