Banksy Dismaland show revealed at Weston's Tropicana

  • 20 August 2015
  • From the section Bristol
Media captionLocals were told a "Hollywood company" was filming in town: Andrew Plant reports

Graffiti artist Banksy has announced an exhibition at a derelict seafront lido in Weston-super-Mare.

The Dismaland show - which will also feature work from Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer and Jimmy Cauty - will take over the Tropicana site for five weeks.

"I loved the Tropicana as a kid, so getting to throw these doors open again is a real honour," Banksy said.

The show is his first in the UK since 2009's Banksy v Bristol Museum show which drew huge crowds.

Banksy described the show as a "family theme park unsuitable for children".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Banksy said the show "offers an escape from mindless escapism"

He said he had been motivated to work on the site which had been "popular with low income holiday makers" after peering through a gap in the fence in January.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Also on display is Mike Ross' Big Rig Jig

Many of the works require "audience participation".

"A dead princess is only complete when surrounded by gawping crowds with their cameras out, or the opportunity to photograph yourself pulling an amazed expression when a killer whale leaps from a toilet," he said.

Image caption The aerial view taken from the Ferris wheel
Image copyright PA
Image caption Prime Minister David Cameron is given the Banksy treatment

"I guess you'd say it's a theme park whose big theme is 'theme parks should have bigger themes'."

Image caption North Somerset Council hopes the show will draw in crowds and boost tourism

Analysis - by David Sillito, arts correspondent

Dismaland is the official name but it's really Banksyland. Subversive, darkly comic and cocking a snook at authority there are good reasons why the mysterious Mr Banksy is so popular.

His stencils are well known but this is something very different - a pitch black antidote to the 'fun day out'.

The Julie Burchill 'Punch and Judy', the riot torn village, the 'magic castle' with a paparazzi and Disney centrepiece and, of course, an exit through the gift shop. Fun for all the family? No. Something Britain's seaside has never seen before? Yes.

Weston is bracing itself for crowds.

Image caption A preview of the exhibition is being held on Thursday
Image caption The show opens to the wider public on Saturday

Speculation had been growing that the elusive Bristolian was planning an exhibition after a castle and sculpture made from tanker trucks were spotted above the walls.

Locals had been told a Hollywood company was filming there.

Nigel Ashton, leader of North Somerset Council, said: "We have been working closely with the organisers for months now and, for obvious reasons, have had to remain tight-lipped about the true nature of the event.

"In fact, only four people in the entire council knew what was really happening."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Banksy said the show was "certainly not street art"
Image caption Visitors can see trademark Banksy juxtapositions such as a killer whale jumping out of a loo

At the Tropicana: Chris Kelly, BBC News

The transformation inside the Tropicana is quite stunning. It's still the run-down lido it has been for the past 15 years, but now there's art everywhere.

From the moment you walk through the fake airport-style security you get the dismal tone of Dismaland. Grumpy guards play the part astonishingly well.

Inside you see Banksy's Cinderella castle and his Grim Reaper dodgem, which dances to the song Staying Alive.

But you also get a heavy dose of other local and international artists. Damien Hirst makes contributions alongside others.

And the organisers are keen to point to the show's art credentials rather than it being just street art alone.

Image copyright DISMALAND
Image caption Dismaland will run at the Tropicana site for six weeks

The Tropicana outdoor pool and leisure facility closed in 2000 due to falling visitor numbers.

Since then, there has been various attempts to either reopen or demolish the structure.

The Trop Trust is trying to reopen the structure and bring it back into use.

Trust member Derek Mead said: "It has definitely put the Trop back in the forefront and I believe Mr Banksy was a swimmer in there in his younger days, so I think there could be an extra agenda here."

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