New Banksy piece highlights the use of CS gas in Calais’s refugee camp


A new and confirmed work by Banksy appeared in Knightsbridge, London on Sunday 24th January. Directly opposite the French Embassy it depicts an image made famous by the film and play Les Miserables of a young girl, this time with tears streaming down her face. On the ground by her a can of CS Gas spews out its contents. The location of this piece is no accident. The French authorities have recently denied using CS gas to clear sections of the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp. Banksy’s piece includes a QR code with a link to a video from Calais Migrant Solidarity from the 5th and 6th of January 2016 which seems to clearly show that this claim hides the truth. The Guardian report that concussion grenades and rubber bullets were also alledgedly used in what can only be described as an assault.



The subject of the new piece, Cosette, is based on an iconic image from Les Miserables


CS Gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades have reported been used in early January to clear parts of the ‘Jungle’


A nearby QR code links to this video


The new piece is located on hoardings directly opposite the French Embassy



Banksy turning the spot light back on Calais

New work by Banksy has appeared in the Calais area (photo:

While the rest of the world is busy solving its problems through the application of high explosives and automatic weapons the plight of those in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais and elsewhere in Europe has taken something of a backseat. Well, except for that quote about barring Muslims from the US by an odd looking American who treads a fine line between running for President and being sectioned.

So it’s good to see Banksy use his return to outside graffiti pieces to start up the discussion once more. Those people most of us left behind in the summer (I’m excluding the crew from Dismaland and many other volunteers who have been helping with shelter and food and maybe you here) are largely still there with many new arrivals adding to their numbers. There’s now four new pieces in Calais over on but there’s only one that’s really grabbing the attention of media organisations worldwide. It depicts Steve Jobs carrying an early Apple computer and a bag of possessions. It looks like he’s a fugitive and the accompany text says:

“We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant.

“Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”

Steve Jobs (photo from

Yeah, the point here is clear but despite some reports in the media I very much doubt Banksy is only concerned with ensuring that the next technology entrepreneur makes it across the Channel. He’s pointing out that there is human worth in these refugees regardless of whether or not they make it to the board. Because right now they are being systematically dehumanised, portrayed as savages at the gates, potential terrorists even when they just want a better life. Because that’s a damn sight easier than actually doing something about the situation other than the application of high exp… you get the point. As the other piece in the Jungle say “Maybe this whole situation will just sort itself out”. As if.


Elsewhere in Calais there is a stencil of a reworked version of Theodore Gericault’s  painting Raft of the Medusa. Those trying to stay afloat are trying to attract the attention of a luxury yacht in the distance. Maybe Banksy’s intention was not to make the painting too ambiguous. Of course because Steve Jobs isn’t on the raft it hasn’t garnered the same headlines but the message is still there. Maybe its time to decide if we’re the ones on the yacht and if we are whether we can do something to help those on the raft?





Banksy’s Dismaland in pictures

Banksy’s latest project ‘Dismaland’ opened to the public on Saturday 22nd August 2015. Featuring work by more than 50 artists from 17 different nations he has assembled a mass of thought provoking, topical and challenging art (you try knocking the anvils off their perches). This picture heavy post contains a small fraction of what is included in the show – allow yourself plenty of time to take it all in if you’re visiting….

Dismaland occupies the site of the disused and derelict Tropicana Lido on the sea front in Weston Super Mare. Through a clever piece of deception its existence was kept quiet right up to just a few days before the show by claiming that a film entitled ‘Grey Fox’ was going to be shot there. A perfect excuse to explain all the construction work and to have Security stop prying eyes.

Another colossal vehicle is this security forces truck from Northern Ireland repurposed as a fountain and with a a children’s slide sticking out the other side. It appears beached in the Lido pool which is full of weeds and worse. Definitely not a place for a dip.

