Nothing to eat at the Bristol Art Gallery, but plenty of food for thought ... various striking things about the Bristol Museum vs Banksy exhibition: there are a lot of jokes, there are a lot of people in the queue who don't normally visit art galleries, there are a lot of children roaring round the museum looking for Banksy jokes and finding other inspirations. Thoroughly recommended - Banksy will make you laugh out loud, challenge some of your perceptions of art and of the world, deflate any tendency to pomposity, and make you notice all sorts of things in the museum. It's not subtle, but it's great fun.
This joke definitely got me thinking about the gleaners as real people; there's something a little lazy about romantising such tough lives. And who's to say you wouldn't want to sit down for a quiet smoke if that was your life?
This is Banksy's version of the Angel of the North ... a southerner's view of Saturday night on Tyneside - but just as true of Bristol - we were kept awake much of the night by noisy young pouring out of a nearby nightclub and the university student union.
You could say that this is simplistic, it was one of a number of works dealing with warfare and violence (eg a classical bust of Mars thrown in a bucket with some flowers next to a large painting of soldiers armed with flowers); if you don't agree with Banksy's pacifism, it's no good reacting pompously, because the next work will be a joke. Like this rather gory circus joke, which reminded me of various stories and poems I read to our children when young ..
- (Jim) hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!
- With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
- And hungrily began to eat
- The Boy: beginning at his feet.
- Now, just imagine how it feels
- When first your toes and then your heels,
- And then by gradual degrees,
- Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
- Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
- No wonder Jim detested it!
It's part of Jim, from Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, a poem all our children know by heart.
The lovely Edwardian museum has probably never seen anything like it; it's free, but you'll have to queue - there were several hundred people ahead of us when we arrived half an hour before opening time at 9.30 (on a SUNDAY). By the time we came out, the queue was twice as long, the people at the back were probably going to have to wait at least an hour, maybe more.