The British graffiti artist Banksy has revealed that he created a new piece that appeared on Monday on a prison wall in Berkshire, England. He says that the artwork depicts an inmate wearing striped pyjamas who lowers himself down the wall using sheets of paper tied together.
Banksy revealed that the artwork was made with a video posted online. The video shows the work being sprayed onto the wall with a clip taken from the TV series “The Joy of Paintin” (hosted by American painter Bob Ross). The program, which originally aired in 1987 and 1988, featured Ross creating a new oil paint canvas in every segment. In the new video Banksy has used the footage to mimic his own installation process.
The typewriter in Banksy’s piece is likely a reference to Oscar Wilde, who spent two years in jail for homosexuality. His imprisonment prompted the poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaols,” which he wrote in exile after his release from jail.
The Grade II listed buildings was shut down in 2013 and has since become a filming location for shows including Killing Eve, as well as an exhibition space for a major exhibition in 2017. The exhibition, called Inside: Artists and Writers inside Reading Prison, featured works by artists such as Stephen McQueen, Marlene Dummass, Nan Goldin, and Ai Weiwei, among others. It also included readings from writers such as the poet Allen Ginsberg and the novelist Martin Amis.
A campaign was launched to prevent the Ministry of Justice from selling off its historic prison building.
Banksy has declared himself in favor of transforming the vacant Reading Gaol building into an art gallery and cultural hub.