Banksy’s Dismaland installations often relate to animal themes. On the fairground carousel one of the horses has been hoisted by its hind legs while a slaughterhouse worker takes a break underneath from preparing lasagne – a clear reference to the horse meat scandal of recent years. Round the other side a marauding bunch of anarchists who seem to be part of the show jump on the ride waving banners whilst standing on the backs of their steeds.

Near the back of the venue where the arched diving boards structure used to stand an orca whale jumps from the confines of a toilet through a hoop into an unfeasibly small paddling pool full of dark liquid. Maybe a comment by Banksy on these beautiful creatures being trapped performing tricks in pools that are microscopic in comparison to their natural habitats.

Again from Banksy is this over the top illustration of seagulls attacking humans. Seemingly referencing recent media stories about the “menace of seagulls” but taking it to extremes it also provides a photo opportunity for anyone who cares to sit on the bench.

Of course this shows not all about Banksy (more of whom later) – there are around 50 odd international artists who have either contributed work or are actively engaged on site during the show. Time for a whistle stop tour around some of the other works….

Nettie Wakefield was working on site producing portraits in pencil of the back of guests heads. This really gives her the opportunity to show off her stunning technique in capturing every last detail including the way the light falls on each strand.

Wasted Rita from Portugal has a wall of her dark advice at the rear of the castle. The power of the simple written word.

Dotted around the site are a series of yellow signs to make you think about the your stay in Dismaland.

More direct thought provocation is provided in the form of these bus billboard take overs. A nearby stall provides instruction leaflets on how you can open these ubitiquous advert stands and place in your own posters.

Escif can be found in the far left hand corner with a series of heads and this piece depicting a tree stump in which the embedded axe is sprouting new shoots – ‘Hope’.

Ben Long’s scaffolding pole horse dominated early pictures of the exhibition and it’s easy to see why. Now dwarfed by the nearby big wheel it has plenty of competitors for the most iconic image of the show.

David Cameron gets the shove…if only.

Vying for ‘best in show’ is Jimmy Cauty’s simply breathtaking in its scale and detail ‘Aftermath Displacement Principle’. 23 crates worth of riot torn city featuring around 3000 1/87th scale police officers all uniquely made from modified model railway workers. An exhibit you can stare at for a very long time and still find something new, theres a wealth of little scenarios to take in whilst trying to comprehend the whole. Can you find the Queen making an official visit?

Moving inside for a bit you enter what is essentially a gallery space but first you walk past illuminated display boards from Jenny Holzer and Banksy’s reaper bumper car installation. Every so often disco music pumps out, the lights come on and Death attempts to escape the confines of his electric prison by slamming into the edge of the arena all to no avail.

Entering the main hall theres a plethora of different style on show. Damien Hirst’s standout piece has a beach ball held constantly aloft over a bed of blades by the push from air being blown upwards. If it it ever stops the balloon will surely drop and be burst.

Some of the painting technique on show is exquisite. From a distance Lee Madgwick’s paintings of urban buildings in idyllic countryside settings look like photoshop creations. A closer inspection reveals their intricate detail.

Australian Dietrich’s Wegner’s mushroom cloud tree house dominates the central room capturing a moment of beauty borne out of destruction. In that cloud are the debris of peoples lives, the structures they lived in and everything they held dear to them.

Nearby is the embroidery of Severija Inciraauskaite-Kriauneviciene. Instead of being encased in wooden samplers its cross stitched over unusual objects, most bizarrely over what looks like a van or car door.

Banksy has a huge piece in the hall which I’ll feature in a later post but almost unoticed near ground level and to the left of it appears to be his tribute to P183. Its location is interesting as it’s right next to one of the signature pieces of the entire show.

Outside again there are yet many more highlights to see. The Cruel bus has an exhibition showing how design is used to maintain power and control over us all whilst a large tent contains a mass of both beautifully painted and hurriedly scrawled protest banners and signs. Of particular note are the ones by Ed Hall who has a long history of providing trade union groups and others with memorable protest art.

