A Great British Spraycation
After a week of speculation, the artist Banksy has finally claimed responsibility for pieces of street art that have appeared on the east coast of England, releasing a video on his Instagram page entitled “A Great British Spraycation”.
International holidays may be taking off again, but there is a new destination du jour right here in England, where it seems Banksy has been holidaying himself: East Anglia. When Banksy confirmed that he made eight new murals in Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Cromer, Lowestoft and Oulton Broad in Norfolk and Suffolk, he single handedly put these five English seaside towns back on the tourism map.
Katwijk Way, Lowestoft, Suffolk
In Lowestoft, Banksy made three murals across the city, including a child building a sandcastle with a crowbar, a seagull flying to eat “chips” from a construction skip, and a rat drinking a cocktail in a deckchair. A gull on the side of a property appeared to try to eat “chips” – made from pieces of insulation material – from a skip. The bird is stenciled in a very elaborate manner, flying over a skip filled with huge carved chips – a reference to the incorrigible bin-picking tendencies of those ferocious urban gulls.
London Road North, Lowestoft
In this mural, Banksy depicts a child building a sandcastle, which is quite a common activity for kids during summer time, but this kid does not play with a bucket and a spade, but with a crowbar… Furthermore, Banksy shows in the video he released that he actually started this work by destroying the pavement beneath. One can believe the artist is referencing the student uprising in Paris in 1968, which had the slogan “sous les pavés, la plage!”, which means “beneath the pavement, the beach”. Of course the fact that the child is using a crowbar can also be seen as a reference to a world of eviction and squatting.
On a sea wall in Cromer, Banksy has painted a group of hermit crabs, with one holding a placard reading “Luxury rentals only”. Cromer is known for its crabs while Banksy is known for his animals holding placards, such as his Placard Rats for example. As it is often the case with Banksy, this mural combines humor with a very serious message that refers to homelessness, refugees and the rental market. And of course, it is also a brilliant play on the idea of the hermit, a loner denied access to secure accommodation.
Sea Wall, Cromer, Norfolk
At Nicholas Everitt Park in Oulton Broad, Suffolk, Banksy has painted three children pretending to be sailors behind a sheet of metal. The mural is accompanied by the quote “We’re all in the same boat” – reminiscent of the quote in Banksy’s original Girl with Balloon mural, “There is always hope”. One child is looking ahead as though out to sea, another child stands behind looking over their shoulder, and a third child at the back of a boat appears to be leaning over the side holding a bucket.
Nicholas Everitt Park, Oulton Broad, Suffolk
The mural, done using Banksy’s characteristic stencil technique, and using the natural contours of the wall for background, depicts three small boys wearing sailor hats made of newspaper and 1930s-era Little Rascals-style clothing. The boat is sinking and the smallest child at the stern bails it out with a bucket. The child at the bow, wearing a sailor costume, gazes ahead through a rolled up newspaper “telescope,” while the middle child grabs hold of the “captain” and anxiously looks behind him to watch the boy bailing out the boat. The boat appears to be sinking fast, but the ship’s small captain seems unconcerned.
In Great Yarmouth, Banksy has used the roof of a bus shelter as the floor of a dance hall, and painted several very fine figures at a life-size scale. “Working at life-size scale, we are looking at a painter in his prime. Very few street artists can use stencils as expertly as this; and certainly no-one capable of doing so at speed from a very exposed perch.”
Admiralty Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
The piece is one of two accessible to the public in the Great Yarmouth Borough Council area. A security guard has been visible at the site since Banksy claimed the work and barriers have been placed around the bus stop. A Perspex cover has now been put over the piece. The council thanked Bansky for “all the wonderful art work” and said it was continuing “to celebrate his gifts to the town”.