Street Artist Banksy's "Game Changer" Pays Tribute To COVID-19 Frontline Workers

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Banksy's "Sight Seeing Rats," sketched on the side of a bridge over the Seine River in Paris, celebrates the city's leisurely walkers (Credit: Banksy)

British street artist Banksy is well-known for his controversial and often politically-themed artwork. However, his latest creation can only be described as heartwarming. The mostly black-and-white stenciled sketch, dubbed "Game Changer," features a young boy playing with a British National Health Services (NHS) nurse superhero toy. In the background, Batman and Spiderman action figures lie in a waste bin, indicating that the boy's new superheroes are the "game changers" of today — the millions of COVID-19 medical workers worldwide who are risking their lives daily to keep the rest of us safe.

"I've got a little toddler at home and seeing the little kid playing with the action figures there and with the Batman, Spiderman, and then the nurse flying over - it was just amazing," said Matsikachando Moyo, a nurse at Southampton General Hospital. "It's a beautiful portrait of the NHS staff as heroes, it's lovely, it's amazing."

Unveiled by Southampton General Hospital officials on May 7, 2020, the approximately 10-square- foot (one-square-meter) artwork came with a note from the artist. It read, "Thanks for all you're doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it's only black and white."

Banksy's Game Changer celebrates Britain's brave NHS health workers, who are at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic (Credit: Banksy)

It is unclear why Banksy picked the Southern England hospital or how he delivered the framed masterpiece without getting detected. However, the hospital is thrilled by the unexpected tribute. Paula Head, chief executive of Southampton General's NHS Foundation Trust, said it was "a huge honor" that Banksy had "chosen us to recognize the outstanding contribution."

The officials, who are currently displaying the artwork in the entryway close to the hospital's emergency department, plan to put it up for auction in the fall and donate the proceeds to benefit all NHS workers.

Despite being a household name, especially in England, Banksy's identity is known only to his family and close circle of friends. The elusive artist rose to fame in 1993, when his graffiti art began appearing on trains and walls in Bristol, England. By 2001, the artist's classic blocky spray-painted signature became a familiar sight all across the United Kingdom and then, soon after, worldwide — from Vienna to Paris to San Francisco.

Though Banksy has since moved on to more traditional art forms, such as painting on canvas and conceptual sculpture, the artist refrains from selling his masterpieces at high prices unless the proceeds are for a charitable cause. In October 2018, he demonstrated his contempt for exorbitant art prices by remotely activating the shredder built into the back of his world-famous "Girl with Balloon, painting, shortly after it had sold for a record $1.4 million at a Sotheby's auction.

"Girl with Balloon" is one of Banksy's most recognized paintings (Credit: Banksy)

However, the artist's attempt to destroy the painting, which he renamed "Love is in the Bin," did not dissuade the bidder from purchasing it. According to the auction house, while the anonymous female European collector was initially shocked at seeing her newly-acquired painting being shredded, she later decided that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to "own a piece of art history."

Resources: Theguardian.com, Wikipedia.org, NPR.org

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214 Comments
  • wolfieland
    wolfielandTuesday, July 14, 2020 at 10:19 am
    cool bruh
    • iamgood
      iamgoodMonday, July 13, 2020 at 5:09 pm
      This is such a heartwarming piece of art. Thanks Banksy
      • awesome070119
        awesome070119Monday, July 13, 2020 at 3:16 pm
        Awesome
        • aluminium
          aluminiumThursday, July 9, 2020 at 7:47 am
          I hate Banksy because I find that his art is not a real art ... Sometimes he does things well. But OK.
          • goodvibesonly09
            goodvibesonly09Friday, July 3, 2020 at 8:21 am
            This is a very heartwarming piece of art and story thank you Banksy! And to all others out there who are helping with covid! 💗☺
            • goodvibesonly09
              goodvibesonly09Friday, July 3, 2020 at 8:20 am
              OMG hi animereina and beachvibes I really like all the comments you post and I followed you both! 💗
              • animereina2020
                animereina2020Monday, July 6, 2020 at 8:58 pm
                @goodvibesonly09, I followed you back! Thank you! I also like the comments you post, and also @beachvibes too!
              • tiktok_fan3
                tiktok_fan3Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 12:07 pm
                Thank you to everyone who is out there working for what you do!! You are my superhero!!!!!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!
                • beachvibes2020
                  beachvibes2020Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm
                  My grandma used to be an ER Nurse. Whenever one of my family members gets hurt, we go to her house.😂🙂
                  • iamgood
                    iamgoodMonday, July 13, 2020 at 5:10 pm
                    funny
                    • lolatheute
                      lolatheuteThursday, July 2, 2020 at 12:47 pm
                      Thats awesome! Lol!!
                      • animereina2020
                        animereina2020Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 2:36 pm
                        That's so cool! Now when one if you get hurt, you don't have to worry about going to the doctor anymore!😂👍
                      • truffles
                        trufflesMonday, June 29, 2020 at 1:39 pm
                        😷😷thankyou to all the workers on the frontline of covid 19
                        • hayleejv
                          hayleejvMonday, June 29, 2020 at 7:04 am
                          The video makes me feel good