A Visit To Dismaland ‘Bemusement Park’

On Wednesday we were delighted to thankfully make it to Weston-super-Mare in order to pay a visit to Dismaland a group show and installation curated by Banksy in the town’s abandoned beach front Lido. We visited Bristol the previous day (post coming soon) in order to travel to Weston-super-Mare to spend the night so as to be able to make a fresh start the following morning against the lengthy queues we had been forewarned about. We arrived at 9am and were delighted to be first in the queue, with a two hour wait to enter at 11am. When we arrived there was already quite the queue at the ticket desk opposite the lido with people attempting to secure tickets to see the event and within the hour the queue of people with tickets was increasingly growing in length with excitement in the air.

Following the obligatory security checks, we were ready to enter the park, at this stage one is met by the first of many condescending staff members who direct you to the fake security check where the fun begins. This section created by Californian artist Bill Barminski, consists of cardboard X-ray machines and tables full of cardboard objects supposedly taken from visitors, accompanied by rather aggressive looking and hostile security officers. Following this, one enters the park to be greeted by staff handing out the guides to the park, we say handing out but in reality this entailed them refusing to hand over said maps, snatching them away as you attempted to take them and resulting in our case with the map eventually being thrown on the floor for us to obtain. At this stage one had no illusions about the experience that one was about to undertake, yet still you couldn’t help but smile at the experience unfolding.

Then you were offered your first glimpse at the spoof theme park in all it’s shabby and neglected glory. There were no pretensions about this place, with its muddy, incomplete walkways and ruined surfaces Dismaland offers an impression of a crude and botched thrown-togetherness that is entirely at odds with the real money behind the project and technical expertise and planning that has brought the whole thing into being. As the name suggests this isn’t your conventional fantasy driven sweet Disney World experience but in fact a ‘Bemusement Park’ enthused with a sense of misery and disappointment, were things don’t work, the staff are rude and joy is noticeable in its absence.

On a whole the experience is deeply unsettling, yet bizarrely entertaining, you can’t help but walk around with a smile at the array of amusing and tongue-in-cheeks setups around the 2.5 acre site. On announcing the project Banksy described Dismaland as “a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism” and one can’t argue with that comment. The park is fuelled with works and installations from more than fifty artists from seventeen countries, the three galleries are worth the modest £3 entrance fee alone, however it is the park’s immersive and unrelenting nature that make it so memorable and paradoxically fun. The staff remain admirably in character at all times and are resolutely depressed about their duties, the works are witty, tongue-in-cheek and sometimes outrageous, but above it all in its own perverse way Dismaland is very much fun and a world apart from your average art show.

P1320982

The first of many stencils on the floor outside Weston-super-Mare train station directing visitors to the attraction.

P1310739

The queue when we arrived at 9am.

P1310738

P1310752

P1310770

The queues to get into Dismaland at 10am, an hour before the attraction opened.

P1310777

P1310783

P1310787

P1310797

‘Cinderella’s Castle’ was constructed by Block9 who construct set builds and installations for events.

P1310801

A superb sculpture of Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, distorted and mirroring a reflection image in water. 

P1310803

A broken and abandoned fountain set aside the lido’s pool.

P1320237

The feature work in the ‘Cinderella’s Castle’ a sculpture by Banksy depicting an upturned Disney carriage revealing a dead Cinderella surrounded by the Paparazzi who aren’t helping but merely documenting the unfolding tragedy. The inspiration of this work is clear, referencing the death of Princess Diana and setting to reveal “how it feels to be a real princess.” In this section the scene is completed by the flashing lights of the journalists cameras accompanied by the sound of flashbulbs and the classic Disney tweeting tones of the cartoon birds surrounding Cinderella.

P1310792

P1310815

P1310818

P1310820

‘Water Cannon Creek’ offering an armour plated riot control vehicle of the ilk deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland, during The Troubles, fully equipped with sniper posts, grenade launchers and additionally a children’s slide. 

