Banksy artwork highlighting homelessness appears in Birmingham overnight
Notoriously anonymous graffiti artist Banksy has unveiled a new mural in Birmingham, which focuses on homelessness in the city.
Painted onto a brick wall on Vyse Street in the city’s Jewellery Quarter, next to a bin, the piece of art sees two reindeer seemingly pulling a bench as a sleigh. In a video posted onto the Bristol artist’s Instagram, the bench is occupied by a homeless man and his belongings.
WATCH: What Brummies think of the Banksy homelessness street art:
The caption reads: “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench, passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars, and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”
Writing on Instagram, Banksy said:
“In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”
According to reports by Jewellery Quarter BID (Business Improvement District) stewards on the scene, the artwork has been up since Friday but no one had noticed it was a Banksy so it hadn’t been causing a frenzy until today.
Speaking to an I Am Birmingham reporter, a steward added that graffiti is usually taken down almost immediately in the district but this had been left up “because it looked pretty”.
Brummies and visitors to the city have been flocking to the Jewellery Quarter to see the street art and take photos with it.
Since learning it’s been created by Banksy, the local BID has placed barriers around the installation to ensure crowd control and safety. Police officers have also been on the scene to ensure the extra interest didn’t cause any traffic issues.
Youth homelessness charity St Basils have approved of the artwork, sharing it on their Twitter account.
They wrote: “Brilliant to see Banksy use his talents to highlight the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping in Birmingham. We think all Brummies would like to see an end to rough sleeping and homelessness, and we’re working towards ending youth homelessness in the region.”
“The importance of the message to me is the Jewellery Quarter is vibrant, up and coming and i’m glad something like this has arrived in the Jewellery quarter, i live here, 200 meters up the road, so yeah, it’s nice.
“It [seems] typical of Banksy… at this time of the year, with the homeless crisis, I think it speaks for itself.”
Rekha, was proud to have the mural in her city. She said:
“I’ve come over to see this piece, I think it’s really important as it raises awareness for homeless people.
“I think it’s gonna draw a lot of attention and put Birmingham on the map, especially the Jewellery Quarter so that’s always good!”
“For ages I always wanted him to come to Birmingham and do something, for me to at least catch it as well, I only just seen it. Jewellery Quarter, Vyse Street, I know exactly where that is so I jumped on the bike quickly and came down here before anyone tries to do anything to it or tries to take it down. You know, how these don’t stay up here too long.
“This time of year everyone forgets the homeless and people outside. This brings the community together and makes everybody realise don’t just think about the presents but think about the people that ain’t getting anything.
“The people that are out here stuck, in the cold weather. Same how there was somebody lying on the chair at the time when they put the video up. Same, same thing.”
WATCH: the video of the artist’s latest mural below:
Additional reporting and video interviews by Paul Stringer.