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Banksy created Nola, or Rain Girl, to commemorate the devastation caused to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As Banksy depicts the young girl discovering that her umbrella is itself the source of a downpour, he lampoons authorities’ negligent response to the natural disaster, which led to further grief.

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Meaning & Analysis

Banksy’s Nola, or Umbrella Girl, was first painted in the Marigny neighbourhood of New Orleans, USA as a response to the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina.

The work was part of a series of 14 murals which referenced the natural disaster, which wreaked havoc upon New Orleans in 2005. Its title references the city's affectionate nickname: ‘Nola’. The first Nola signed print was released later in 2008 in a limited edition of 289 signed works. The image portrays a young girl stood in the pouring rain, carrying an umbrella; in a characteristic Banksy twist, the girl extends a tentative cupped hand, only to find that the umbrella is in fact the source of the downpour - as opposed to a means of protection from it.

Now one of the most popular Banksy prints, the first edition of Nola featured white raindrops while later, larger editions comprised 63 prints featuring grey rain. In this edition, 32 prints featured neon orange rain, while 31 others rendered the same precipitation in a neon yellow. 66 artist proofs, issued around the same time, also feature multicolour rain. All of these works are numbered and signed by the artist.

10 Facts About Banksy's Nola

Nola by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Nola © Banksy 2008

1. Where is Nola by Banksy located?

Banksy’s Nola mural takes its name from the acronym New Orleans, Louisiana. As the name might let on, Nola, also known as Umbrella Girl or NOLA, first appeared in the historic Marigny district of New Orleans, in the historic Marigny district, in 2008. Banksy had stencilled 14 murals in the city around the same time, all inspired by the devastating events of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Nola is now one of the most popular and best known from the series.

Nola by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Nola © Banksy 2008

2. What does Nola depict?

Banksy’s Nola shows a young girl standing in the rain beneath an umbrella. As she tentatively stretches one hand out, she realises that the rain is falling from within her umbrella’s canopy and not from the sky.

Nola by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Nola © Banksy 2008

3. What does Banksy's Nola mean? Why is it significant?

Nola translates tragedy into art. Although it had been three years since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was still recovering from the event at the time Banksy visited. Over 80% of the city had been flooded, thousands of people had lost their lives, and many more were still missing. The city was so badly affected because the government had purposely built weak flood defences to save money.

Nola is Banksy’s comment on the government’s actions: the umbrella, which is supposed to protect the little girl, is actually the cause of her suffering. This directness makes Nola one of Banksy’s most outspoken political artworks.

Nola (Grey Rain) by Banksy - MyArtBroker

Nola (Grey Rain) © Banksy 2008