In our final instalment of the A-Z of Banksy, we see one of the very few sculptures by the anonymous street artist, which later went on to become a mural in Gaza, as well as his homage to Weston Super Mare (the place in which Dismaland made an appearance in summer 2015) and even more iconic pieces recognised the world over.
This artwork is mocking mankind’s current lack of ability to hunt and provide for ourselves – while there are still humans out there who have these skills, yet us in the ‘civilized world’ are unwilling, and unable, to provide for ourselves.
The Banksy print Trolleys (or Trolley Hunters) was originally released as part of the LA edition accompanying Banksy’s Barely Legal show in 2006. This first incarnation of Trolleys was unsigned, and numbered out of 500. There are a limited number of signed prints from the LA Edition in circulation (low edition numbers and proofs), but these didn’t go on general sale.
The LA edition of Trolleys differs slightly to the later UK release – most noteworthy difference being that the paper it was printed on was a cream colour, and a hunter has a different tool. In late 2007, Trolleys saw a UK in three different formats – an edition of 750 signed colour prints, 500 unsigned white prints and 150 signed white prints. The last edition of Trolleys (and the rarest) came at the Street Artist’s Santa’s Ghetto show in Bethlehem in December 2007. Only available to those who visited the temporary exhibition, this was a signed edition of 28 prints printed on end paper.
Very Little Helps
First spray stenciled on a wall in 2008 Very Little Helps has become one of the street artists most famous murals. Located in Essex Road, North London. Stenciled on the sidewall of a pharmacy, it has been covered in Perspex, but has still been ‘vandalized’ several times.
This original, limited edition screeprint features three monochromatic, photo-realistic children, two with their hands on their hearts admiring the flag that the third child is raising – the flag is a Tesco carrier-bag. This lends a clue to the artworks title, Very Little Helps, which is a play on the Tesco tagline ‘Every Little Helps’. The print Very Little Helps was released in 2008 as an edition of 299, all of which were signed. The release was a lottery system, with visitors being offered the chance to buy tickets (in aid of Sightsavers International) for a chance to buy the print.
This artwork was created by the English artist Banksy. Toxic Mary appeared in London In 2003, as a black and white graffitied image of the Virgin Mary cradling a baby, but feeding it a yellow coloured bottle marked with the skull of ‘poison’. The painting is dripping, suggesting that both the Virgin Mary and the infant are slowly disappearing. The background is a block grey, save for a thin outline of Mary’s halo.
This artwork could be suggesting two things: potentially, it is just reinforcing that what is toxic to us, we pass down to our children, and is in turn toxic to them. Contrarily, it is upspring the ‘mother goddess’ ideal women have been subjected to since the beatification of Mary after Jesus’ birth; demonstrating that not all mothers are ideal
Toxic Mary was part of the 2003 Turf War exhibition.
Watch Tower is one of very few sculptures by Banksy, and was released in various editions of hand-carved olive wood, olive wood and US dollar bills, and a rare collaboration with Kelsey Brookes from 2007 depicting a grey and graffitied watch tower.
These sculptures depict an army watch tower similar to those used in Israel, and were originally editioned sculptural pieces made in Bethlehem for Banksy’s exhibition, Santa’s Ghetto.
The Watch Tower is an idea Banksy revisited when he created a mural of children using an Israeli military watch tower as a swing ride, became visible on a wall at the main road in the northern Gaza Strip, in 2015.
Welcome to Hell (Placard Rat)
Welcome To Hell depicts on of Banksy’s now infamous rat characters, wearing a large chain necklace with a ‘peace’ symbol, leaning in towards the viewer, casually propping up a placard with its arm that reads, ‘Welcome To Hell!’ This incarnation of Banksy’s rat first appeared on the streets of Clerkenwell in London, in 2004.
This witty monochromatic artwork is in the typical spray-stencil style of the British Street Artist; and plays on our association with rats and the underworld, or life’s underbelly. The irony being: this hell comes in peace, and means you no harm.
The Welcome To Hell prints came as part of a trilogy with two other Placard Rats: Get Out While You Can and Because I’m Worthless. There were a total 250 prints released – 175 unsigned and 75 signed (with a mixture of pink and red lettering).
Weston Super Mare
This three-colour limited edition screenprint depicts an elderly person seated on a park bench, their hands folded across their lap, and their cane rested on the bench. The subject looks to be enjoying the solitude, completely oblivious to the gigantic round-saw that is tearing up the earth as it races towards them. The original painting on canvas, exhibited in Bristol in 2000, featured a block blue sky, and the elderly subject sporting a green jacket.
This artwork appears to be suggesting that, even the very comfortable among us in your average British town, still have the terrifying prospect of death rushing towards us at every moment. This painting serves as a healthy reminder of that fact.
Weston Super Mare was released in 2003 in an edition of 750 prints in total, 150 of these were signed by Banksy.
This original artwork is largely monochromatic and rendered in his graffiti-inspired spray-stencil style.
Wrong War depicts the ghoulish figure of the grim reaper, complete with hood, skeletal hands, and scythe; but juxtaposed with a yellow smiley face. At the foot of the figure, in block red writing, text reads ‘WRONG WAR’.
On the surface, the reaper’s smiley face is amusing; but if one medidtates on the image for longer – and its text – it becomes reminiscent of the idea of the ‘Judas Kiss’, and how the deaths of tens of thousands were allowed by disguising is often described something else a lot more friendly, or at least in the aid of democracy.
This limited edition inkjet print was released in 2004 shortly after Britain’s widely condemned decision to go in to Iraq. It is from an edition of 100.