Coordinates: 51°20′27″N 2°58′58″W / 51.3409°N 2.9828°W / 51.3409; -2.9828
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Date21 August – 27 September 2015
LocationWeston-super-Mare, Somerset, England
Coordinates51°20′27″N 2°58′58″W / 51.3409°N 2.9828°W / 51.3409; -2.9828
ThemeArt exhibition
Organised byBanksy
The 'Tropicana' swimming pool became 'Dismaland'

Dismaland was a temporary art project organised by street artist Banksy in the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England.[1] Prepared in secret, the pop-up exhibition at the Tropicana, a disused lido, was "a sinister twist on Disneyland" that opened during the weekend of 21 August 2015[2] and closed on 27 September 2015, 36 days later. Banksy described it as a "family theme park unsuitable for children."[3] The aesthetic of the "bemusement park" was potentially inspired by the "Dismayland" series of paintings created by American artist Jeff Gillette, who also participated in the exhibition.[4]

Banksy created ten new works and funded the construction of the exhibition himself. The show featured 58 artists of the 60 Banksy originally invited to participate. 4,000 tickets were available for purchase per day, priced at £3 each.[5] It received 150,000 visitors in the five-week period it was open. After it closed, the building material for the project was repurposed as shelters for refugees in the Calais Jungle where he also added murals.[6][7]


Local residents of Weston-super-Mare were told that a Hollywood company called Atlas Entertainment was using the location to film a crime thriller called Grey Fox. Signs proclaiming "Grey Fox Productions" were posted around entrances to the site.[8][9] Pictures of its construction began surfacing online in early August 2015, and included a "fairy castle and massive sculptures".[10] Holly Cushing, whose name appeared in the credits of a documentary about Banksy and who is often reported to be his manager, was sighted at the construction site before the opening, which made the project less of a "secret".[10][11]


Big Rig Jig at Dismaland in 2015

Among the structures photographed prior to the opening were a large pinwheel by Banksy,[12] Horse Scaffolding Sculpture by Ben Long,[13] and a twisted truck sculpture, Big Rig Jig by artist Mike Ross which was previously shown at Burning Man in 2007.[14][15][16] Works by 58 artists, including Jenny Holzer, Damien Hirst, Jeff Gillette, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Barminski were featured in the park. Banksy said he contacted the "best artists I could imagine" to exhibit, two of whom turned him down.[5]

Art Historian Dr Gavin Grindon from the University of Essex curated Dismaland's political exhibits, including a bus housing a collection of dangerous and violent objects (from homeless spikes to riot shields and rubber bullets) under the banner of 'Cruel Designs'.[17]

A fake payday loan shop for kids called "Pocket Money Loans" by Darren Cullen was open next to the children's sand pit. Offering kids an "advance on their pocket money at 5000% interest", the floor had a trampoline installed so the children could jump high enough to read the small print on their credit agreements.[5]

The artist and engineer Tim Hunkin created a caravan ride for the event. Visitors sat in the centre of the caravan while outside a steward turned a wheel to rotate the entire caravan around them, producing an optical illusion that the visitors themselves were spinning inside a static room.[citation needed]

For one exhibit, the books of Jeffrey Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare, a British novelist and former politician who served a prison sentence for perjury, were burned each day in a fire pit.[18] Every one of the estimated 150,000 visitors to the park entered through a fake cardboard, handpainted security check point created by artist Bill Barminski. On Fridays there were scheduled performances by musicians including Run the Jewels, De La Soul, Damon Albarn, and Pussy Riot.[19]

Banksy's coin-operated Dream Boat, created for Dismaland, was donated by the artist to the NGO Help Refugees (now known as Choose Love) in the run-up to Christmas 2018 to help raise money for the charity. The artwork was displayed in Help Refugees' London pop-up shop and members of the public could pay £2 to enter a competition to guess the weight of the piece. The person whose guess was closest to the actual weight would win Dream Boat.[20] The 'guess-the-weight' competition was seen as 'deliberately school fair' in style.[21]


Inside Dismaland

Contributors of artworks included:

A full list was published on the Dismaland Web site.[22]

Contributor Shadi Alzaqzouq from Palestine covered up his work with a bedsheet bearing a slogan in protest at the presence of Israeli artists; the covered work remained in place. The issue was later resolved, and the work was uncovered.[23]


Visitors queuing for tickets

High demand for tickets to the exhibition caused the Dismaland website to crash repeatedly. Some wondered whether or not this was deliberately contrived by Banksy as part of the irony of the Dismaland experience.[24]

