In a few of days it will be Twelfth Night, and the Christmas decorations will have to come down. But the ones Banksy created will remain as works of art.
The Christmas period was a busy one for Banksy. First we saw his mural God bless Birmingham highlighting homelessness in Birmingham. He then unveiled a nativity scene called the Scar of Bethlehem in his Walled-Off Hotel in Bethlehem.
The nativity scene, or Banksy’s spin on it, has all the familiar characters: Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. But instead of the Star of Bethlehem above them in a clear night sky, there is a bullet hole in a grey wall, on which ‘Love’ and ‘Peace’ are sprayed in life-like graffiti.
The grey wall is the boarder wall that divides Israel and Palestine – the wall the Walled-off Hotel overlooks. When the hotel opened two years ago, Banksy advertised it as having the “worst view in the world”.
Talking to The Guardian about the piece, the Walled-Off hotel’s manager, Wissam Salsaa, said, “It is a nativity. Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas.”
“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way – to make people think more.”
Renowned for using Street Art as a vehicle for political activism, this isn’t Banksy’s first interaction with the wall. In 2005 he made a secret visit to Palestine to paint a girl holding balloons, being lifted above the dividing wall. It is believed to represent the girl’s dream of being lifted to freedom above the Separation Wall.
Ten years later, in 2015, Banksy made a secret visit to the Gaza Strip to create five murals on the bombed-out rubble, including a kitten playing with a ball of rusty wire and the Greek tragic heroine, Niobe, crying over the ruins.
On this new artwork Salsaa said, “Banksy is trying to be a voice for those that cannot speak.” That he is “creating a new model of resistance through art”.
And as we take down the decorations this weekend, Banksy’s contributions to the festive period will remain well in to the New Year, and beyond.