Art can make us feel new things. Art can be a fountain of morality. Above all, art can push us towards change. This is what the anonymous British cultural art icon Banksy has done over the last few days with his new Christmas-themed mural.
Image credits: Banksy
A video has recently revealed on Banksy’s Instagram account. It features a homeless man, later to be known as Ryan, taking a sip of water in anticipation of his bedtime on a public bench, which is incorporated by sacks full of his belongings.
The shot zooms out to show an artistic extension to the bench—reindeer taking off into the skies. The way the table is set up with Ryan’s belongings on it as well as his physical appearance produces an allusion of him being Santa Clause flying through the evening sky in his sleigh.
A caption is also added with the video, reading: “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes, we filmed Ryan on this bench, passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter—without him ever asking for anything.” People can find the new work of art on Vyse St. in Birmingham.
Image credits: Banksy
Banksy’s new mural draws awareness to a sad and worsening fact that the advent is not a jolly time for all. Winter is the most difficult season for those without a home: temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius, frequent chill winds, and the rare snowfall. Not the most perfect of conditions to sleep under the moonlit sky.
“It’s vital we wake up the to the shocking scale of homelessness in this country,” says Neate. “It’s deeply distressing that so many people are forced to sleep on our streets where they routinely face threats of violence and conditions that can result in serious ill-health or even death.”
For those unaware, Banksy is a world-renowned anonymous English street artist, political activist, and film director. Outdoor locations like streets, walls, and bridges have been the canvas for his visible commentary since the early 1990s. He is famously known for Girl with Balloon, Love is in the Air, and Napalm, as well as a handful of other works.
This isn’t Banksy’s first Christmas-themed mural, as there was also Season’s Greetings. It features a young kid catching snowflakes with his tongue on one side of a wall. On the other, however, it is revealed that the snow is actually smoke and embers coming from a fire. It used to be on the steelworker’s garage in Port Talbot, but was later moved to a gallery in the town’s Ty’r Orsaf building
Image credits: Why Palestine? / Banksy
You can also become a part of Shelter’s mission by giving to the Shelter’s Urgent Christmas Appeal by going to their website or, if you’re from the UK, you can text SHELTER to 70030 to donate £3 (texts cost the standard network rate plus £3). The shelter receives 100% of your donations.