New Banksy Film "A Great British Spraycation" Captures the Mood of a Nation Playing at Home
As an American writer in London at the moment, there is an unique atmosphere all around; the lack of tourists. As I keep trying to plan trips out of the quiet city, I'm running into the same issue everyday: the staycation and domestic tourism of UK residents in their own country. As a biproduct of COVID, as a result of the country opening itself to, well, itself really, more and more rural cities and coastal getaways are packed with Brits who once spent their August travels in Europe or the US. The country is now looking inward.
There have been news reports for the past week of what appeared to be new works by Banksy showing up in Gorleston and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and Lowestoft in Suffolk. The theme of the works resonate with the "vacation to your backyard," cheeky reminders of enjoying one's self in the mundane and what appears to be slightly unkempt parts of the country. There is a child playing in the concrete slabs, an older couple dancing on the bus shelter, arcade games, a rat lounging in the sun... all hallmarks of the artist, and yet after not being confirmed for a week, have now been validated with a short film entitled "A Great British Spraycation."
What is poignant is this idea of what the British are experiencing in this new climate of Brexit and not being able to freely travel. What are the memories of a nation that is now only traveling within itself, what are the conditions for which a country that cannot see other places now sees in itself, especially after a particulary controversial era of voting for it's own form of independence and "self-assured" identity. After a bit of an awakening after 18 months of near or total lockdown, and the irony of country very nearly playing a game against itself, there's always a sly bit of humor and political weight to the artist's works that is welcome as a more authentic and micro portrayal of the times we live in. —Evan Pricco