No Ball Games Banksy
No Ball Games first appeared on canvas in 2006 at the artist’s exhibition « Barely Legal », probably Banksy’s most significant show in the USA, which took place in downtown Los Angeles in the area of Skid Row. Three years later, Banksy reproduced the piece as a spray-painted mural in Tottenham, North London, more precisely on a shop wall at the junction between Tottenham High Road and Philip Lane.
Later in 2009, Banksy released a signed edition of 250 No Ball Games prints either printed on a green or grey block background. In 2013, the mural in Tottenham was removed from the wall by the Sincura group, divided in three parts and sold with the profits, estimated £500,000, going to help disadvantaged children.
The artwork shows two children playing together outside. The boy and the girl are playing a game of catch, throwing and catching what one would expect to be a ball, but is in fact a bright red street sign that ironically reads « No Ball Games ». The piece is painted in Banksy’s iconic black and white stencil style, except for the sign which is in typical red and white. The whole scene is made on a green or grey block background.
The artist uses irony to blame the excessive rules that restrict the citizens on a daily basis. Through the work No Ball Games, Banksy is making a social comment on overprotective governments like the « nanny state », by suggesting that even basic and fundamental children’s activities, like playing ball outside, are controlled by the state.
As an engaged artist, Banksy has expressed many times his position against authority through his art and exposing the quirks of today's society has always been the core of his artwork. In order to do so, Banksy places his characters at the heart of comical situations and he has a few times painted children to denounce for example law enforcement as in the work Jack and Jill or the loss of children's innocence in his iconic Girl With Balloon.