Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have, by now heard of Banksy and his proliferation of art installations all over the world.
From Bristol to Palestine New Orleans, Banksy stencil or graffiti art is liable to appear just about anywhere.
Banksy, of course, is famous for certain pieces and, in our opinion, top of that list has to be Girl with Balloon or Balloon girl as it tends also be known.
In fact, the original name for the piece as it appeared on a wall on Waterloo Bridge, London around 2002 was know as ‘There is always Hope’.
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Without some input directly from Banksy in relation to Balloon Girl, it will be forever open to interpretation.
Such is the personal joy of art. In general, from art, it evokes something different in everyone who sees it, be it nostalgia, a sense of loss or love.
You can try to find meaning for Girl with Balloon on several levels, depending on how deep you want to analyse it.
On the surface it’s still a stunning, whimsical piece of stencil art. Our girl, with her hair blowing in the wind appears to have lost her balloon to that same wind.
As the father of two very young children, I have witnessed the absolute hysteria that goes with losing a balloon in an open place.
For my children, it is like the end of the world. However, our Balloon Girl, doesn’t seem too perturbed but possibly it’s her understanding that ‘There is Always Hope’ and all is not lost.
On another level, the colour palette used in Girl with Balloon has often reminded me of the movie Schlinder’s List by Steven Spielberg from 1994.
If you are familiar with the movie you will know it is predominantly filmed in black and white with the sole use of colour being the scenes of the beautiful young girl in her red coat.
She is such a beacon of colour and innocence in such horrific times.
Returning to the Balloon Girl in question, the colour pallet is just as stark yet packs a punch.
The girl is spray painted in grey/black tones while the heart-shaped balloon is painted in vibrant red much like the Schindler’s List girl but reversed in this case.
In this instance I like to think that the girl, has in fact, released the balloon and in so doing hasn’t ‘lost’ something but is instead bestowing a gift to the world, that of Schindler’s Girl in the Red Coat.
To the beholder, a heart-shaped balloon floating through the sky will mean different things.
For those who have lost a loved one it may gift them strength, for those are out of love it can signify that love may yet come their way.
But, in general, such a balloon would certainly lift the spirits of those who would see such a thing and ‘There is Always Hope’ has another meaning just here.
According to Wikipedia, In July 2017, a Samsung poll of 2,000 people from the United Kingdom asked participants to rank twenty pieces of British art.
The poll’s results listed Balloon Girl as the people’s number one favourite artwork. So, incredibly and unarguably this is Banksy most famous work.
The stature of the piece has grown over the years.
From the early installations throughout London, Balloon Girl morphed into the ‘Flying Balloon Girl’ in 2005 when depicted on the West Bank barrier attempting the levitate above the wall and ‘freedom’ beyond.
In 2014 The Girl appeared as a Syrian Girl with headscarf version in order to raise awareness of the 3-year conflict raging in the region.
Of course, we cannot talk about the Balloon Girl without mentioning the high profile incident at a Sotheby’s auction in October 2018.
One of Banksy’s 2006 framed prints was up for auction.
Shortly after the closing bid the piece started to shred itself.
An in-built shredding mechanism had been installed at some point and seems to have been remotely triggered to coincide with the closing of the auction.
Images and a video later appear on Banksy’s Instagram, initially with the caption ‘Going, going, gone…”
From the video above, it appears that Banksy himself or an agent of the man himself, may have been at auction and pressed the button to start the process.
This was later confirmed by his agents ‘Pest Control’.
Following the event, a new artwork name was coined, Love is in the Bin.
In recent times, some well-know celebrities have chosen to ink our beloved Balloon Girl on his arm.
One such person is of course Justin Bieber and Banksy took to social media to air his disgust and in so doing proving he is at least not a Belieber.
Respect to the main man from ‘Massive Attack’. 😉
To be fair to the tattoo artist who did the piece, it looks quite good just a shame it’s Justin really.
Anyway, have a google and see if you can come across some other variations you might like to tattoo on your skin.