There’s a wide variety of untypical fairground attractions with loaded outcomes – I tried my hand at both the duck pool and Insect and Bast’s bling stand both to no avail. but it was still a lot of fun. Elsewhere there are rotating caravans, rickety big wheels and a children’s sand pit with a sandcastle so large that Dad’s on the nearby Weston beach will struggle to impress their kids in comparison.

For me the most haunting exhibit from the exhibition was the boating lake. Looking like it’s set in front of the white cliffs of Dover you put your pound in the slot and take control of either a boat full of people or a patrol boat. In the water bodies float by conveying the deadly serious plight of those still breathing on board the boats.

 On the wall of the lido buildings down the left hand side is this ingenious painting of a woman taking a shower while a boy peeps in. Is the other boy on look out duty or is he still more interested in his childhood toys? Either way he is not joining in on the others curiosity.

Of course everyone wants to go into the Castle and here Banksy has a surprise in store. If you are asked to have your photo taken do as instructed and look to the right. Maybe even crouch a little and pretend to take a photo while doing so – you’ll understand why when you exit this scene of a princess in a coach crash being photographed by paparazzi – an obvious reference to the death of Princess Diana.

Despite the length of this post there is still much more to see, here’s some general views to wrap up with with a couple of other highlights.

Banksy’s take on the Little Mermaid

The nightly burning of Jeffrey Archer’s novels

The view from the bar looking towards Weston’s other attractions

Dismaland at night

And of course at the end of every day in the Magic Kingdom there are fireworks – in Dismaland these made appearance at the end of the opening night.

So much more to see, it’s far from a dismal experience. Watch the Dismaland trailer. Book tickets to Dismaland and find out more information on the official Dismaland website.


Banksy’s Dismaland – open now!


Banksy’s Dismaland now open until 27th September.

I was lucky enough to go on Friday night and it more than lives up to expectations. Amazing work on display and so much to see.

Already very popular I’d advise you to always check for the latest information before travelling long distances. If you’re local try your luck on the day – the venue has a decent capacity. The ticketing problems appear to have been because of the massive public interest – I’m sure these will get sorted out and there are still several weeks left.

A few highlights from the opening night below – a lot more to come in the next post.

‘Big Rig Jig’ by Mike Ross

Art appears everywhere including the food and bar areas.

One of the most topical and thought provoking pieces on display is Banksy’s take on the put in a pound and drive a model boat around a lake attraction. Except that you control a refugee boat or one owned by the authorities and there are bodies in the water…

Jimmy Cauty’s Aftermath Displacement Principle. This shot shows just a tiny corner of a colossal model landscape contacting 3000 riot police officers.

In a striking parallel with Disney there were fireworks at the end of the opening night.

View from Weston Super Mare’s sea front was stunning.

More photos soon



Dismaland Bemusement Park

DISMALAND BEMUSEMENT PARK – opens this weekend featuring work by Banksy and a whole raft of other artists:

Visit the official site here for all the latest details: – further information below.

This weekend sees the opening of the Dismaland Bemusement Park at the derelict Tropicana Lido site in Weston Super Mare, England. Closed since 2000 the North Somerset venue has been the subject of constant wrangling and plans over its future but it looks like, courtesy of Banksy’s latest project, it’s about to get a whole new lease of life – well for five weeks until the 27th September at least anyway.

Inspiring image from

Promising a “festival of art, amusements and entry level anarchism” it costs just 3 quid to get in and is easily accessible by public transport from its location on the sea front. Tickets are available from the Dismaland site from Friday 21st August so get in early if you’re planning on going.

The international roster of nearly 50 artists is nothing short of amazing and includes Banksy, Damien Hirst, Block 9, Escif, Jimmy Cauty, Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips, Paul Insect and BAST to name but a few. Also appearing over the five weeks are live events on Friday nights. You can rest assured I’ll be trying to get tickets for both Sleaford Mods (18th Sept) and Pussy Riot (25th Sept). In fact maybe I should have kept that bit quiet in hindsight….

Good luck getting the tickets you want.

