East Croydon Cool talks…Banksy

Wow, what a day! For those who haven’t picked up on Twitter’s trending topic… in the early hours of this morning, what appeared to be a Banksy installation, arrived in Croydon.

Yep, that’s right, one of the most influential and divisive artists of our time, had apparently hit up the Cronx. But it was not (just) with one of the stencil art pieces he is arguably most famous for.

Located on the corner of Church Road and Frith Road (below the Pure Gym), the ‘Gross Domestic Product’ homewares store showcased a variety of his art works (seemingly dressed up as items for sale).

By 9.30am, the 5 shop windows, all loosely themed around different topics, were gathering increasing interest from passers-by. All the items were labelled with barcodes and a website address enabling people to buy online. Although at this point in the day, it led to a holding site that simply said ‘hello gdp3’.

Social media feeds of locals highlighted a few of the stand out pieces including:

The Vest
Whether the real deal or a replica, the vest worn by Croydon artist Stormzy when performing his headline set at Glastonbury this year, was always going to be a popular frame of reference for local residents. The label explained that it was “A version of the John Bull English gents waistcoat updated for modern times” and that it was “worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury (because its very dangerous there)”.

The Tombstone
Always an uplifting site to see on the morning commute (!), the tombstone was annotated with “What do you get for the person who has everything? A 230kg reminder that you can’t take it with you. Hand carved by Banksy in Portland Stone”.

Baby Mobile
Any sense of innocence at the sight of an infant’s crib was soon eradicated on closer inspection. The baby mobile hanging above it was made out of CCTV cameras, representing “a lifetime of constant scrutiny both state sanctioned and self-imposed”.

Early Learning Counting Set
Similarly, the children’s toy (cleverly positioned at child’s eye level) also took on a more sinister meaning with explanation. “Engage all your child’s learning muscles with this fun counting game. See how many figures they can fit in the truck while it makes a quick stop. Proceeds from the sale of this item are used to support migrant rescue missions in the Mediterranean.”

Clock
Possibly the most recognisable of Bansky works, this series of clocks were complemented by a new piece of street art outside the store. “Upcycled from an office supplies store, this timepiece features a trademark Banksy rat and is suitable for home, office or Home Office. The precision mechanism requires 1 x AA battery to accurately mark our relentless and steady ticking towards the great unknown”.

As locals buzzed around outside, questioning what was going on and if it was indeed the real Banksy at work, an online article in The Independent was the first to be published to shed some light on the project:

“What appears to be a new Banksy installation has been spotted in South London. The work appeared in a formally derelict site beneath a PureGym in Croydon and displays a number of different “rooms”.

As the afternoon rolled on, with security working out how to best manage the building and the gathering crowds, Banksy confirmed via Instagram (to his 6 million followers) that it was him who was behind the project:

 

Other National media subsequently jumped on the story quoting Banksy’s official media statement surrounding the reason behind the new ‘store’. “{my motivation for this venture} is possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art. A greetings card 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 wont show up in court to defend myself.”

Mark Stephens, an arts lawyer and founder of the Design and Artists Copyright Society, has been advising Banksy on what he describes as “frankly ludicrous litigation”. He explained that “Banksy is in a difficult position because he doesn’t produce his own range of shoddy merchandise and the law is quite clear- if the trademark holder is not using the mark, then it can be transferred to someone who will”. As a solution to the issue, Mr Stephens advised Banksy to begin his own range of merchandise and open a shop.

And so Gross Domestic Product was born.

Apparently items will be on sale online “from £10” although “availability will be limited”.

Regardless, art fans will be able to visit the physical store for the next two weeks to see the windows and there’s no doubt this is a massive coup for Croydon that will see thousands of people flock to the neighbourhood. That’s something we can all Bank(sy) on.

To see more photos, follow our Instagram Story on @EastCroydonCool.

 

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Welcome to #croydon, #banksy! #grossdomesticproduct

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#banksy #grossdomesticproduct

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#banksy #grossdomesticproduct #streetartlondon #nbf

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