Gharieni GmbH
Gharieni GmbH
Gharieni GmbH

Attractions

Banksy’s Dismaland

It generated huge amounts of hype, and an estimated £20m for the local community, but was artist Banksy’s summer pop-up attraction, Dismaland worth a visit? Magali Robathan found out


Like most people who grew up in Banksy’s home town of Bristol, UK, I was aware of the artist and his graffitti before it became internationally famous. I also visited the Tropicana Lido in Weston-Super-Mare, UK, as a child, so was intrigued to see how he used the – now derelict – site to stage Dismaland, his pop up ‘bemusement park’ which ran from August to September 2015.

It was Banksy’s most ambitious project to date, described by the artist as “a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism.” Assembled in secret, the 2.5 acre amusement park featured 10 new sculptures and artworks by Banksy, as well as work by more than 50 other artists.

As with anything Banksy does, the hype was incredible. The Dismaland website crashed, tickets sold out in minutes, and the internet was full of a pretty equal mix of scathing and glowing reviews of the park. One thing’s for sure – Banksy certainly knows how to get himself talked about.

I visited on a Friday night and deliberately avoided reading too much in advance so I could make up my own mind. The experience started on entry, when I had to walk through a cardboard airport-style security checkpoint created by US artist Bill Barminski, complete with grumpy staff wearing Mickey Mouse-style ears barking at me to stop smiling.

NOT SO DISMAL
I imagine the park must have looked pretty dismal on a grey day – with the ramshackle amusements, the old rickety ferris wheel and Banksy’s ruined Disney-esque castle sitting in the middle of a dirty-looking lake.

After dark though, it actually looked quite attractive and there was a bit of a festival atmosphere, with the big wheel lit up; the bar strung with coloured lights; a firepit (fed with the novels of Lord Jeffrey Archer) providing warmth; live comedy and customer-operated puppets dancing to salsa music in Paul Insect and Bast’s Fly Tip Theatre (constructed entirely from the contents of London Hackney skips).

There was an enormous amount to see at Dismaland, and I found the experience both enjoyable and unsettling. Banksy’s Immigrants on a Boat exhibit – in which you can steer boats full of refugees across the water – was quite chilling, particularly as the week I visited, three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body was washed up on the beach on Kos and the refugee crisis exploded in the international media.

While the anti-corporate, anti-establishment message of the park isn’t exactly breaking new ground, there were installations I found genuinely throught-provoking. The Museum of Cruel Objects, curated by Gavin Grindon, tells the story of the role of design in keeping people (and animals) in line on behalf of the state, from stun tongs to anti homeless spikes. I found the timeline explaining the history of CCTV particularly enlightening – it made me think about how much we blindly accept an increasing lack of privacy without questioning where it might be leading us.

The main exhibition hall featured an impressive range of contemporary art by international artists. My favourite was Jimmy Cauty’s model town showing a dystopian city entirely populated by police. The detail was staggering, and I spent a good 15 minutes examining the various scenes.

A MIXED BAG
Not all of the exhibits worked for me – some felt a bit weak and one dimensional; as though the artists were trying to be clever without any genuine meaning or feeling behind them. The oil caliphate-themed crazy golf course Mini Gulf fell into this category for me, with the play on words the most interesting thing about it.

I found the experience surprisingly undismal. It was dark and unsettling, at times thought-provoking, and a lot more fun than I’d expected. And it was a success for the local community, with official estimates showing it generated £20m ($30m E28m) for the seaside town.

Gallery
Click on an image to open the image gallery
company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
videos
BluGalaxy a Division of Blu Spas
Blu Spas
This animation showcases the beautiful concept design of BluGalaxy Spa.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Last word: Tina Norden
Tina Norden
"We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional"

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on playing with colour at Prague’s newly redesigned Hotel Maximilian

CopenHill is a “crystal clear example of hedonistic sustainability,” says BIG founder Bjarke Ingels
"It was born from the sheer anxiety of having to submit something brilliant in a very short timescale"

How a moment of desperation led to BIG’s CopenHill, the clean power plant that’s doubling as a skiing and leisure destination. Magali Robathan speaks to the architects that made it happen

Health & Fitness: Working it
"We’ve designed the space so that the atmosphere is intimate"

Les Mills’ new studio spaces at its iconic Auckland City Gym showcase a trend away from masculine ‘grunty’ gyms to something altogether different

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
Marianne Shillingford
"The technology involved in paint is extraordinary"

Used cleverly, colour has the power to influence how people use the spaces they inhabit, says the creative director of Dulux

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

The book was published in 2019 by RIBA Publishing
Elina Grigoriou
"Temperature, noise level and colour affect our stress levels. As designers we should be asking ourselves, how do these things match up?"

The London-based interior designer and wellness expert hopes her new book will help readers understand how to design with wellbeing in mind

features
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

Manuelle Gautrand
"The cities where you have good cultural buildings and facilities – it’s a way for people to mix, to share the city in a much deeper way"

The French architect and winner of the 2017 European Prize for Architecture tells us why she is determined to surprise

cladkit product news
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
cladkit product news
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
cladkit product news
Fabio Alemanno Design uses elegant semi-precious stones to create memorable spa experiences
Alemanno believes the stones are well-placed in the spa environment thanks to their capacity to positively support physical and mental health
Megan Whitby
Fabio Alemanno Design has expanded its collection with semi-precious stones to enhance spas, wellness facilities, hotels and private residences. The ...
Diamond balloon concept merges tourist attraction with advertising billboard
Magali Robathan
A group of Dutch engineers have presented a new attractions concept that combines a flying observation cabin with LED digital ...
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
x
Email this to a friend or colleague
I am happy for Leisure Media to contact me occasionally by email and understand that I can opt out at any time.
Attractions: Banksy’s Dismaland
It generated massive amounts of hype as well as millions for the local economy, but was Banksy's Dismaland actually any good?
Gharieni GmbH
Gharieni GmbH