P1320877

P1320887

The lido’s life guard who could be heard constantly blowing her whistle and chastising passers-by to “STOP RUNNING” and warning revelers not to pee in the pool.

P1320204

Rubbish and debris dumped in the pools around Cinderella’s Castle.

P1310795

Summing up the ethos of this show, work by David Shrigley.

P1310808

An interesting modern take on the carnival face in the hole boards prevalent at seaside resorts and offering an interesting commentary on the modern ‘selfie’ obsessed culture we live in.

P1310810

A second carnival face in the hole board offering a rather unconventional subject matter. This piece was certainly a success with a constant flow of people clambering to seize the opportunity to get their photo taken with this unorthodox work.

P1310832

‘Fly Tip Theatre’ by Paul Insect and Bast, a puppet revue show constructed entirely from appropriated contents of Hackney Skips.

P1310835

P1310839

P1320895

P1310856

P1310852

Pocket Money Loans by Darren Cullen offers a rather interesting and certainly humorous look at the way in which individuals are targeted by banks and loans companies in order to become in debt and then shackled to their existance. This look at the empty promises of consumerism focuses on a loan shop targeted at under 12’s. Of the work Darren states how he is “especially interested in the point where the terrible requirements of our system collide with the innocence of childhood. Children’s play, like every other aspect of human life, has been colonised by capitalism, adapted into a sort of childhood training camp for the hard-working consumers and soldiers of tomorrow.” Once inside the booth the only way to catch a glimpse of the company’s punitive interest rate is by bouncing on a trampoline. 

P1310858

P1310865

P1310873

P1310888

Children’s play area.

P1310860

The Giant Pin Wheel constructed by Banksy to power the entire site, but could be seen just about starting up before creaking back into submission and lack of use.

P1310895

An impossible crazy golf course themed around a oil caliphate and constructed from the hockey pitch at Cheltenham Ladies College.

P1310905

One of many run down and seemingly broken and abandoned childrens rides no longer functioning at Dismaland.

P1320855

All the impressive art pieces and installations aside, it really was the incredible members of staff that truely generated the Dismaland experience, unrelenting in their boredom and indifference.

P1310918

The ‘Anarchists Tent’ comprising a multitude of protest signs, a fundamental and spontaneous medium of folk art, intrinsically linked to the dissatisfaction of individuals and groups against the states that run our lives.

P1310929

P1310934

P1310943

Excellent work by Mana Neyestani in the ‘Anarchists Tent’. Mana is an Iranian cartoonist who now lives in France, having escaped Iran for Paris whilst on temporary release from prison in 2006 following arrest over one of his satirical cartoons.

P1310951

Work by Mana Neyestani.

P1310961

Work by Mana Neyestani.

P1310962

P1310990

Work by Pure Evil.

P1310911

Standing stallion sculpture by Ben Long made from used scaffolding.

P1310915

P1320058

P1320062

Superb and poignant sculpture looking at the link between oil conglomerates such as BP and the devastation they wreak on the environment.

P1320039

P1320817

P1320818

P1320046

“Un-Fuck The System”.

P1320080

Work by Banksy, paying homage to, and mocking, the traditional seaside aquarium.

P1320034

P1320027

P1320083

P1320088

Work by American furniture tweaking artist Michael Beitz.

P1320099

P1320290

Series of paste-ups offering a number of witty and sarcastic comments on modern life by Wasted Rita.

P1320270

Poster work by Wasted Rita.

P1320101

P1320815

The sites truck mounted cinema offering a rolling program of short films continuously throughout the day.

P1320327

P1320311

One of the sites attractions featuring an oil-drenched pelican as the feature piece and offering the chance to win a fish finger in a bag.

P1320318

P1320105

‘Big Rig Jig’ – Mike Ross, a superb sculpture featuring two juggernauts performing ballet.

P1320115

Work by Banksy, the only stencil work in the park, offering a glimpse at a more classic styling of Banksy’s art origins.

