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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179 Comments
  • i_like_fruit
    i_like_fruitWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 1:29 pm
    This guy/girl is AMAZING at drawing!
    • mesodog
      mesodogWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 9:15 am
      WOW that is so cool! I agree that front line workers are THE REAL HERO'S!!!!
      • taylorsville893
        taylorsville893Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 7:15 am
        I am so sad. Like me if you agree.(stay safe.)
        • awesome2560
          awesome2560Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 4:41 pm
          This is amazing. How does he do this stuff???
          • i_like_fruit
            i_like_fruitTuesday, May 26, 2020 at 7:05 am
            Amazing
            • janan10
              janan10Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 4:24 am
              He is really good at art but why would anyone put a SHREDER there are work but that was nice to the hospital in England
              • leiker1414
                leiker1414Monday, May 25, 2020 at 4:53 pm
                I'm not that good at drawing but I can probably draw those. Idk. Mabye .
                • ohiost8
                  ohiost8Saturday, May 23, 2020 at 4:23 am
                  Coved-19 is EVIL! 😠😠😠
                  • galaxy_fox12
                    galaxy_fox12Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 5:27 pm
                    True because we’re fighting against Covid-19
                  • animereina25
                    animereina25Friday, May 22, 2020 at 5:15 pm
                    For all of you that are wishing everyone else to stay safe and kind stuff like that to us, I want to wish you guys the same. 2020 isn't going well at the start, but we can get back on track once all of this is over with!
                    • galaxyninja
                      galaxyninjaWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 11:31 am
                      Life will defenently Be different like better hyjean and people being more connected with there family but if we just stay at home and wash our hands we can stay safe!
                    • animereina25
                      animereina25Friday, May 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm
                      Lets all hope that this will be over with before we know it! Hopefully by the end of the summer...