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.
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).
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.
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
Lancaster is an Ideal Tourist location
If you visit Britain, I would recommend a good central base for visiting all its countries is Lancaster in Lancashire. Located in Northern England, not too far from the seaside town of Blackpool, it is about halfway between Glasgow in Scotland and London, just off the M6 motorway. This is a good road route if you wish to see Stratford on Avon, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool (sail from here to Northern Ireland) or North Wales. Lancaster itself is full of friendly people, old fashioned English pubs, and historic attractions which remain unspoilt from any war. For a wonderful arial view visit the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nn9_jZFs7M&feature=youtu.be
Lancaster Castle, also known as John O’Gaunt’s Castle, has its origins as far back as the Roman times. The castle was first used as a prison in the 12th Century and right up until its closure in 2011. Hundreds have been hanged after trials here, including the Pendle witches in 1612. The castle operates regular tours, including a specialised ‘Graffiti tour’. Historians were able to find out much about the town’s ancient history from what was scratched on its walls by prisoners. To find out more of what you can do the castle visit: http://www.lancastercastle.com
Its all gone Pete Tong at Her Majesty’s Prison Lancaster!
The Queen who owns Lancaster Castle, has recently found herself to be an accidental Landlady of a popular nightclub. British DJs, who became world-famous after performing in Ibiza, hire the ‘A Wing’ of the ex-prison as a club.
Raves in unusual places, popular in the 1980s, have undergone a huge revival and spread throughout the world – so has its music, from drum & bass or garage to acid house and hard techno. (The most unusual rave I attended, over 30 years ago, was Mutoid Waste’s first event inside London’s Battersea Power-station. The Mutoid Waste company is one of the main attractions now at the Glastonbury festival for steam-punk, mechanical fairground sculptures).
Southampton’s superstar DJ Rob Da Bank (who organises Bestival), Pete Tong, Mark Knight, High Contrast, Kratoa, Bondax, Dimitri from Paris and James Zabelia are just some of those to perform at A Wing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj1-c9CmzfA
Je Suis Cecil – 2
One of the Lions guarding Southampton’s Bargate. Taken from the legend of Sr Bevis and Josian
Further to my blog about Banksy art being whitewashed in Southampton (see under older posts) whereby I told of the Council’s zero tolerance to graffiti. I wanted to show examples of Southampton Council’s ‘controlled graffiti’ at the cricket pavilion and public toilets in Hoglands Park, which is located nearby a skateboarding area.
The Council must have realised that, by constantly painting this Victorian wooden structure white, they were merely providing a blank canvas for ugly slogans and therefore allowed some of the ‘better artists’ to cover the structures completely.
To show how quickly Southampton City Council respond to graffiti, I have posted my before and after photos of a wall that was spray-painted with “Widzew nigdy nie zginie”, which is Polish for “Widzew (Polish football team) never dies”. This was sprayed on a Friday; the slogan removed by Monday, leaving clean brickwork.
Before – graffiti sprayed on a wall in a local Southampton community:
This idea of a zero tolerance towards graffiti comes from the book, ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell.
In this book the author describes how small actions at a certain time, in a certain place, and with a certain type of person, can create a ‘tipping point’ for anything from an action to a product to turn into a trend. (It’s an excellent book — do read it if you get the chance.) The ‘tipping point’ is that crucial moment when this trend, tips, spills and floods.
Gladwell goes on to show how graffiti and broken windows can have a dramatic effect on the behaviour of the residents in a city. Both can tip a community from being a good area into a crime-ridden no-go area.
In order to prevent this, it is necessary to actively repair broken windows and clean up graffiti straight away, because without showing care for the environment that people live in there will not be enough social impetus to allow the residents to control and discourage antisocial behaviour.
This ‘Tipping Point’ or ‘Broken Windows’ theory was taken up faultlessly in New York. The Council first tackled cleaning up graffiti on subways and trains after a man had reached his “tipping point” and shot a bully who tried to make him move seats. Next came the vigilant repair of all broken windows in the City. The crime rate dropped significantly, so the Council kept the rule even for celebrated artists Basquiat and Banksy.
This has now been adopted by cities all over the world.
Photos © Southampton Old Lady
The famous graffiti artist, Banksy, is believed to have added a mural of a child holding a balloon to the slogan, ‘No Future’ on a wall in the Bevois Valley area about five years ago. Southampton used to have many good graffiti artists in the late 70s, early 80s in the Punk era. But some of the can-sprayers had some bad handwriting. “No Future” was a common slogan then. Though the Council’s zero tolerance towards graffiti (except that commissioned in the skateboard area of Hoglands Park) means that any illegal spraying or fly-posting is immediately ‘whitewashed’. Alas this piece of art disappeared almost as soon as it appeared.