As the nation reaches well over a month since ‘lockdown’ began, an interesting but gradual process has emerged. It appears as though the idea of ‘self-isolation’ has taken on a wildly different meaning for each individual. On a basic level, baking blueberry muffins for a third night in a row is no longer considered a ‘cry for help’. More enduring than this perhaps, is the effect it seems to have had upon artists.
With limited physical access to the outside world, and the endless stream of television feeling as though it’s beginning to run a little dry, there has also been a considerable push for introspection and self-improvement.
The post shows painted rats wreaking havoc in the artist’s own bathroom
Even Banksy, one of Britain’s most famous street-artists, has shown an impressive amount of flexibility given the circumstances. On 15th April a new piece was unveiled through his Instagram. Captioned “My wife hates it when I work from home.” The post shows painted rats wreaking havoc in the artist’s own bathroom; running on the toilet roll, hanging from the mirrors and inaccurately marking tallies upon the wall – presumably and rather dramatically – equating the lockdown to the constraint of a prison.
The piece does not carry as direct of a message as some of his past work. For instance, 2015’s ‘The Son of a Migrant from Syria’ (painted in Calais, France by the migrant camps) depicts Apple CEO Steve Jobs, also the son of a Syrian migrant, in a call for compassion for those tangled in the refugee crisis. More recently, the auction-house shredding of the painting ‘Balloon Girl’ in 2018 serves as a rather humorous poke at the art establishment. Nothing undermines materialism better than a shredder.
Yet Banksy’s piece doesn’t need to be so specific in its artistic or political message to have value
Yet Banksy’s piece doesn’t need to be so specific in its artistic or political message to have value. The painting of his trade-mark rats in such an explicitly domestic and intimate setting does enough to articulate the essence of this historical period. The implications of specific government policy has now, more than ever in recent history, directly impacted the daily routine of the nation. That these previously political characters are now quite literally hanging around the house shows some parallel to this.
Last modified: 8th May 2020