Technogym
Technogym
Technogym

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
Movement in the platform creates vibrations, adding a sense of danger
Alan Metcalfe
"When people are a bit scared, they gather together"

Featuring a vibrating glass platform and one of the US’s longest tree canopy walks, Whiting Forest has been designed to bring visitors closer to nature and to one another

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

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
The design of the Da Sistina restaurant was inspired by traditional Roman trattoria
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

The family enlisted Keith Summerour to design the resort
"Sam was such a champion for the team, and my goal is simply to carry that same torch"

As Blackberry Mountain resort opens in Tennessee, we find out why the project is a deeply personal one for owner Mary Celeste Beall

The transparent structure is defined by delicate columns, offering views inside and out
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

features
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

The waste-to-energy plant has a ski slope, hiking trails, an 85m climbing wall, restaurant and apres ski bar
"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

Interview: Elizabeth de Portzamparc
Elizabeth de Portzamparc
"We need to stop the destruction of our world through predatory practices. We need to think of the future"

The architect behind Nimes’ Musée de la Romanité on designing to counter loneliness and the need for more cultural buildings

cladkit product news
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 ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
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
Jaffe Holden helps bring Academy Museum of Motion Pictures alive
Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics for the Academy Museum
Magali Robathan
Acoustical consulting firm Jaffe Holden provided architectural acoustics and audio/video design services for the recently opened Academy Museum of Motion ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
Technogym
Technogym