Banksy, probably the world’s best-known living artist, notorious for his thought-provoking and often temporary art installations, has set up shop in Surrey Street.
The artist has taken over a previously empty retail premises at the Church Street end of the Croydon street market, the big reveal coming this morning with the shop name: Gross Domestic Product.
There’s more than a sense that the emphasis there is on the word “Gross”.
Large crowds, and some police, were present during the morning rush hour, as the pop-up art gallery was placed, literally, in the shop window.
Among the items on display is what is believed to be the Banksy-designed, Union Jack stab vest worn by South Norwood grime star Stormzy during his Glastonbury Festival set this year.
The Banksy exhibition – this is far more than a single, one-off work – appeared beneath PureGym on Church Street, handy for Cockneys of Croydon’s pie and mash.
Market traders suggest that work had been underway on the installation since the weekend.
“It’s absolutely huge,” said one suitably gob-smacked council worker on their way to Fisher’s Folly for another day of vacuous hot-desking.
It includes a number of different “rooms”, all viewed through a shop window, and all deeply laden with a message.
One features a baby’s cot with an array of CCTV cameras pointing at it.
Another has a tiger rug laid out across the floor – except this appears to be a version of Tony, the cartoon tiger used for Frosties cereal adverts in the 1960s and 1970s.
There is one window which has a gravestone, on which is carved “You have now reached your destination”.
The Stormzy vest is accompanied by an explainer that reads: “A version of the ‘John Bull’ English gents waistcoat updated for modern times. This customised body armour is capable of stopping bullets up to .45 calibre and is fully stab proof.
“As worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury festival (because it’s very dangerous there). Yet not machine washable [sic]. Signed. Edition of 5 plus 2 A/P.”
The explainer also includes a website link, grossdomesticproduct.com, which appears to display a constantly changing, brief message.
This is all a bit of a departure for Banksy, whose subversive street art works usually appear as single pieces. Some can auction for millions of pounds. But as with all Banksy’s work, there is no sign of the artist himself, and the chances are that this work will only be temporary.
So don’t delay in getting down to Surrey Street to see it while it is still there – and pick up some fresh fruit and veg along the way…
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