Whistler has just increased its uniqueness quotient.
In addition to having a luxury alpine village built on a garbage dump and so many Australians that it seems like a suburb of Sydney, it now can call itself home to an original art work by English street artist Banksy.
The work is called Bombing Middle England. The graffiti-style work isn’t in a traditional art gallery. It’s in a street-fashion clothing store called Jonathan+Olivia in Whistler Village.
The art went up just before Christmas said Nic Jones, who co-runs the store with his wife, Jackie O’Brien Jones. He wouldn’t say how much it’s worth.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a great piece. We’re not selling it. It’s to stay in the space and be on display in Whistler for a long time.”
Banksy is an artist who has never been officially identified. He has grown to worldwide prominence for his work, which can be political and humorous.
In 2007, an acrylic-and-spray-paint version of Bombing Middle England, which shows pensioners bowling with bombs instead of bowling balls, sold at Sotheby’s in London for the equivalent in Canadian dollars of $134,000. At the time, it was a record for a work by Banksy.
The work is considered similar to Anarchic Granny, a cartoon of a granny bowling with a bomb by Toronto artist Cinders McLeod.
In October of last year, another work by Banksy called Girl With Balloon self-destructed moments after it was sold at an auction for US$1.4 million ($1.8 million Cdn).
The version of Bombing Middle England in Whistler was originally made in 2003 for Surface to Air, a Parisian streetwear store of which Jones was a founding partner. Banksy created the work on a concrete wall in the basement of the store when he was in Paris for the exhibition Graffiti, Lies & Deviousness.
When Surface to Air moved to a new location, Bombing Middle England was removed and placed in storage, where it has remained for about 12 years.
The picture is on the surface of a rectangular chunk of concrete, 2.1 metres by 61 centimetres. It weighs 114 kilograms.
Jones said installing the Banksy work is part of the couple’s efforts to be part of the unique Whistler community.
“We want this as a little something to add to all the crazy stuff that’s up here already in Whistler,” he said by phone.
Jonathan+Olivia is named after Jackie’s niece and nephew. The store is on Art Gallery Row downstairs from Mountain Square. Jonathan+Olivia carries fashion by brands such as Maison Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens Drkshdw.
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