Many celebrities were attracted to the venue, some international, such as Brad Pitt, Jack Black, Neil Patrick Harris, Nicholas Hoult, Wayne Coyne, Russell Brand, Ant & Dec, Mark Ronson, Darren Criss, Daddy G, CGP Grey and Brady Haran.[25]

The exhibit had a mixed reception from critics. Jonathan Jones in the Guardian found it depressing: "brings together a lot of bad art by the seaside."[26] Dan Brooks in The New York Times was critical of the easy sarcasm.[27]

The exhibition proved to be popular with visitors, with many prepared to queue for hours each day for one of the 500 daily walk-in tickets. It brought in 150,000 visitors from around the world, boosting the local economy of Weston-super-Mare by £20m.[28][29]

In May 2016, it was announced that Dismaland had been shortlisted for the South Bank Sky Arts Award.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morris, Steven (18 August 2015). "Banksy fans flock to Weston-super-Mare after Dismaland show rumours". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  2. ^ "Is Banksy about to open a new exhibition in Weston-super-Mare?". Bristol Post. 17 August 2015. Archived from the original on 19 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Banksy Dismaland show revealed at Weston's Tropicana – BBC News". BBC News. 20 August 2015. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  4. ^ Holmes, Kevin (28 June 2016). "Meet the 'Slumscape' Painter Who Inspired Banksy's Dystopian Theme Park". Vice. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Brown, Mark (20 August 2015). "Banksy's Dismaland: 'amusements and anarchism' in artist's biggest project yet". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Dismaland to be taken down and sent to Calais to build shelters". The Guardian. Press Association. 28 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Banksy adds Steve Jobs mural to refugee camp made from Dismaland remains". De Zeen. 18 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Seaside exhibition 'bears Banksy hallmarks' says author – BBC News". BBC News. 18 August 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Welcome to Dismaland, Banksy's secret pop-up exhibition – video". The Guardian. 18 August 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Banksy 'using film set as a cover for secret new Dismaland exhibition'". ITV News. 17 August 2015. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  11. ^ Beggs, Alex (18 August 2015). "Is Banksy Out to Ruin Disneyland?". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  12. ^ Pricco, Evan (24 August 2015). "An Interview With Banksy About Dismaland". Juxtapoz, issue 177. Archived from the original on 22 August 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  13. ^ Mills, Eleanor (30 August 2015). "Banksy: A tantalising brush with the Rat King". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  14. ^ Siam Goorwich (18 August 2015). "Banksy's opening a post-apocalyptic theme park called Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare". Metro. Archived from the original on 18 August 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  15. ^ "Upcoming: Banksy "Dismaland" Pop-Up Exhibition @ Weston-Super-Mare". StreetArtNews.net. 19 August 2015. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  16. ^ Nicholas Jackson. "Big Rig Jig". Atlas Obscura. Archived from the original on 11 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Lecturer is a Banksy troublemaker". Gazette. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2023.
  18. ^ Hjelmgaard, Kim (21 August 2015). "British artist Banksy opens anti-theme park 'Dismaland'". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  19. ^ Schwab, Katharine (20 August 2015). "Welcome to 'Dismaland': A Theme Park by Banksy". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  20. ^ N. Hinde, 'Buy A £2 Raffle Ticket And This Banksy Sculpture Could Be Yours' (11/12/18) on HuffPost
  21. ^ Katie Baron, 'How Choose Love Made Charity Credible Again: Pop-Up Sales Storm Towards £1.5m, Doubling 2017 Total' (22/10/18) on Forbes
  22. ^ "Artists — Dismaland Bemusement Park". dismaland.co.uk. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Full list of artists
  23. ^ Horton, Helen (29 August 2015). "Israel protest artist's work stays at Dismaland". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 20 December 2015.
  24. ^ Matt Payton (21 August 2015). "People trying to buy tickets don't think Banksy's Dismaland is real". Metro.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015.
  25. ^ Grey & Brady (29 September 2015). "H.I. #48: Grumpy About Art". Hello Internet (Podcast). Archived from the original on 2 October 2015.
  26. ^ Jones, Jonathan (21 August 2015). "In Dismaland, Banksy has created something truly depressing". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  27. ^ Brooks, Dan (10 September 2015). "Banksy and the Problem With Sarcastic Art". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 16 September 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  28. ^ Hannah Ellis-Petersen (25 September 2015). "Dismaland closure leaves Banksy-shaped hole in Weston-super-Mare". Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 December 2016.
  29. ^ "Banksy's Dismaland 'gave Weston-super-Mare a £20m boost'". BBC News. 25 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Banksy's Dismaland up for South Bank Sky arts award". BBC News. 3 May 2016. Archived from the original on 3 May 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.

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