Banksy painting to raise millions for UK health service
A painting by UK street artist Banksy is set to raise millions of pounds at auction Tuesday for the UK’s national health service (NHS) staff.
The elusive artist’s painting, titled “Game Changer,” first appeared in Southampton General Hospital on the south coast of England last May during the first wave of the global health crisis.
The black and white painting shows a little boy playing with a nurse doll wearing a mask and a cloak. Spiderman and Batman superhero toys are thrown away in a trash can behind him.
The artist, who first emerged from Bristol’s graffiti scene in south-west England in the 1990s, left a note with the painting thanking hospital staff for their work in fighting the pandemic.
“Thanks for everything you do. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only in black and white,” he wrote.
Christie’s auction house has set a pre-sale estimate of between £ 2.5m (US $ 3.5m, EUR 2.9m) and £ 3.5m for the artwork.
The proceeds from the auction will go to NHS nonprofit organizations and a reproduction of the piece will continue to be held at Southampton General Hospital.
– ‘Shock and Surprise’ –
Christie’s said in a statement the painting was a departure from Banksy’s usual irreverent style and instead “a personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic”.
“As a work of art, however, it will forever remain a symbol of its time: a reminder of the real game changers in the world and the important work they do,” said the international art seller.
The painting could also have a political caption, however, as it was shortly after Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that public antibody tests could be a “game changer” in the pandemic – only to get experts to quickly pour cold water on the idea.
In a video shared by the Southampton Hospitals Charity earlier this month, staff at Southampton General Hospital thanked Banksy for the painting and shared their enthusiasm for the work.
The story goes on
Steph Gurney, a senior nurse in the hospital’s acute medical department, said the painting’s appearance was “a real shock and surprise” and “meant so much that a world-famous artist wants to donate a piece of their work to our hospital”.
Banksy continued to create other works in the pandemic. In July 2020, as a cleaning lady, he sprayed a number of rats and encouraged people to wear face masks while underground in London.
In December he drew a woman sneezing on the side of a house in Bristol.
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