I love living in Weston-super-Mare, I know the place gets bad press, in the way most seaside resort towns do – people say it’s run-down, full of bad types, nothing to do, a beach of mud etc…. but I love it! I was more than happy to settle here with my husband when I left the RAF in 2012, to be living 10 minutes away from a couple of great beaches, close to Bristol and on the doorstep of the some of the most beautiful parts of this country, with Somerset, Devon and Cornwall within easy reach. So when Banksy chose the unused Tropicana outdoor pool on Weston seafront to be the home to his latest pop-up exhibition Dismaland, I was slightly excited, to say the least – this is the biggest thing to have happened to Weston-super-Mare since the old pier burnt down in 2008, and has got people from all over the world talking about our little seaside town, even bringing such stars as Brad Pitt, Jack Black and Jon Taylor of Duran Duran (my teenage crush!!) to Weston. To think that Brad Pitt now knows where Weston is just blows my mind! Banksy has curated hundreds of pieces of art from more than 50 different artists from across the world, to have so many pieces of superb work, in such a small area, just minutes from my house is just superb.
A few months ago I was driving along the seafront, past the old Tropicana, as I often do, and noticed there was some building work going on up on the roof. Now the state and future of the Tropicana, which closed down a couple of decades ago, is a constant topic of conversation in this town, with people constanly nagging the local Council to get it back up and running. So to see work going on inside, I was intrigued. Local social media groups and online forums began to talk, especially when some caravans appeared on a sports pitch in town, and the story appeared that the Tropicana was to be used as a set for a crime thriller film by the production company “Grey Fox” and the caravans were crew accommodation. Over the next few months things began to appear over the top of the Tropicana, a truck sculpture, ferris wheel and a horse made out of scaffolding – and we all began to wonder “what kind of film set is this??” Then, mid-august the rumour hit that it was a Banksy Exhibition called Dismaland – people linked to Banksy had been seen around the Tropicana, and there were also link between “Grey Fox” and Banksy and Dismaland. The local paper, The Weston Mercury were given a hammering in the social media for (apparently) not knowing what was going on, and then finally they were allowed to break their silence and reveal the massive secret that they’d had to keep, and had the honour of officially revealing to the world that Banksy, the local boy from Bristol, was definitely coming to Weston, and had returned to the Tropicana, where he used to spend his summer holidays. The Mercury were also able to give away 1000 free tickets to a special “locals only” day before the place was opened to the general public – I was gutted that I was working away that day! I managed to get down there 3 days after it opened (in the very appropriately dismal pouring rain) and was blown away by the work there. My images don’t do it justice, and if you’ve been fortunate enough to visit, then you’ll know what I mean – the atmosphere is indescribable and everywhere you look there is something to catch your eye, and maybe make you stop and think. I went back again the following week with my husband, to see it at night, superb. Enjoy the photos below, and if you want to see my full galley please visit http://www.heidiburtonphotography.co.uk/Images/Banksy-Dismaland-WSM
And If you want to have a look at Banksys Death on a dodgem piece, you can view a video here: https://youtu.be/K9s30bXQkqs