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Nola

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Critical Review

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

The work was part of a series of 14 murals which referenced the disaster that struck the city affectionately known as ‘Nola’. The first Nola signed print was subsequently released later that year as a limited edition of 289 signed works. The image captures a young girl carrying an umbrella; yet in a characteristic twist, the pouring rain appears, paradoxically, from within the canopy of the umbrella itself. The girl tentatively extends a cupped hand in confusion, only to find that the umbrella is, in fact, the source of the downpour, as opposed to offering protection from it.

Now one of the most beloved Banksy prints, the first edition of Nola featured white raindrops while later, larger editions included 63 prints with grey rain, 32 with neon orange rain, 31 in neon yellow and 66 artist proofs with multicolour rain. All are numbered and signed by the artist.

Why is Nola important?

The Nola mural was one of Banksy’s most powerful and beautiful stencils in New Orleans, and is the only one from the Hurricane Katrina series that remains on the street – the rest have been either destroyed, stolen or placed in museums and galleries. After it was valued around $7,000, Nola too suffered vandalism and attempted theft and in 2014 the work was covered with plywood and watched over by a security guard. It is now covered by transparent plexiglass.

Why we love Nola... "As well as being visually striking, this image of a young girl caught in a strange downpour carries particular resonance, functioning as a powerful memorial to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and an important part of street art history." - Joe Syer

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10 Facts About Banksy's Nola

Nola by Banksy

Nola © Banksy 2008

1. Banksy’s Nola mural takes its name from the acronym New Orleans, Louisiana

Nola, also known as Umbrella Girl or NOLA, first appeared in the historic Marigny district of New Orleans, 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. Nola translates tragedy into art

Although it had been three years since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was still recovering from the event. 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

Nola (Grey Rain) © Banksy 2008