Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Dismaland, Weston-super-Mare

Dismaland entrance and queue!
I have grown up around Weston-super-Mare, it is where I went to school and where I went to college, it is where I have met some of my closest friends. When I heard that Banksy - a notorious Bristolian street artist - had opened an "amusement park" in the towns derelict Tropicana, I was intrigued. I know very little about art, so I won't act like I do, but I still like to look at pretty things. We decided to wait a couple of weeks after opening to miss the initial queues - this meant we were able to buy tickets for a specific time slot. We arrived at 7pm, as our ticket stated, to find there was a 50 minute queue of people who had done the same thing - the initial excitement had not declined!

David Cameron Art Work
When we finally reached the front of the queue we entered another queue, this time in three lines – allowing us to pass through the "Dismal security". One of the security officers was shouting at us for not joining a smaller queue – accusing us of “enjoying queuing”. This offended my mother instantly and she could not understand why there was "the need for such an attitude”. We had to explain that this is what they were hired to do - be dismal! My brother was not allowed to pass through security until he had put his hoodie hood up!

Toy boats filled with models of
One of the happiest park attendants
Once we got inside there was more evidence of the Dismal theme – with depressed park attendants all looking like they were having the worst day of their lives! My father and brother were already in the Dismal mood after the long queue and what we found inside did not lighten their spirits. The place was designed to be as depressing as possible – to the point it wasn’t depressing, but instead funny. Cinderella’s castle looked like it had been caught in an arson attack, tables to eat food were surrounded by puddles and the Ferris wheel looked like it could fall over at any minute.

Miniature Town
The ballerina trucks by Mike Ross
We walked round, looking at notable structures along the way, such as the two trucks in a ballerina pose by Mike Ross and the carousel with the horse meat butcher making lasagnes – another one of Banksy’s clever references to social scandals. Next to this we found the tiny boats filled with immigrants, with many face down in the water. The public could control and drive the boats and there was even a warship with a machine gun on the front. We headed past the lady being attacked by birds into the viewing gallery. This was where the standard art gallery made its appearance with pictures that touched on all of society. At the very end of the gallery was a model toy village with miniature people and cars. The Dismal park attendants here were in their prime – shouting at people for taking too long to look at the model and laughing at those taking pictures.

The carousel in full spin

Cinderella and her Papparazzi
After leaving the gallery, nightfall had arrived and the park began to glow – unfortunately for Banksy, making it look a little bit happier. We walked past the attendant who was running a stand where, if you could knock over an anvil with a ping pong ball, you could win the anvil, and headed towards the castle. The queue was huge – around the entire park.
Cinderella's Castle

After we finally reached the entrance of the castle an old TV was playing the end of Cinderella – where she marries the Prince and drives off to live “Happily Ever After”. Once we finally got inside there was only one piece of work, which the entire castle was built to house. Cinderella fallen from her carriage – her outlook looking grave and instead of helping her, there was paparazzi photographing her. It was a strong resemblance to the sad end of the late Princess Diana. Even my Dismal father had to appreciate that piece of art.

We left, feeling a bit sad, like our evening had been a touch depressing. But isn’t that the point – to  leave feeling Dismal?

My Father and I outside Cinderella's Castle

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