As reported by The Guardian a few hours after the piece appeared at the Southampton General Hospital in the southern UK:
“Banksy left a note for hospital workers, saying: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”
After lockdown measures are lifted, the piece – which is approximately one metre square – will be put on public display. It will then be auctioned to raise money for NHS charities, a spokeswoman for Banksy confirmed.
Paula Head, the chief executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS foundation trust, said: “Here at Southampton, our hospital family has been directly impacted with the tragic loss of much loved and respected members of staff and friends. The fact that Banksy has chosen us to recognise the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honour.”
“It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art. It will no doubt also be a massive boost to morale for everyone who works and is cared for at our hospital.”
Banksy’s former agent and official photographer released his much-anticipated book in December 2019. “Banksy Captured” comes with plenty of previously unpublished photographs of Banksy and some amusing anecdotes from different street art adventures. It certainly is a must-read for any person interested in the early days of British street art.
Steve Lazarides is interviewed in an upcoming documentary, “Banksy and the rise of outlaw art,” to be released in February 2020. The film features, among others, street art legend and “Pictures on Walls” printer Ben Eine. Click for the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az9ttLyQe9E
By the way, Banksy’s unaltered voice at the beginning of the above-mentioned trailer is strikingly similar to the voice of the person presented as Banksy in an interview done at the Turf War exhibition in July 2003. Reporter Haig Gordon did the interview for ITV, but the footage was reported to have been forgotten in the ITV archive for 16 years until it surfaced in 2019:
This line of thought in the “Who is Banksy?” mystery is supported by some of the photographs in Lazarides’ new book, especially one on page 154 depicting Banksy consistent with the alleged Banksy in the resuscitated ITV interview. Whether this person is “one of the Banksys” or “the Banksy” will never be known. The puzzle is part of the overall artistic expression, in which we all play a role.
The T-shirts are only available for sale at an event in Bristol on 12 December. All of the proceeds go to four different homeless charities.
Banksy has collaborated with a number of NGOs during the years. One of them is, of course, the @lovewelcomes project, which among other things, made the coveted “Welcome Mat”, sold at the Gross Domestic Product.
The new mural is a bittersweet Christmas greeting featuring Ryan, a homeless person, being drawn away by two reindeers. The piece appeared in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter last Friday, the 6 December, and was confirmed on Banksy’s Instagram a few days later with a half minute long video.
According to an article published in The Guardian on 10 December:
“A commuter who happened to pass by on her way to work on Friday morning claims she saw a man setting up close to the wall. She said: “It was around 7 o’clock on Friday morning when I got off the bus and saw a man giving a few snacks to a homeless man who was sitting on the bench. I wouldn’t have thought it was Banksy, I just thought it was someone helping out the homeless.”
Martin Clarke, a jeweller at Vault 88, claims to have seen two workmen early on Friday morning working on the wall which is directly outside his shop. “I saw a small tent with a couple of lads in high-vis vests early in the morning on Friday. I thought they were from the council and were just doing a bit of upkeep. About half six I looked out the window and the tent had gone as had the lads. Then I saw it.
“I thought it was great. We weren’t sure what it was at first or who did it but we had a good idea.”
In Banksy’s own words:
“God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”