P1320144

An exceptionally tongue-in-cheek attraction from Banksy, offering the opportunity to pay £1 to control one of the three boats full of refugees or the gunboat set to herd and deter the desperate occupants of the other boats. Additionally the water was full of several floating bodies, a piece that has become all the more topical since its conception and the opening of Dismaland.

P1320152

P1320154

P1320175

The fully functional merry-go-round, with a rather amusing and haunting addition of the butcher sat atop boxes of mince meat and set below a strung up horse from the merry-go-round, offering a rather sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek reference to the horse meat scandal of 2013.

P1320939

P1320434

Nettie Wakefield’s portrait platform, offering the chance to have your portrait drawn in pencil, but only of the back of your head.

P1320380

Work by American furniture tweaking artist Michael Beitz.

P1320405

‘Winning Is Strictly prohibited’ by David Shrigley.

P1320928

David Shrigley’s booth at Dismaland, “Topple The Anvil & Win The Anvil”.

P1320800

P1320385

Installation by Banksy showcasing an elderly lady being mauled by excessively aggressive resident sea gulls, also one of the sites prominent photo opportunities.

P1320398

P1320483

At this stage you enter The Galleries, an area comprising three sections, consisting of a broad range of contemporary artworks to be viewed. This piece is Banksy’s ‘Dance With Death’. Which features the Grim Reaper performing a choreographed performance in a Dodgem car accompanied to the Bee Gee’s Stayin Alive.

P1320500

Work by Damien Hirst.

P1320541

Work by Josh Keyes.

P1320544

Work by Josh Keyes.

P1320510

Work by Brock Davis.

P1320531

Work by Brock Davis.

P1320533

Work by Brock Davis.

P1320536

Work by Brock Davis.

P1320551

Work by Jeff Gillette.

P1320560

Work by Jeff Gillette.

P1320573

Work by Lee Madgwick.

P1320581

Work by Paco Pomet.

P1320588

Work by Paco Pomet.

P1320607

Work by Dietrich Wagner.

P1320619

Work by Kate MacDowell.

P1320625

Work by Kate MacDowell.

P1320658

Work by Shadi Al Zaqzouq.

P1320710

Work by Neta Harari Navon.

P1320695

Work by Banksy.

P1320719

Work by Banksy.

P1320731

Work by Banksy.

P1320675

Work by Banksy.

P1320686

Work by Banksy.

P1320744

Work by Banksy.

P1320764

This piece by Jimmy Cauty took an entire room to itself and was one of the galleries highlights. The piece is entitled The Aftermath Dislocation Principle’ and features an entire town frozen in the moments following a period of civil unrest. This piece took a team of four people some 9 months to make, the pictures don’t do this intricate and delicately morbid handmade work justice.

P1320748

P1320783

The figure in red is the only female in the work and depicts Kate Middleton being protected by a large police detachment.

P1320777

This section represents the moment when the police state have lost the battle and has gone into exile.

P1320941

A very much standard pose from the staff at Dismaland.

P1320903

Whilst the images of Dismaland set amid the lovely blue skies showed earlier were more picturesque and pleasing on the eye, we feel it’s the images set amid a dull grey overcast sky that really offer the full Dismaland experience and effect.

P1320908

P1320923

P1320891

P1320942

Telling it like it is and the show comes to an end.

All in all an incredible show offering a diverse range of styles and art, set to the canon of subversive, mocking and downright humorous subject matters, that really make Dismaland a unique and fundamentally British experience. An absolute pleasure to attend and well worth the wait.

6 comments on “A Visit To Dismaland ‘Bemusement Park’

  1. Wow great coverage. And one in the eye for the sniffy critics who were disappointed. There was so much to see and thanks for taking so many pics for those who couldn’t get there. V glad you did.

    • Thanks Tanya, we read several poor reviews, we feel that perhaps with such a figure as Banksy, there will always be people who will praise anything he does and adversely those who hate everything. This was an exceptional and landmark show by ALL involved under his direction. There was also many more things we didn’t share for fear of making the post to long, a very well rounded show where no small detail had been missed. Really glad you enjoyed the post and we got to share our fortune in being able to get tickets.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s