Site illustration:


For full details including opening, ticket purchasing and site map go here: Dismaland

Full list of artists at time of writing:

Amir Schiby (Israel) / Axel Void (USA) / Banksy (UK) / Barry Reigate (UK) / Ben Long (Sweden) / Bill Barminski (USA) / Block 9 (UK) / Brock Davis (USA) / Caitlin Cherry (USA) / Caroline McCarthy (UK) / Damien Hirst (UK) / David Shrigley (UK) / Dorcas Casey (UK) / Dietrich Wegner (USA) / Ed Hall (UK) Escif (Spain) / Espo (USA) / Fares Cachoux (Syria) / Greg Haberny (USA) / James Joyce (UK) / Jani Leinonen (Finland) / Jeff Gillette (USA) / Jenny Holzer (USA) / Jessica Harrison (UK) / Jimmy Cauty (UK) / Josh Keyes (USA) / Julie Burchill (UK) / Kate MacDowell (USA) / Laura Lancaster (UK) / Leigh Mulley (UK) / Lush (Australia) / Mana Neyestani (Iran) / Maskull Laserre (Canada) / Michael Beitz (USA) / Mike Ross (USA) / Nettie Wakefield (UK) / Paco Pomet (Spain) / Paul Insect & BAST (UK/USA) / Peter Kennard & Cat Phillips (UK) / Polly Morgan (UK) / Ronit Baranga (Israel) / Scott Hove (USA) / Severija In?irauskait?-Kriaunevi?ien? (Lithuania) / Shadi Al Zaqzouq (Libya) / Suliman Mansour (Palestine) / Tinsel Edwards (UK)



New Banksy work in Gaza was updated earlier today with a host of new images from Gaza along with an accompanying ‘tourist guide’ video which explains the plight of its inhabitants. Surrounded on all sides with walls and a heavily patrolled sea Gaza is continuing to suffer outside much of the worlds view. Last years  operation Protective Edge was responsible for the obliteration of over 18,000 homes – but rebuilding is hampered by restrictions which mean cement cannot be imported.  Banksy appears to access what is to all intents and purposes a prison via an underground tunnel  and paints several pieces utilising the devastation around him. See more of the images below and the video on


Bomb damage, Gaza City (image


Everyone on the Internet likes looking at kittens…. (image


Watchtower Carousel (Image:


“If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral” (image


Context is king – a tale of two pieces was updated last week with two new pieces in coastal towns, the first in the South in Folkestone and the second in the East in Clacton on Sea. That’s where the similarities end – they both had quite different purposes and quite different responses.

Banksy in Folkestone (Photo:

‘Art Buff’ in Folkestone, a title surely with a double meaning? The buffing of graffiti with grey paint is a subject Banksy has addressed before (most notably in New Orleans) but this is a new take on the subject. Before and after photos of the Folkestone piece show that there was originally a crudely painted over piece of writing on a wall that just left a grey mess –  a typical response by town councils the nation over with their widely advertised graffiti reporting hotlines and removal programmes. Banksy has taken this scene and added a little old lady art buff, depicting her attentively inspecting the ‘artwork’  which now sits on a plinth whilst she listens  to an audio guide.  The wording on his website says ‘Part of the Folkestone Triennial. Kind of.’  Which implies his unauthorised participation in an event that occurs every three years that aims to put art on the streets and transform parts of the town into a creative hub (and has been pretty effective in doing so). Despite being covered in perspex in record time it has been drawing a steady stream of visitors and has inevitably started appearing on unofficial Tshirts and fridge magnets on sale in the local area.

The wall before (Photo:

And after (Photo:

The second piece to be revealed was in Clacton on Sea and has proved altogether more controversial. It depicts several native species of pigeon protesting about an African migrant. Despite it’s relatively obvious message ridiculing  attitudes someone allegedly reported it as racist graffiti and the council buffing teams were promptly despatched and removed it from the wall.

