A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Because A Wall Is A Very Big Weapon
We’ll get back to the God-awful news – burning planet, dying children, earthquakes, corruption, the carnage of senseless lost wars, racism unending – which clearly isn’t going anywhere. But for now what better way to take a break than joining street artist Banksy as he cruises through a parade of seaside towns in his ragged RV to create his latest marvels of art, wit, rage and joy. Days after reports of a possible string of new Banksy murals across coastal England, the still-anonymous, self-described “overrated graffiti artist” – “Nobody ever listened to me until they didn’t know who I was” – confirmed the new works are his in a cool-unto-itself video of his “Great English Spraycation.” Accompanied by a lively accordion rendition of Dance Monkey by Australian singer Tones & I, Banksy rambles through the modest towns of Lowestoft, Gorleston, Oulton Broad, Cromer, and Great Yarmouth, with fellow-travelers sometimes filming the son of Bristol at his furtive work.
Banksy’s themes are very much of the world, with whimsy added: During the early days of COVID, he raised millions for health charities with his Game Changer kid playing with a superhero nurse; his Create Escape mural on the former Reading prison, its inmate escaping down a spool of paper, was a tribute to Oscar Wilde and the power of art from a guy who’s argued, “Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing”; locals suspect the spraycation is his way of helping hardscrabble areas win their 2025 UK City of Culture bids. As usual, his wry new pieces – a panoply of rats at play, gulls with chips, cranes plucking, folks dancing, hermit crabs personifying homelessness and kids battling climate change – manage to simultaneously delight and illuminate our ills, confirming his maxim, “There’s nothing more dangerous than someone who wants to make the world a better place.” Not everyone values his latest effort: His video drolly includes a cranky older woman declaring it “mindless vandalism.” Nevertheless, he persists. “A wall is a very big weapon,” he says. “It’s one of the nastiest things you can hit someone with.”
First published in Common Dreams. Included in Vox Populi with permission.
A man waits at a bus stop below graffiti art by Banksy on a wall in Great Yarmouth, one of several new works from his road trip in seaside towns portrayed in “A Great British Spraycation.” Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images