Dismaland – Reply to Banksy & Co

Sunbathing on the beach
Sunbathing on the beach
Bookshop/cafe closure notice
Bookshop/cafe closure notice

Much as I love Southampton, which has some wonderful positive things to offer cruise ship tourists (which I shall get around to writing about more – I am usually a positive person) these are some snaps from my home city in support of Banksy’s Dismaland.

All photos © Southampton old lady

If you have not heard of Dismaland then please do an image search online. This is a ‘bemusement’ park that has been opened up in South-West England, for six weeks, by a group of 59 British artists including: Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, and Espo… headed by Banksy. Actors (as disgruntled security guards and staff) and writers have also been employed (Julie Birchill re-wrote a macabre Punch & Judy script).

Homeless youth under The Bargate of Southampton's Medieval wall.
Homeless youth under The Bargate of Southampton’s Medieval wall.

The Tropicana swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, a one-time holiday-haven, has been turned into an anarchistic statement about Western capitalism – A Disneyland gone wrong.

Banksy hails from near-by Bristol. He possibly recalls as a child, summer days on the sands and pier at Weston-Super-Mare, which have deteriorated now. The type of British family that used to spend their holiday here, no longer have money for resorts. Pictures like this can be found at tourist areas throughout Europe. In London, visitors are sad not to meet people like characters from Downton Abbey.

But don’t book £3 tickets on the Dismaland website, or you will just be trolled. The project highlights the down-side of Britain emulating USA-style boom and bust financial strategies. Our boom from the 1990s sub-prime-type/hedge-funding and such, burst its bubble in 2008. Although the Government has announced that the Country is now “doing well” – giving themselves generous pay-rises; people argue that these strategies have little way of ‘trickling down’ any benefit to the common people. There is also a sense of childhood loss, a feeling of being cheated by the false promises of a fairytale with a happy ending.

Health lottery advertisement shines bright in bad weather outside Waitrose (a middle class supermarket)
Health lottery advertisement shines bright in bad weather outside Waitrose (an up-market supermarket)
The Royal Pier, which burnt down in the 1970s.
The Royal Pier in Southampton has not been repaired since it burnt down in the 1970s.
Closer view of the pier.
Closer view of the pier.
Prickly Justice
Prickly Justice
Northam Bridge Graffiti
Northam Bridge Graffiti
River Itchen cycle path - west side
River Itchen cycle path – west side
Please return your shopping trolley
Please return your shopping trolley
Riverside apartments (or they could be)
Riverside apartments (or it could be)
Site of television studios - build here please.
Brown site that used to be television studios – build homes here please.
Itchen River from Roman East site
Itchen River from Roman East-side
Council allowed 'graffiti' to encourage cycling complete with chewing gum spots.
Council allowed ‘graffiti’ to encourage cycling. Complete with chewing gum spots.
The sky line
The sky line
Memorial bench at victoria Country Park looking out on Southampton Water
Memorial bench at Royal Victoria Country Park looking out on Southampton Water
Sunbathing II at the waterfront
Sunbathing II at the waterfront
Park restrictions: Do not pass go... Different signs for English and Polish speakers.
Park restrictions: Different signs for different languages
A traditional pub closes every day.
A traditional pub closes every day.
Shirley Park Hotel - closed
Shirley Park Hotel – closed
Tanning salon at what was once the Regent Cinema
Tanning salon at what was once the Regent Cinema
Beauty Parlours in the hope of a change to feel better.
Beauty Parlours offer hope of a change to feel better. Not something I could afford or want.
Jonas Nichols Square (he gave his name to Nicholstown) in the morning.
Jonas Nichols Square (he gave his name to Nicholstown) in the morning.
Where I used to buy vegetables when Kingsland Market was closed.
Where I used to buy vegetables when Kingsland Market was closed.
off-licence in residential area
Late off-licence in residential area
Fly-tipped computer desk in green area
Fly-tipped computer desk in green area
Keep out of here. (Ministry of Defence).
Keep out of here. (Ministry of Defence).
Loose paving slabs all over the City centre - watch your step.
Loose paving slabs all over the City centre – watch your step.
Unfortunate name but yes. Isis 'gentlemans' club - in Southampton's High Street (Above Bar).
Unfortunate name but yes. Isis ‘Gentleman’s’ club – in Southampton’s High Street (Above Bar).
For Your Eyes Only - mens lap dance club on the QE2 Mile
For Your Eyes Only – another club for men (table-dancing) on the QE2 Mile
English Heritage Listed II street with Police car.
Grade II Listed street with house cordoned off for drugs bust.
Empty commerce
Empty commerce
The Cricket Pavilion
The cricket pavilion in a park where cricket is not allowed
A reminder of the Banksy murial that was removed in Southampton
A reminder of the Banksy mural’ that was removed in Southampton

You may also want to look at this YouTube video of buskers Phat Bollard performing ‘Millionaires’ in Southampton High Street (contains swearing): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhQBAu0Yypk

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/phatbollard. Downloads can be found at Bandcamp: http://phatbollard.bandcamp.com.

