Grannies is an original, limited edition screen print that was first displayed as a painting at Banksy’s iconic 2006 American exhibition Barely Legal, that took place in a warehouse in Los Angeles. It was shown alongside 100 unsigned screen print editions printed by Modern Multiples, that sold for $500 apiece. It is a well-known design by Banksy that is regularly in demand, and its relatively low edition size further contributes to its desirability. In 2007, Banksy’s UK-based printer Pictures of Walls released just 150 Grannies signed prints and 600 unsigned prints as well as a hand finished signed print edition of just 11. Grannies is one of six prints belonging to a rare and valuable collection referred to as the Barely Legal Print Set, which also included the works Morons, Applause, Trolleys, Sale Ends and Festival. Grannies is one of the most humorous works from the set. It portrays a couple of elderly grandmothers innocently knitting in their armchairs, accompanied by cups of tea and a chintz lampshade. However, on closer inspection, the text emblazoned in block-capitals across the jumpers they are knitting bear the unlikely slogans “Punks Not Dead” and “Thug For Life”.
The harmless grannies appear content to be partaking in such a humble act of rebellion. Rendered in Banksy’s famous black and white stencil style, the pair are set against a block pink background, a formal juxtaposition that only serves to heighten the humorous contradiction between scene and message. Perhaps this is to remind the viewer not to underestimate the relatively innocuous appearance of the older generation, which acts as a guise for their rebellious pasts. It could also be Banksy encouraging the older generation to pass down their acts of defiance to the future generations, along with the knitted jumpers they gift their grandchildren. Contrarily, it has even been suggested that the picture represents the gentrification of counter culture into a tame, mainstream movement suitable even for grannies.