Thursday, 3 September 2015

Dismaland Review - Banksy's Modern Art Exhibition

It's not often you visit an attraction and hope you are thoroughly disappointed but it's not often you visit Dismaland.


If you haven't heard all the media frenzy over the artist Banksy' new collaboration then you must have lived on Mars for the last month.

Prepared in secret, the pop-up exhibition on the site of an old lido on the seafront in Weston-Super-Mare, opened on the 21st of August for a 5 week run. Locals were told a Hollywood crime thriller was being filmed on the site so were surprised when the true nature of the project was revealed.




We are big fans of modern art in our house, and it's not often you get an exhibition like this within easy driving distance of South Wales, so we decided to see if we could get tickets online and visit this exciting exhibition.


Four thousand tickets are available everyday and we managed to get tickets within 30 minutes of them going on sale, soon after they were sold out for our date. 
Tickets are available until the 27th of September and there are a small number everyday for walk ups as well as the main way of booking which is online. 


I live in a seaside town and the resemblance to a fairground attraction past its prime is spot on.  In fact wandering around Weston-Super-Mare before and after you can see why Banksy put this exhibition here. A seaside town slightly faded from it's 50's heyday and close to where Bristol born Banksy lived. In fact it's highly likely that Banksy visited Weston when he was a child, maybe the idea has been there in his head for years.


Dismaland staff are suitably depressed, unhelpful and sarcastic

Staff are suitably sullen and miserable and it is all part of the experience. My son was stopped by a 'security' person as he was videoing. She stood there whilst he was filming, with her hand over his camcorder whilst eating a Kit Kat. This is all part of the show by the way.


Modern art often has underlying meaning and social commentary on the state of life, the Universe and everything, and the way this exhibition delves into this is no different. A 'fairy tale castle', inside being a overturned princess carriage with the paparazzi taking photos, and the boats full with immigrants looking solemn as they float into the abyss are some such artworks. Thought provoking stuff. Then there is the fun aspect of the exhibition - the hook a duck stall with the prize being a fish finger in a plastic bag for example. 


Like a grown up dystopian apocalyptic fairground, some things add that run down feeling - in the castle wires protrude from the ceiling, signs are shakily handwritten, no bright painted attractions here, everything is, well, dismal. That is except the carousel, bright, inviting to children, fun - oh yes there is a strange model of a man dressed as a surgeon with a knife sitting there...


It's not just Banksy either, 58 other artists are involved including Damien Hirst, Jimmy Caulty and Jenny Holzer.


Would this work in any other country? Probably not. There is something about the great British sense of humour that loves this mickey take of Disney (no pun intended) and the saccharin sweetness that is the American theme park.


“Are you looking for an alternative to the soulless sugar-coated banality of the average family day out? Or just somewhere cheaper. Then this is the place for you — a chaotic new world where you can escape from mindless escapism. Instead of a burger stall, we have a museum. In place of a gift shop we have a library, well, we have a gift shop as well.

“Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus —a bemusement park. A theme park who’s big theme is: theme parks should have bigger themes…

“This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spraycans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation."


Dismaland is bemusing, yet amusing too. A family day out? If your family likes grown up modern art then yes, it's not for little ones that is for sure. If you like modern art then go, and don't forget to exit through the gift shop....


Dragons and Fairy Dust
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32 comments

  1. i love this and how it's skipped anything like tongue-in-cheek and just gone for it. Sadly it's a little too far away for me to visit, but I've enjoyed your post sullen staff included :)

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments Stephanie.

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  2. I am so jealous, would love to go and visit this exhibition but unfortunately we live to far away. Thank you for sharing your photos it looks great x

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  3. I have heard so much good feedback about this place - and I love Banksy's work. I really think I am going to try and visit. Kaz x

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  4. Great photos and a review of the place - even as a Disney nut, I can appreciate the modern art and what the artists are trying to convey. I would like have seen it in real life, but alas, it's doubtful we'll get down to Weston before the installation comes down.

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    1. That's interesting Michelle, I wondered if it would upset Disney lovers but if you have a sense of humour then obviously not.

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  5. 'This Mickey take of Disney' *snort* That really made me chuckle. Glad you had a great time, I really must try and get down there at some point!

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  6. This place looks so interesting!...I wish it was closer so I could go!

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  7. i'm so tempted to go see if i can get tickets for this and this has just encouraged me lol!

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  8. That looks like a great place to visit. It looks really interesting x

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  9. I would have loved to go this. I'm such a huge fan of modern art and Banksy especially. I wish there was one on nearer to me x

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  10. Fab review of the place, it does look and sound incredible and it so very clever and thought out x

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    1. It is well thought out and very clever. It had some thought provoking messages but on a more superficial level it is just great fun!

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  11. What a great review and I love all the photos. I would really love to go and visit. I have heard nothing but great things!

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  12. Sounds amazing- I really want to go!

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  13. I would love to go here, love the way Banksy puts a spin on things.

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  14. I've read a few blog posts about Dismaland now and am so tempted to go!

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  15. Looks like a fab place to visit. Great photos x

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  16. This looks amazing, I so wish we lived nearer as I definitely would have popped down to see it it. x

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    1. It is an excellent price too, so affordable to get in.

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  17. A thoughtful review of Dismaland, I only wish it was going to be around a bit longer.

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  18. It sounds as though it definitely makes an impression, which is what it's all about. I'm definitely intrigued, though don't know if the image of those asylum seekers would be a bit much given this week's events.

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    1. It does make an impression, that's for sure Claire. I did think whether I should show that but it is an important issue.

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  19. Brilliant Banksy, I love his work. Hubby and I are hoping to visit really soon. Brilliant review :)

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  20. This looks amazing, certainly makes an impression! It's very cleverly thought out

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  21. It ois certainly different and more than a little bit of a talking point

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    1. It has now finished. It was a very clever exhibition and brought a lot of money into the local economy.

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  22. Great review! This exhibition is a clever statement.

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