A visit to Banksy’s Dismaland
With thanks to Banksy, Weston-super-Mare is famous for more than just donkeys, T4 on the beach, and the Grand Pier burning down. From growing up in the seaside town and witnessing the dismal effects Tropicana’s closure has caused since 2000, Dismaland Bemusement Park has got to be one of the best things to come to Weston.
Despite getting there at 10.30am, the queue was already large and snaked around the entrance in front of the Tropicana.
The staff had been trained for a few weeks, under the impression they were extras in a film for ‘Grey Fox’ Productions to maintain Banksy’s secrecy. They acted as dismal as they possible could. “You have to be anti-stewards,” they were told. “Dismal. Miserable. Seaside are the key words for your role.”*
After queuing for around 30 minutes, the true dismal experience began. The first exhibition piece you approach is the fake security guards, imitating that of an airport. My smiley self couldn’t help but hold a massive grin on my face, which of course ensured I was ‘picked on’ by the staff. I was sternly told to wipe the smile off my face and after failing to do so got punished to the corner. A ‘policeman’ who questioned my happiness, cornered me, wishing me to have a ‘miserable day’ before instructing me to hop out of the entrance hall to exit.
After that embarrassing encounter I was in Dismaland, which if it weren’t for the sun shining would have felt appropriately depressing. The first thing you see is a castle imitating aspects of the Disney castle, but burnt to a crisp and a breeze away from collapsing. Behind the castle I stumbled upon a killer whale jumping out of a toilet and then later I came across a woman getting viciously attacked by seagulls. All very surreal!
They let approximately 1000 people in at one time, of which 90% of them see the park through the screens of their smart phone. I have never seen so many people snap happy – ironic!
Three hours had passed and we felt dismal enough to finally leave. Without giving away too many spoilers, the exhibition is filled with controversial, thought provoking and at times disturbing pieces – from 50 different artists. Here are a few tasters…
It’s hard not to have seen a lot of the exhibition before you visit as it seems to be plastered all over social media, but I would definitely recommend a visit to Dismaland if the opportunity arises. Just remember to take lots of change, as everything on site is cash only!
*Mark Cardwell. (2015). No smiling please: My day as a Dismaland steward in Banksy’s bemusement park.
(Image credits: www.funnyjunk.com (feature image), www.cnn.com)
Blog written by Charlotte.