No Ball Games Banksy
No Ball Games first appeared on canvas in 2006 at the artist’s exhibition Barely Legal that 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 in North London, 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 on both green and grey block backgrounds. In 2013, the mural in Tottenham was removed from the wall by the Sincura group, divided into three parts and sold for profits estimated at £500,000, which was put towards helping disadvantaged children.
No Ball Games portrays a pair of young children playing outside, throwing and catching what should be a ball, but is in fact a bright red street sign inscribed with the text No Ball Games. Rendered in Banksy’s signature black and white stencil style, except for the sign which stands out in red and white, the whole scene is superimposed on a muted background, much like the original backdrop of the urban wall.
The irony of No Ball Games critiques the rules that Banksy believes restrict society on a daily basis. Banksy mocks overprotective governments, or “nanny states”, interfering with personal choice, by implying that even innocent, everyday children’s activities like playing ball outside are controlled by the state.
Banksy has often provocatively positioned himself against authority through his art, and criticising socio-political aspects of today's society has always been the core of his artistic identity. He frequently places his characters within ironic or humorous situations, often featuring children to poignantly execute his social commentaries. This is also seen in his work Jack and Jill, a criticism on the limits of law enforcement, or in his iconic Girl With Balloon, which addresses the loss of childhood innocence.