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Banksy’s hula hooping girl with a message of hope

The nation’s favourite incognito vandal is back to his artistry this week. Recently spotted on a brick wall in Nottingham’s Lenton area, Banksy’s new graffiti depicts a girl using a tyre as a makeshift hula-hoop, with the remainder of the physical bicycle’s dismantled steel frame (sans aforementioned back wheel) locked against a pole to the child’s left.

The notorious spray-painter confirmed his responsibility shortly after its appearance via Instagram, following which fans and residents flocked to the site, children posing with their own hula-hoops in motion, their proud parents on-looking from the wings in the photographs’ peripheries.

The meaning behind the latest addition to Nottingham’s street art has not been clarified by the enigmatic artist himself. The stencilled girl’s carefree appropriation of the abandoned bike’s tyre conveys an anti-capitalist joie-de-vivre, the criminality of the tyre’s theft juxtaposed with the ebullient innocence of the child’s play interpretable as a nod to the Banksy attitude in general.

His work is technically illegal, but widely accepted to be positive and good nonetheless, loved by even those who generally hate graffiti. Both the artist and his creation turn something forgotten into something beautiful: the girl makes a rusting, forlorn structure into a source of entertainment as Banksy turns a dusting brick wall into a piece of art.

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The inanimate, despondent physical contrasts with the spirited imagined, the former illuminating the latter by virtue of their juxtaposition. The artist’s trademark sense of intangible life and hope is alive and well, right when we need it most.

And oh, do we need it. The mural affords our minds respite from the constant bombardment of pandemic updates that have become the norm these past months, reminding us of the childlike abandon we felt prior to the onset of adult reservation.

There’s talk that Banksy chose to honour Nottingham with his most recent piece because, until recently, the city had recorded the UK’s highest number of new Covid-19 cases. After taking her son Klaye to see the work, 39-year-old Nottingham local Nicola Marshall states for the BBC that, ‘it’s a bit of positivity with all this coronavirus going on.

This piece follows Banksy’s earlier pandemic work on the London Underground. Spray-painted rats briefly occupied the Tube in July, one parachuting with an open, wind-filled mask and another coughing emphatically, effusions sprayed across a carriage window. The artwork, entitled ‘If You Don’t Mask, You Don’t Get’, is memorialised by a video on Banksy’s Instagram following its hasty removal by TfL and their nonsensical no-nonsense policy.

At the end of the short clip, the words ‘I get lockdown’ are discernible on a station wall before the carriage doors close and a response sprayed across them internally reads ‘but I get up again’, invoking the 1997 song by Chumbawamba, a jovial denial of vanquishment.

The hula-hooping girl, for me, is reminiscent of this revolt against succumbing to the pandemic: as the virus rages, the girl twirls on, a message of hoop and hope to those feeling battered and bruised.
Yes, Banksy knows a lot about hope. His spray must be filled with the stuff, the droplets that don’t make contact with the wall permeating throughout communities, painting them together.

This piece follows Banksy’s earlier pandemic work on the London Underground. Spray-painted rats briefly occupied the Tube in July, one parachuting with an open, wind-filled mask and another coughing emphatically, effusions sprayed across a carriage window. The artwork, entitled ‘If You Don’t Mask, You Don’t Get’, is memorialised by a video on Banksy’s Instagram following its hasty removal by TfL and their nonsensical no-nonsense policy.

At the end of the short clip, the words ‘I get lockdown’ are discernible on a station wall before the carriage doors close and a response sprayed across them internally reads ‘but I get up again’, invoking the 1997 song by Chumbawamba, a jovial denial of vanquishment.

The hula-hooping girl, for me, is reminiscent of this revolt against succumbing to the pandemic: as the virus rages, the girl twirls on, a message of hoop and hope to those feeling battered and bruised.

Yes, Banksy knows a lot about hope. His spray must be filled with the stuff, the droplets that don’t make contact with the wall permeating throughout communities, painting them together.

Illustration Credit: Sara Dobbs