Very Little Helps Banksy
The screenprint Very Little Helps by Banksy, also referred to as “Tesco Flag”, Very Little Helps Tesco” and “Tesco Kids”, first began as a street art piece in 2008. The urban piece was stencilled on the side of a pharmacy on Essex Road in North London. The mural quickly became famous and many attempts were made to protect it under Perspex but unfortunately, the mural was vandalised on several occasion. Today it is partially damaged and the flag has been painted over and replaced with a tag from graffiti artist King Robbo. Later in 2008, Banksy released a series of 299 signed Very Little Helps prints. In 2010 a canvas version of Very Little Helps was sold at Sotheby’s for £82,850.
The screenprint Very Little Helps by Banksy is set on a sky-blue background. It depicts a group of three children surrounding a flagpole. Instead of raising a flag, one of them is raising a Tesco brand plastic bag while the other two are pledging their allegiance with their hands on their hearts. The three children are made in Banksy’s well-known black and white stencil whereas the plastic bag is the only touch of colour. The title of the composition “Very Little Helps” is a pun on Tesco’s advertising slogan “Every Little Helps”.
UK low-cost supermarket chain Tesco is one of the largest retailers in the world which provides families with affordable groceries. However, it has become a controversial corporation thought to be responsible for the decimation of small independent shops and environmental damage with their overconsumption of plastic bags for instance. Through the example of the chain Tesco, Banksy’s Very Little Helps attacks mass consumerism and bears a witty and political message on capitalism. This theme is extremely in Banksy’s artwork. The children’s posture in the image makes us think of a blind obedience to consumerism or even a brainwash. The artist suggests kids, that is to say, the new generation, are raised in a world where capitalism and mass consumerism are inevitable. The choice of a sky-blue background reinforces Banksy’s satire as this colour generally evokes calm, serenity and the innocence of childhood.