In Very Little Helps, Banksy critiques the spread of mega-corporations, which can harm local communities. Banksy flag reminds us that, like a nation-state, capitalism has a territorial grip on our lives. The title plays on Tesco's slogan, "Every Little Helps" to mount a direct attack on capitalism’s insincerity.
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Also known as Tesco Flag, Banksy’s 2008 screen print Very Little Helps subverts the motto and logo of major British supermarket chain, Tesco. In the image, a group of three children are depicted surrounding a flagpole; but instead of raising a flag to full-mast, they raise a Tesco-branded plastic carrier bag. With their hands held to their hearts, the group pledge their allegiance to this ubiquitous symbol of capitalism.
A cutting reference to Tesco’s famous slogan - ‘Every Little Helps’ - this Banksy work seems to denounce the widespread presence of the supermarket chain on Britain's high streets, a ubiquity that the artist sees as central to driving out diversity and independence. The choice of the flag motif also appears to emphasise a criticism of corporations that sees them likened to 'new nation states' - enormous, amorphous entitities with far-reaching political and social clout.
Originally painted as an in situ mural in London, Very Little Helps soon became the subject of much public and media attention. This subsequently led to the artwork being vandalised - which then provoked further discussion on the distinctions between 'street art' and 'graffiti'. After the work was partially damaged - its 'Tesco flag' painted over and replaced with a tag from rival artist King Robbo - the work was placed under perspex.
In 2008, Very Little Helps was released as a series of 299 signed prints. At Pictures on Wall's first and only 'open day', held on the 6th and 7th of December that year, these works were auctioned in a lottery. Other prizes up-for-grabs included a tour of the now-defunct printhouse, live printing sessions, and various graffiti activities. The Very Little Helps lottery raised £24,406.61; all proceeds were donated to Sightsavers, an international NGO and charity working to prevent avoidable blindness, and to promote equality for people with visual impairments and other disabilities.