Nigel Brown, communications manager for the council, said “We would obviously welcome an appropriate Banksy original on any of our seafronts and would be delighted if he returned in the future.” A statement which completely and conveniently misses the point of why Clacton on Sea was chosen in the first place. The town is shortly to play host to a by election forced by the local Conservative MP’s defection to the UK Independence Party. With migration one of the key topics Clacton On Sea could well be on its way to be known not for its art (like Folkestone) but for the success of a right wing Little Englander party.

A Clacton On Sea resident (Photo:, love the way the join on the wall has been used to create a line for the birds to rest on)


Unofficial Banksy show in London – last few days

BANKSY The Unauthorised Retrospective
Curated by Steve Lazarides

Large scale exhibitions of Banksy works indoors in London are rare things indeed – especially if you exclude those that feature ripped off the wall artworks. The Cans Festival of 2008 (which technically was outside) and Crude Oils back in 2005 were probably the last official events. This is something of a disappointment to many visitors to the capital who often ask this site where they can see an exhibition of the artists works.  Asides from the locations map and the odd unofficial show put on by the Andipa gallery there’s not been much.

Trouncing all previous unauthorised shows and curated by Banksy’s former agent Steve Lazarides this one is actually worth seeing. Yes, the rarified atmosphere of a Sotheby’s gallery with its attendant security guards and receptionists seems partly at odds with the style of the work but if its the art you want to see then this is currently the place to do it. There are a healthy smattering of never seen before in public pieces along with those that haven’t been on show since they were presumably sold at previous exhibitions. Down in the basement are several walls full of some of the rarest Banksy prints you’ll ever set eyes on. Many are labelled as number 3 in their edition size. I’ll leave you to guess who has 1 and 2 (which roughly translates as I don’t know).

Here’s a taster of what’s on show – and don’t forget after the 25th July you’re unlikely to see much of this stuff again any time in the near future.

On the left is Monkey Queen, a stencil with oil and emulsion that was originally at the little attended Glasgow Arches ‘Peace Is Tough’ exhibition in 2001. In the middle there is the never seen in public before Burger King Kid work which featured in Wall And Piece. On the right Sunflowers From  Petrol Station which  appeared at Crude Oils in 2005.

By the entrance are some small glass cabinets chock full of contact sheets, rare stickers and other paraphernalia from Banksy’s early career. These give a great insight into some of Banksy’s earliest images, particularly in London.

Turf War – based on an inspired defacement of Winston Churchill’s statue outside Westminster. Originally on show high up at the Turf War exhibition of 2003.

Guantanamo Bay. Previously seen at Crude Oils, 2005 and Barely Legal in LA, 2006

Trolleys – Last seen at the LA exhibition Barely Legal, 2006

Bomb Middle England (Diptych) from 2000

Pest Control – Banksus Militus Vandulus: Originally covertly installed in the Natural History Museum in 2004

UFO: Last seen at Banksy vs Bristol Museum, 2009, previously on show at Barely Legal, Los Angeles, 2006.

Nice early piece from around 2000, never seen this one before. In the background is Bullet Proof David from the Barely Legal show

The print room downstairs includes six colour ways of Kate Moss Prints from an edition of 20. Ask the price if you dare.

Soup cans galore including the print that started it all on the left.

Flying Copper from the 2003 Turf War exhibition

Banksy The Unauthorised Retrospective closes 25th July 2014. Entry is free


The Sincura Show – Nothing to see here

No pictures on this post because I haven’t gone to see the exhibition above. Why? Because…

– it’s not authorised by the artist, in fact from the above I’d say he hates it.

– the organisers have destroyed the entire context of the pieces on display and then want you to cough up 20 quid to look at what was given to the public for free.

– it encourages the organisers and others to take Banksy pieces off walls where anyone could enjoy them and puts them in the hands of the moneyed elite with no morals.

There is no power without control. They’ve taken a gift to you and want to charge you to view it then say you can’t take pictures and that this is the last time you’ll see it. Why, because their aim is to sell to the highest bidder. They even employ goons to ensure no vandalism,… I could go on but really it’s all in this post on Graffoto .

