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Plymouth artist Neil Mawdsley    Plymouth U.K.      Email: neil@mawdsley.co.uk
               
internet, our shorter ticket queue was only waiting about an hour or so to enter. Banksy’s ‘Dismaland Bemusement Park’ was the old run down holidaymakers Tropicana amusement park that he had somehow secretly transformed over a six month period. Firstly we had to go through a ‘Customs’ search of course, where cardboard scanners, cardboard screens, cardboard x ray scanners made sure we were OK to enter! All the attendants inside Dismaland were deliberately off-hand and unhelpful, as we expected, which made us smile when some might have expected “Have a nice day, Sir” Of course it was a poke at commercialised Pleasure Parks such as Disney, but there was much more to this. There were 50 top artists from 17 countries showing weird and wonderful installations.  Like the weather the artworks were raw and not for everyone, but there was a feeling of the real world here, no holds barred to get the message through, refreshing, controversial and hard hitting. For anyone who called themselves an artist it was like a purging, cleansing of the chocolate box world I for one can easily drift into. The only sanctuary on site from the mind-bending exhibits was the ‘home made Pizza tent’ where a good cup of coffee was also available. We spent a good three hours wandering round. Everywhere the expected became unexpected. Some might have found it all disturbing, especially the toy boat - lake with refugees tightly packed in dinghies and figures in the water. For me, that was the most moving exhibit. There was also a freak show tent with a Damien Hirst Unicorn. Indoors there was Jimmy Cautys’ whole Toy village model in chaos, overrun by 3000 toy riot police, all with flashing lights. incredible paintings were on show. There were subjects  such as rebels with guns, deforestation, designer babies, junk food, Polar melting canvases, waste exhibits, endangered sea creatures, a tree house mushroom cloud, the grim reaper on the dodgems, a torture shed, seagulls stealing  chips, an outdoor cinema and of course plenty of graffiti! I could list all the artists and installations but it’s already on the Internet in detail and my photos above. So what did I get from all this? Well, it was worth the visit. It was quite often a disturbing raw message from artists showing what they think is happening to our world now and in the future. It was art at its best or you might think at its worst. It was as a challenge, a warning. I think it showed that these artists cared, were moved to go to such lengths to lay-bare their take on the issues facing our blue planet.  Sometimes it screamed ‘Hey, look, don’t you see this!’  There was some dark humour as well. Social, radical issues could make a politician feel uneasy here. So has my present artwork been affected now that I am back home warm and surrounded by my art clutter? Not much perhaps, but I know that there is a place for art to get uncomfortable. I have tried myself over the years to sometimes develop this side of art when I have been moved by a social issue.  My artwork connected with the Lottery odds of winning, Incineration and pollution, badgers and the effect of modern culture on our children. All this courts controversy but sometimes needs expressing and showing.  I also think that there is a place for art to be justifiably at ease, where beauty can be uplifting, pleasing as an antidote to a world of inner and outer conflict. The Tamar Valley has such a sublime quality for an artist, particularly in its upper reaches, the remarkable beauty of the natural landscape which contrasts with parts of the lower Tamar valleys where weapons of warfare are created and housed in the buildings and hangers of the dockyard area.  These days I often toil to develop more abstract work by experimenting, puzzling it out with paint, to create something worthwhile. My art journey from start to finish is often unexpected and intuition plays a major part and of course memories such as my day at Dismaland.

Dismaland  Bemusement  Park, Weston-Super-Mare.

My ‘Artists Detox Experience’

A visit to the Banksy exhibition Sept 2015

  We queued for ages, on a grey morning in Weston-Super-Mare. Oddly this in itself was an exciting experience, to see such an international mix of people all waiting to see what, something arty? Surely not! People from around the world were waiting here in their thousands just for art? It was new to me and rather moving, to think that a bunch of creatives could harness such a response. Well it was Banksy after all! My daughter who lives in Somerset had somehow bargained for tickets earlier in the day. Amazing that it can all be done from a phone!  Having purchased tickets on the