I just love walking along empty seasides in bad weather — for some reason they just fill me with so much happiness.
We took a 40 minute drive along the South-East coast to Bognor Regis on a visit to some returned British friends we made in Spain. This is a very run-down, small town filled with Georgian and Victorian decaying old grandeur — which I adore.
Bognor is one of the oldest recorded Anglo-Saxon place names in Sussex. In a document of 680 AD it is referred to as Bucgan ora meaning Bucge’s (a female Anglo-Saxon name) shore, or landing place. Bognor Regis was originally named just “Bognor,” being a fishing (and smuggling) village. In the 18th century it was converted into a resort by Sir Richard Hotham who tried in vein to rename it Hothampton.
King George V bestowed the suffix “Regis” (“of the King”) on Bognor in 1929 when his physicians recommended he convalesce there to recover from lung surgery. The King, when pestered with petitions for the town while undergoing his treatment, was said to have uttered the line: “Oh! Bugger Bognor!” — which has never been forgotten.
In 1959 Butlins (who ran affordable holiday camps for the British working classes) opened their resort here. It declined in the 70s but started to make a bit of a come-back this decade with the “staycation” trend to holiday at home. It was hoped that these would be a way out of Dismaland (see my blogs on Banksy’s Dismaland). Seaside resorts are not popular with young adults; many have no wonderful childhood memories of them like us oldies — and prefer music festivals, or active holidays such mountaineering or trampolining in disused Welsh mines. Butlins have launched vintage weekend raves which seem to be gaining in popularity though. Recent immigrants to Blighty, have opted to live near cheaper seaside towns like this, in the South’s warmer climes. Polish shops have started opening up next to ye olde rock shoppes, so the fashion of the British seaside is once again changing.
Due to popular demand I am publishing some holiday snaps of my visit to Dismaland.
This is a bemusement park in Weston-super-Mare, England. On until 25th of September 2015. Devised by Banksy, Dismaland consists of an art festival, with works by 57 other contemporary artists; famous, infamous and non-famous. I spent such an enjoyable, thought-provoking day here. There was a mixed crowd of friends and families. I would love to go back in the evening, where DJs and bands such as Pussy Riot, Massive Attack and comedians such as Katherine Ryan perform. I took enough photos to fill a gallery; too many to choose from for here. I plan to make a separate blog-site just to write about some of the contemporary artists. So for now, here is just a taster of the park itself. The photos were so bright that I have actually toned down the colour in some of them.
If you do a web search you will see many more, or look on the Dismaland official website: www.dismaland.co.uk for a list of artists.
The pumpkin coach has just crashed, the horse and Cinderella are dead and paparazzi are shooting snaps. A strong reminder of Princess Diana. Recent worries too about Duchess Kate and our heirs to the throne being in danger from sneaky news reporters. But more significantly, this is about the disillusionment of fairy tales, that do not end up happily ever after – one of the main themes throughout the park…
Above left: Close up of models in one of the pond’s migrant boats. Above right: A reworking of a traditional Punch & Judy puppet show written by Julie Burchill, with additional cast Crocodile, PC. PC and Goddess Kali. Ironically this was the only attraction that was not suitable for children – but then neither is the traditional version. It is about violence and abuse of women and children.
Left and below: Part of a series entitled ‘Childhood Gone Wrong’ by USA artist Darren Cullen. Below is a queue for Pocket Money Loans. A comment on high interest loan shark companies that target innocent people. This is really a souvenir shop. Just have a look at the 5000% interest rate.
Banksy may have been getting lessons from taxidermist Polly Morgan here. With depleted fish stocks gulls have been attacking tourists, especially if they have take-out food. Dismaland staff must have had job descriptions to be as miserable and unhelpful as possible. They were actually very funny.
That’s it for now. I shall update this post when I have time to create a new site about Art. It will contain photos of Damien Hirst’s Pickled Unicorn, Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė’s embroidered cars, Jessica Harrison’s Tattooed Porcelain Dolls and Jimmy Cauty’s Aftermath Dislocation Principle model village – to name just a few artists featured at Dismaland.
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.
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).
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.