Like many people around the world, elusive street artist Banksy has been spending 2020 publicly reacting to the insane developments that have changed everyone’s lives forever. In May, he debuted a painting called Game Changer in homage to hospital workers in the United Kingdom working on battling back COVID-19, and in June, the artist posted work on his Instagram account in acknowledgment of the Black Lives Matter movement. More recently, however, the graffiti artist has confirmed authorship of artwork that falls more decidedly within his conventional vernacular: a mural of a young child hula-hooping with a bicycle tire that he created on the side of the AVI hair and beauty salon in Nottingham, England.
Over the weekend, Banksy confirmed that the work was his with a post on Instagram. The depiction of the little girl is in black and white, in keeping with the artist’s other famous illustrations of children. In addition to the wall artwork, the piece is accompanied by a broken bicycle affixed to a pole right by the wall; the bicycle only has one tire. Surinder Kaur, the owner of the beauty salon upon which Banksy chose to place his artwork, told the Guardian that a local council had made moves to protect the artwork almost as soon as it had appeared by covering it with a sheer plastic sheet. Already, unidentified people have attempted to vandalize the artwork by spraying the sheet.
“Everyone is very excited and many, many people are coming to see the picture,” Kaur added to the Guardian. “Everyone was confused about whether it was real or not real but it’s an amazing picture, it’s amazing art.” It’s unclear whether this hola hoop girl marks a clear dividing line between Banksy’s recent political art and more innocuous designs, but the broken bicycle certainly adds a whiff of social commentary to what might otherwise be solely characterized as sweet. Whatever the case may be, Banksy certainly knows how to keep his audience interested: like Kaur said, hordes of people have begun to show up in Nottingham to take pictures.