 

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Dismaland – Reply to Banksy & Co

  1. The question is whether there has been an overall positive or negative change? Soton was never in my mind a city devoid of its run down spots. Some areas have gotten a lot better in the last 20 years, while others have gotten worse. The hardest part was always the way in which the rivers were either ignored or given prime access to the sailing toffs. The area around the pier could be such an asset. However, if it was completely gentrified, would it still be Southampton?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that Leboffin. Your hamwic site is not accessible to see your blog – do you need to update it? In answer – lets see. Some costly mistakes were made. New tourist attractions, which no tourists go to (museums). Once locals have seen them – there is nothing to bring us back again. Bad cracks in city centre paving only laid 5 years ago, mean paying out for accidental broken limbs and court cases. These costly type of mistakes, where the Council do not employ experts first, leak so much cash now that there is not enough to start a lovely scheme to improve places like The Pier or employ a river patrol. Big improvements have been made for student housing (which is good), but none for the ordinary family. People sleeping rough now includes couples, the elderly men and even some youngsters still at school. Rogue landlords prefer immigrants that do not know (or have lack of) rights – so they can evict them easily if the rent is not paid. It is all a sign of austerity and naive decisions made to tackle it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There do need to be some changes. Businesses are leaving Southampton – the one I work for left last week. We no longer go shopping there in our lunch break or after work or use taxis or buses. There are only a hundred and fifty of us, but we’re supporting local businesses somewhere else now.

    The building where we used to work has less than 25% occupancy. Five years ago it was full.

    The business left because the surroundings were unpleasant for visiting customers and it proved impossible to find a building in Southampton with the necessary parking provision.

    As for tourist attractions, I can’t imagine anyone thinks of Southampton as a tourist destination. A place for a wet day out if you’re on holiday in the Forest, perhaps, but not a destination in itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for telling me of your experience April. Another business leaving! And “due to unpleasant surroundings”? This is a disaster!
      I don’t think Southampton ever advertises itself as a tourist destination, however there are more people living in Southampton (and working at the Council) that were not born here than those that were (I’m including recently-immigrated and students). I am surprised that they don’t want to know more about the City that they have made their home (albeit temporary) by visiting the museums. There has been a huge increase in the numbers staying in hotels (for one or two nights) before going on a cruise. The Docks are booming but coach-loads are brought from the EU via Dover to work at the Docks and on ships rather than local people as it works out cheaper. I definitely think the Town Quay area should have Government money spent on it — it is often the first view of the UK that many foreigners have. And the QE2 Mile idea is just a joke now. When I see tourists wandering about on it, I direct them to the parks or around Southampton’s old walls and to the Tudor House Museum or at least to one of the local pubs. I can remember standing by the Bargate during a refuse strike and an American woman on the phone home. She was saying out loud what a rubbish heap England was — this was so upsetting. When you see your country through those eyes it really does make you feel you are living in Dismaland.
      I have decided that one of my next tasks is to point out my 10 best things for visitors in Southampton.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The open question is ‘What is Southampton’s Future?’. It has a lot going for it, but at the same time the council wants to do a bit of everything and not answer the question. Southampton is NOT a mini-London. Jobs are critical, but not just office jobs. It needs to figure out how to provide good employment for 95% of the populous. Right now it seems to be doing a poor job of competing with London and Basingstoke. Instead, what is the uniqueness about Southampton which if leveraged would make it unbeatable? Yes, it needs more low cost housing. However, it also needs to provide opportunities for those people who will live there. At the end of the day the council seems to be more focused on reducing its £649m budget rather than growing it to £1000m without increasing the burden on the average person. I left 25 years ago because of the lack of future, and 25 years later things are about the same. Oh, and check out yardinage.wordpress.com for more about my psychosis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah! but there’s been a boom and bust since then Leboffin – So you grew up here? The Hamwic must have been a clue.
      It would be interesting to know what others who know Southampton (or indeed Banksy) think.

      Like

  4. I photographed the same graffiti under the bridge. Used to walk along there every day when I was working nearby. The ship on the shore line by Horseshoe Bridge was lived in by a couple of young hippies back in the early 2000’s so I always call it the hippy ship. I worked in offices overlooking it. They had a dog who used to swim out to the boat while they were rowing to it on a little tender. Our boss used to take them food parcels. I often wonder what became of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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