If you want to see some real Banksy art in London this weekend check here.


What happened next – Banksy’s two new pieces

Two new pieces appeared last week. The first was identified on Sunday in Cheltenham and was widely attributed to Banksy but has yet to appear on his website. The second appeared on his website on Monday but its location in Bristol wasn’t reported until later in the week. Since this time they have both gathered massive media attention but for quite different reasons.

Cheltenham is home to the British Intelligence  Service’s Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ for short. It’s where  the Security Service MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 carry out some of their work. As part of this they have the power to monitor communications, a process that as Edward Snowden’s leaks have revealed is carried out on an industrial scale. Surveillance is nothing new but the sheer volume and ease with which it can be carried out now is something new. Oddly these stories have a tendency to disappear very quickly from the media, usually accompanied by a terse statement from GCHQ that it’s all nothing to worry about. For example:

“Our work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee”.

Err, so that explains why GCHQ have intercepted millions of webcam images taken in peoples homes via Optic Nerve of which 3 – 11 per cent contained images of people in states of undress? Was this authorised, necessary and proportionate? You’re an adult, I’ll let you decide.

So this piece is topical and it helps to keep the story in the media. GCHQ even provided a quote on the art work: “”This is the first time we have ever been asked to comment on art. “Although we are not qualified critics, we are as intrigued as the rest of the residents of Cheltenham about the appearance of the mysterious artwork. For those who are interested, our website gives a glimpse of what modern-day intelligence operatives are really like, although some may be disappointed by the lack of trench coats and dark glasses.”

Disappointed maybe but hardly surprised given that these are not essential items for modern surveillance.

Since the piece has appeared it has been painted over and restored and become quite a tourist attraction with a steady stream of visitors interacting with the art as captured by this time lapse video. The local authorities have taken an interest in the piece so if you’d like to see it without a plexi glass covering get down to the junction of Fairview Road and Hewlett Road, like now.

The second art work took a while longer than a few hours to pin down. Depicting a couple embracing each other it quickly becomes apparent that their gaze is not fixed on the other person but rather their own mobile phone held behind the others back. Despite being right next to the person they care about they choose to concentrate their thoughts on something or someone else.

Banksy – New work in Bristol (image:

Once discovered this piece was prised off the wall by the owner of the Boys Boxing Club that happened to be located next door. In a classic case of Finders Keepers he told a BBC news reporter that it was probably a gift from Banksy to solve his cash crisis for his facility to keep errant youngsters off the streets. No doubt if they didn’t take up boxing they’d be doing something anti social like, err, graffiti perhaps? When the reporter asked him if it was his wall he could only meekly reply that it was a wall. I think that this was the moment he realised there might just be some problems with ownership here. That and the two Police Officers turning up to offer their take on the subject. The piece has since been taken away to be displayed in the Bristol Museum (the scene of Banksy’s blockbuster of a summer exhibition in 2009).

The original location for the new Banksy piece (Image:

CCTV footage appeared of the installation and some commentators seemed surprised at the level of organisation involved with the camera capturing a white van and several figures working behind coverings to create the piece. Anyone who has read Banksy’s interview with Shepard Fairey will not be surprised by this, I’ll leave you with his take on the subject:

“I’m always trying to move on. You’re not supposed to get dumber as you get older. You’re not supposed to just do the same old thing. You’re supposed to find a new way through and carry on. I invest back into the street bombing from selling shit. Recently, I’ve been pretending to be a construction manager and paying cash to get scaffolding put up against buildings, then I cover the scaffolding with plastic sheeting and stand behind it making large paintings in the middle of the city. I could never have done that a few years ago”.

More pictures:

The phone box has rapidly become an interactive art exhibit.

Apparently these are not what modern spies look like. Who knew? It’s almost as if the artist was using them as a metaphor.

The most photographed phone box in Britain this week

Congratulations, you (or your landlord) has just won the lottery / the opportunity to have a constant stream of people larking about outside your house.