Updated: Apr 23
It’s been on the news, it’s been on people’s lips and now it’s on my blog. Dismaland is something not gone unnoticed by journalists, art critics, citizens of Weston-Super-Mare – where the exhibit is situated – and of course, the general public who have gathered in their thousands to enter the depressing world Banksy subtly created. Banksy’s designing and six month building process somehow stayed as secret as his identity which made the reveal of the theme park all the more exciting, causing the £3 – £5 tickets to constantly sell out after just minutes of being released.
One of the reasons I am writing this post is because I stumbled across a review done by The Guardian, in which the writer was appeared harsh, over critical and misinterpreted Banksy’s art and saw it in a different light to the one it was meant to be seen in. I feel that Dismaland should be viewed in a light hearted manner. Somewhat ironic as the underlying humour in the art and exhibits is incredibly dark and dry. The Guardian journalist seemed to disagree, this is what I made of it.
As you enter the abandoned lido you are interrogated by several pissed off looking security guards who make the most outrageous demands of you “stand on one leg”, “oi you pick up that leaflet off the floor” and “stop smiling” which gets you chuckling before you’ve even entered the park.
As you walk in you find yourself stood in the doorway lost for words for what you see before you. After you’ve dusted off your jaw, you begin to make your way through the park roughly in a circle shuffling around the derelict princess castle in which people are funnelling in and out of. The galleries were, to me, the highlight of the experience. 3 large buildings filled with humorous, eerie and just downright strange paintings, sculptures and exhibits. Amongst which was a tattooed turning foetus, personified death on bumper cars and countless fairy tale or Disney themed pieces with dark twists.
I feel it is acceptable to spoil certain areas as the park is now closed. The much talked about Princess castle did not disappoint, leading you round and having a compulsory picture which at the time you didn’t think anything off before following the trail of shuffling people into a dark room which showed Cinderella’s upturned carriage and the princess herself draped out of the window whilst paparazzi cameras relentlessly flash. This was a tragedy in the children’s eyes but due to their youth they didn’t quite understand the representation of the death of Princess Diana.
The main thing I loved about Dismaland was that there was always something else to look at, the attention to detail meant there were hundreds of tiny smaller pieces such as cynical graffiti dotted about the park or even extra statues tucked into the corners of the derelict lido. I feel like I missed out on so much, one trip wasn’t enough to cram everything in, my mum went back again the next week and saw so much more.
The park, despite having many attention grabbing pieces inside it, is better judged as a whole. The whole concept in itself is a work of art, which Banksy uses to convey dark yet necessary messages in a way that allows him to engage with his audience heavily contrasting with his use of anonymity.