In the midst of a pandemic, British street artist Banksy has made a return, encouraging people to wear face masks.
Last week, Banksy posted a video on his Instagram and YouTube sharing his latest work in London Underground.
Captioned “If you don’t mask – you don’t get” the video appeared to show a man disguised as a maintenance worker ordering passengers away. His work features a number of spray painting images of rats in pandemic-inspired attitudes. At the end of the video, “I get lockdown” appears before train doors close, revealing “but I get up again”.
The rats were depicted sneezing, using face masks as parachutes and holding a bottle of hand sanitiser.
Before Banksy had revealed the video on social media, the piece was already removed by Transport for London cleaning crews. A representative said:
“It was treated like any other graffiti on the network.”
London public transport users must wear a face mask, and Transport for London said it “appreciated the sentiment of encouraging people”. In a statement, they added:
“We’d like to offer Banksy the chance to do a new version of his message for our customers in a suitable location.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Banksy, originating from Bristol, has created a piece since the pandemic. His first lockdown artwork revolved around a series of rats causing chaos in his bathroom.
In May, the well-known street artist produced an intimate piece at Southampton General Hospital, paying tribute to the NHS, the National Health Service in England. Dubbed the Game Changer, the black and white piece shows a boy playing with a nurse toy, next to child favourites Batman and Spiderman – who were discarded in a bin. The nurse is depicted with a cape, in a superhero stance, wearing a white apron with a red cross.
Leaving a note for hospital workers, Banksy said:
“Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”
In the meantime, the work will remain in the foyer near the emergency department, which will then go on auction to raise money for the NHS.
Ultimately, given the anonymity of Banksy, every art debut is unexpected, but meaningful to some extent. To check out more of his works, follow him on his official Instagram.
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