What Banksy’s Been Up To in Lockdown?

Have you heard about Banksy? If not, here’s a quick summary: he is the best-known anonymous street artist of our times. Banksy has emerged in the early 1990s from Bristol’s street artist community through his subversive works and dark humor. He is a master of mischief who often gives the finger to the “respected” or “proper” art-loving community – just think of his “Girl With Balloon”, a framed painting sold at an auction for $1.4 million, only to be shredded automatically in front of the buyer at Sotheby’s. 

The ongoing pandemic doesn’t seem like a good time for street artists, given the restrictions – but this didn’t stop Banksy from doing his thing. The man behind Dismaland, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and countless pieces of street art called vandalism by some, valuable work by others, has stayed active even under the virus’s threat.

Working from home

If you lock a street artist into their apartment, you’ll give them a brand new canvas to work on. After all, every apartment has walls, right? 

The lockdown didn’t stop Banksy from painting (and sharing his work online) – even though his wife was not very happy about his choice for a home office: the bathroom.

My wife hates it when I work from home. /Banksy/

Luckily, through the ongoing effort of the NHS, the streets were not off-limits for too long, so the artist could continue his work where it belongs.

Game Changer

Many artists, actors, and celebrities have thanked the frontline workers – especially doctors and nurses fighting the virus day after day – for their hard work and dedication. Banksy is not an exception.

Banksy’s latest artwork called “Game Changer” appeared overnight in the lobby of the University Hospital Southampton in England, with a note attached that reads “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white”. The drawing depicts a boy leaving his old toys behind, playing with the true superheroes of our times: medical personnel.

The picture will remain in the hospital until this fall when it will be auctioned off to raise funds for England’s NHS.

White problem

If you know Banksy’s work, you know that he is an avid social critic. Of course, he couldn’t stay silent amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. On his Instagram, he shared this painting:

… and he attached the following message to it:

“At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue.

But why would I do that? It’s not their problem. It’s mine.

People of color are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. This faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t – no-one will let them in the apartment upstairs.

This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”