Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Banksy opens pop-up shop in London

The anonymous artist said he had opened the shop to stop a greetings card company selling fake merchandise under his name

Members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy in Croydon, England. Getty
Members of the public queue to look at a new installation by elusive artist Banksy in Croydon, England. Getty

The anonymous British street artist Banksy has set up a shop in a south London suburb, with artwork sales used to replace a migrant rescue ship confiscated by the Italian authorities.

The shop, called “Gross Domestic Product”, was opened without fanfare in Croydon, south London, this week with various works displayed in the front windows including a stab-proof vest worn by rapper Stormzy at Glastonbury and a baby’s cot surrounded by CCTV cameras.

Banksy confirmed on Instagram that the works were his, writing: “This showroom is for display purposes only. I’m opening a shop today (although the doors don't actually open).

“It’s in Croydon. Probably best viewed at night.”

The artist said the display, in a disused shop, will be open for two weeks. The products displayed will be available to purchase online.

"We hope to offer something for everyone, prices start from £10 but availability will be limited - all of these products are hand made in the UK using existing or recycled materials wherever possible," a sign on the shop-front read.

Banksy revealed in a statement that he had opened the shop to stop a greetings card company trading merchandise under his name.

He explained: "A greetings cards company is contesting the trademark I hold to my art, and attempting to take custody of my name so they can sell their fake Banksy merchandise legally.”

“I think they’re banking on the idea I won’t show up in court to defend myself,” the artist, who has gone to great lengths to protect his identity, said.

At Banksy's pop-up shop 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, London: a rug reimagining a famous cartoon character used to advertise a sugar-coated cereal. AFP
At Banksy's pop-up shop 'Gross Domestic Product' in Croydon, London: a rug reimagining a famous cartoon character used to advertise a sugar-coated cereal. AFP

Banksy was advised by his lawyer to produce his own range of merchandise, which would make it easier to protect his copyright under UK law.

He admitted his motivation was "possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art".

However, this did not stop onlookers from Croydon and beyond flocking to the pop-up installation on Wednesday morning.

A “Tony the Tiger” rug, featuring a cartoon character which was used to advertise a sugar-coated cereal with decayed teeth, caught the eye of mother-of-three Joanne.

“It’s clever,” the Croydon-based 39-year-old said, referring to a sign next to the rug which drew attention to the UK spending £7.8 million a year on tooth extractions for children under five.

Toys featuring refugees are seen in the shopfront. AFP
Toys featuring refugees are seen in the shopfront. AFP

Another of the items for sale is a children’s toy set, featuring refugee figures being loaded onto a truck.

“I love Banksy,” said retired art enthusiast Ellen, from nearby Forest Hill. “Whenever I hear of anything he’s done around London, I go and see it. Some people might find this work a little bit controversial.”

Fellow Banksy fan Robert, 53, said he thought the pop-up display’s opening had been timed to generate publicity for an upcoming auction of a painting by the artist, which is expected to break records.

Devolved Parliament, made by the artist in 2009, features British members of parliament as a bunch of chimps. It is estimated to sell at Sotheby’s in London on Thursday for an estimated £1.5 to £2 million (Dh7m to Dh9m).

A previous Banksy painting sold at the famous auction house fetched a record £1.13m for the artist. Love is in the Bin, originally titled Girl with Balloon, grabbed headlines when it shredded immediately after it was sold.

“We’ll see what happens with Devolved Parliament,” Robert said. “Maybe that’ll be shredded too.”

Updated: October 2, 2019 05:52 PM

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