Banksy Just Made a Surprisingly Earnest Painting of a Superhero Nurse and Donated It to a British Hospital as a Morale Booster

The work will remain on view at the Southampton General Hospital until this fall, when it will go to auction.

Banksy's painting for the Southampton General Hospital called game changer (2020).
Banksy's painting for the Southampton General Hospital called Game Changer (2020).

Banksy has donated a painting to England’s Southampton General Hospital in an effort to raise the spirits of medical professionals working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

The painting, an uncharacteristic medium for the elusive street artist, shows a young boy playing with a superhero doll dressed as a nurse, complete with a mask and apron bearing the Red Cross symbol, and a cape fluttering behind her. Next to the child, a wastebasket holds castoffs, including Spider–Man and Batman figurines—outdated versions of superheroes in our new pandemic-stricken world.

The artist left a note with the special delivery, titled game changer, that read: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white.”

The hospital, which is the largest in the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust system, hosts coronavirus researchers, including those who are starting vaccine trials.

Speaking to the BBC, which first reported the news, hospital trust CEO Paula Head said: “It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital, as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art. It will no doubt also be a massive boost to morale for everyone who works and is cared for at our hospital.”

The work will remain on view in a foyer near the emergency department until this fall, at which point it will go up for auction to raise money for the National Health Service. And judging by recent history, it could be quite profitable. In late March, Sotheby’s held an online auction of Banksy’s works that netted $1.4 million, showing that buyers were undeterred by the economic downturn.

This isn’t the first time the anonymous artist has made work commenting on our isolated new realities. In April he showed off his new work-from-home life with a mural painted in his bathroom.


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