In a wide-ranging interview with journalist Eleanor Mills, artist Banksy reveals he has been wandering around Dismaland incognito, gauging visitor reactions to his

art-theme-park extravaganza. The article was first published in the Sunday Times,

30 August 2015 and the full, unabridged version can be read here.

 

Dismaland brochure by Banksy featuring Ben Long Horse Scaffolding Sculpture

 

Eleanor Mills: Why does the world need Dismaland? What inspired you to create it?

 

Banksy: It's an experiment in offering something less resolved than the average theme park. For some reason it's been labelled as 'twisted' but I've never called it that. We just built a family attraction that acknowledges inequality and impending catastrophe. I would argue it's theme parks which ignore these things that are the twisted ones.

 

Eleanor Mills: What were your criteria for the artists you included? How did you find them? Have you met and spoken to these artists?

 

Banksy: I approached all the artists myself by email. Only two of them turned me down.

 

Eleanor Mills: I am interested that this show is on such a grand scale – are you still a Street Artist?

 

Banksy: This is not a street art show. It's modelled on those failed Christmas parks that pop up every December – where they stick some antlers on an Alsatian dog and spray fake snow on a skip. It's ambitious, but it's also crap. I think there's something very poetic and British about all that.

 

Eleanor Mills: Is Dismaland something you will repeat? Could it become a permanent attraction? Given the huge demand, would you extend the run?

 

Banksy: I can't extend the run because of technical calculations. We have tall structures which have been built and certified for one weather period. It gets windy there and we're not insured for one minute past the last day of September.

 

Eleanor Mills: What has been the best thing about opening your Bemusement park, and the worst? I know you expected people to be shocked, but they don't seem to be... has the reaction been different to what you expected?

 

Banksy: The first day I wandered round with the public I have to admit there was no-one more disappointed than me. I think the whole concept might be flawed. By repackaging an art show as an amusement park everybody's expectations are raised substantially. The branding writes a cheque that the event doesn't cash. I was there looking at Ben Long's sculpture of a horse constructed from scaffolding, a piece that if it was shown in the V&A alongside other sculptures would be remarkable, but the lady next to me asked her husband 'Does it do anything?' I suddenly realised the whole premise was wrong, I'd pushed it too far and it had gone from being a pretty good art show to a very sub-standard amusement park. I mean, who stands in the Tate looking at a Henry Moore asking – does it do anything?

 

Eleanor Mills: Tell us a bit about the process of making Dismaland, when did you first get the idea? How long have you been down there making things?

 

Banksy: It's been six months for a handful of us. And it's hard to stay focussed – we spent three weeks carving the foam wheels for Cinderella's carriage and nobody notices them at all. It took another month getting the remote control boats to float after I overloaded them with people.

 

Eleanor Mills: What do you mean by "I am an Imbecile" balloons – is that patronising to your visitors? Do you look down on mass popular culture?

 

Banksy: You'd have to ask David Shrigley what those balloons mean – he made them. All I know is I smiled at the thought of a seven year old clutching one on the train as they made their way home.