World-renowned artist Banksy is the antithesis of commissioned art; he makes street art. And he dedicates his most recent work to the NHS staff who had been working hard amid the coronavirus pandemic. His latest creation is an almost fully monochrome painting he called Game Changer, which depicts a young boy playing with a toy. And in true Banksy fashion, a poignant twist is added to the artwork.
The lad, kneeling and sporting dungarees and a t-shirt, can be seen playing with action figures of famous superheroes. In a meaningful gesture, however, Batman and Spiderman have been neglected in a wastepaper bin. Instead, the boy chose to play with a figure of an NHS nurse wearing a surgical mask and a cape. The nurse’s arm is outstretched and pointing forward, Superman-style.
Banksy’s latest work is a tribute to the brave healthcare workers in the UK battling against the deadly virus.
The Banksy piece is now displayed in Southampton General Hospital and will remain there until autumn. After that, it will be auctioned off to raise money for NHS charities, according to a spokeswoman for Banksy.
The artist left a note for the hospital workers.
“Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white,” the message read.
The only color within the painting is the Red Cross symbol seen across the nurse’s apron.
In cooperation with the hospital’s managers, the one square meter painting was hung in a foyer near the emergency department on level C of the building.
Paula Head, CEO of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, spoke to the BBC about the artist’s touching gesture.
“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 recognize the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honor.”
“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,” she added.
The hospital has already lost two of its workers to COVID-19. Mike Brown, 61, is a linen porter who had worked in NHS for two decades. He died on April 29, after being treated in the hospital’s ICU. The other was Katy Davis, 38, a worker in child health. She had been feeling unwell for some time before her admission to the hospital. She passed away on April 21.
In April, another Banksy creation made its way into the artist’s own home. It featured a group of rats wreaking havoc into his bathroom. One can be seen knocking the bathroom mirror to one side, stepping on a tube of toothpaste and spilling its contents, hanging on the light pull, and swinging on a towel ring. The artist shared five photos of his work on Instagram and captioned it with: “My wife hates it when I work from home.”
Recently, a blue surgical mask was placed over Banksy’s long-time standing street art called The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum in Bristol. It shows Banksy’s take on Vermeer’s famed Girl with a Pearl Earring. He added his own twist by replacing the earring with an outdoor security alarm.
Indeed, the most beautiful messages can sometimes be conveyed only through art. And in this case, Banksy was able to do it perfectly well.