A new Banksy artwork paying tribute to National Health Service workers has turned up at Southampton General Hospital in England. The painting, titled Game Changer (2020), was delivered to the hospital along with a note 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 houses a significant testing facility that is currently running trials on potential Covid-19 vaccines.
The painting, a departure for the street artist who is better-known for his prints and wall tags, depicts a young boy playing with a toy nurse bedecked in a face mask, fluttering cape, and Red Cross emblem (the only color in the artwork). In the background, Batman and Spider-Man figurines have been discarded in a wastebasket.
Paula Head, the chief executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS foundation trust, told the BBC, “The fact that Banksy has chosen us to recognize the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honor,” adding, “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.”
According to a spokesperson for Banksy, the work will be on view in a hallway near the hospital’s emergency department until this fall, when it will head to auction to raise funds for the NHS. Banksy originals have fetched millions of dollars at past auctions. In March, a Sotheby’s online auction of Banksy prints netted $1.4 million.
This is the second new Banksy piece to appear during lockdown. The first, featuring graffitied rats running amok in his bathroom, was revealed on Instagram by the artist, along with the caption “My wife hates it when I work from home.”