Jack and Jill Banksy
Banksy’s screen print Jack and Jill, named after a traditional English nursery rhyme but also referred to as Police Kids, was released as a limited edition of 350 pieces in 2005. The edition contains 200 unsigned prints and 150 signed prints. That same year, the artist also produced 22 Artist Proofs pieces in pink. Unlike most of Banksy’s works, Jack and Jill was never painted in the street and came only as a screen print. The artwork Jack and Jill combines Banksy’s both classic spray-paint and stencilling techniques with humour and a sense of ironic social commentary on today’s society.
Painted on a blocked sky blue background (or pink background for the very limited edition of 22), Jack and Jill, also called Police Kids, portrays two children running gleefully through water and towards the viewer. Both characters are painted in Banksy’s iconic stencilled style, mostly in black and white with a few spots of colour. The boy and the girl are dressed for the summer, bare legs and arms and have smiles on their faces. The young girl is holding a basket of flowers, probably freshly picked. At first glance, it seems like both kids run together in what appears to be a beautiful sunny afternoon in the countryside, carefree and innocent. Except that the two children are wearing bulletproof vests with the word « POLICE » written in capital letters across their chests.
Using one more time his typical subversion technique in Jack and Jill, Banksy uses children in bulletproof police jackets to contrast the supposed freedom and innocence of childhood. The blocked sky blue background reinforces the impression that this scene is a pastiche of innocence. By showing kids being restricted by the bulky vests they wear, the artist makes a comment on the way law enforcement is restricting people's freedom. On the other hand, as a reference to the 18th century English nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill, in which both children went up the hill to fetch a pail of water and then fell down, Banksy's artwork suggests that children definitely need more protection. To finish, Jack and Jill may also refer to how over-protective parents can be nowadays.