The latest work by famed street artist Banksy has been unveiled at University Hospital Southampton in England. Banksy is known for his social commentary and much of his artwork has been sold for eye wateringly high sums that would rival the jackpot paid out by a popular slot machine online. His new painting was shown off to the public for the first time on Wednesday 8 May and will remain in place at the hospital until after the lockdown officially ends.
The artwork is officially entitled Painting for Saints but was captioned Game Changer on Banksy’s Instagram account. It pays tribute to the National Health Service and all of the healthcare workers in the UK and abroad currently on the frontline during the global health crisis. The piece is said to have captured the spirit of gratitude that the United Kingdom feels towards their nurses, doctors and other professionals working tirelessly to save lives.
The World Has A New Superhero
In 2020, the world seems to be saturated with superheroes thanks to the Marvel Avengers movies and the DC Comics response in Justice League. There’s also X-Men, Suicide Squad and a whole parade of characters who can save the world with the special powers. However, in the real world, the ones who are going save the world from sickness are our healthcare workers, and these are the people Banksy is celebrating with this new piece.
Game Changer depicts a young boy kneeling next to a basket with toys in it. You can clearly see fan favourites Spiderman and Batman on top, along with some other indistinct figurine. The young boy has left those superheroes behind and has chosen to play with a nurse wearing a mask over her mouth and nose, and a cape streaming out behind her as the boy makes her fly through the air.
Art With Social Commentary
Game Changer may be the main piece of work that Banksy has done in response to the current global situation, but this is not the first time he has commented on it through his art. On Instagram, the artist posted images of his trademark stencilled rats all over his bathroom at home. The caption read “My wife hates it when I work from home.” Banksy was clearly commenting on the lockdown situation and how many people are looking for ways to make remote working a reality instead of gathering in offices.
A 2014 work from the artist, Girl with a Pierced Eardrum, also has been given a makeover. The artwork that lives on a wall in Hanover Place in Bristol had a surgical face mask painted over it. Banksy has not commented on this change to his parody of the Girl with the Pearl Earring that he painted in his hometown six years ago. It is unclear if this was a sanctioned update or if the work was essentially vandalised.
Auctioning Off Game Changer
The chief executive of the hospital where Game Changer is housed, Paula Head, commented on the unveiling, saying that they are proud to be the home of this piece of work. In a Twitter statement, Head said that this image is inspirational and will hopefully give people a moment to reflect on what is happening.
The content of the artwork certainly says thank you to the healthcare workers of the UK and the world. It also shows how the global population feels about the important work they are doing to keep people safe and alive.
In addition to saying thank you through the content of this piece, Banksy is giving back to the National Health Service and those who work for it by donating this artwork. Once the lockdown has ended, Game Changer will leave its home at the University Hospital Southampton and get auctioned off. The proceeds from the auction will all go to the various NHS charities to help in the fight against disease.
The hope is that Game Changer will fetch over 5 million Pounds, the amount it has been officially valued at by MyArtBroker dot com. Some say that it may even overtake the record set by his work Devolved Parliament, which earned 9.9 million Pounds in auction in 2019. The new work is certainly right on the money in terms of topic and sentiment, and could bring in a high price given the timing of the auction.