New Banksy artwork ‘a morale boost’, say hospital staff

Staff at a hospital have spoken of their pride and the morale boosting effect of being chosen to host the latest artwork by Banksy.

The piece, entitled Game Changer, is now on view to staff and patients on Level C of Southampton General Hospital.

It shows a boy dressed in dungarees playing with a nurse superhero toy, with figures of Batman and Spiderman in a wastepaper basket next to him on the floor.

New artwork by Banksy
New artwork by Banksy

The nurse, wearing a cape, face mask and a white apron featuring a red cross, has her arm raised as if she is flying.

Banksy left a note for hospital workers, saying: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”

Paula Head, chief executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, told the PA news agency: “All the staff have described this painting and the impact it’s had on the hospital as joyous, it has made a huge difference to the morale of the hospital and the people who are woking in here.

New Banksy artwork pays tribute to NHS heroes
New Banksy artwork pays tribute to NHS heroes

“As we say, we are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and now we have got something extraordinary to look at as well.”

She continued: “One of our ED (emergency department) nurses looked at the picture for a couple of minutes and then said, ‘This two minutes reflecting on this painting means I can go back and do the shift’.

“This is the impact it’s having on a group of staff who have found it really tough through this period of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I caught somebody’s face looking at the picture, and her face said everything, it had wonder, awe, poignancy, sadness and pleasure, joy.”

New Banksy artwork pays tribute to NHS heroes
New Banksy artwork pays tribute to NHS heroes

Ms Head added: “We don’t know why this place was chosen but obviously we are absolutely thrilled it was and we believe that we are a hospital that deserves a Banksy because we are an absolutely amazing place to work and our teams are phenomenal.”

Explaining the chosen location, she said: “The reason for this location is because it’s part of a thoroughfare in the hospital where we knew there were lots of people who would see it as part of their daily working lives and that was important to us as it’s a moment to stop in a busy life, reflect, connect back to humanity through art and carry on feeling a little bit more positive in the day.”

Humphrey Hardless, reporting radiographer, from Southsea, Hampshire, told PA: “The artwork is a touching and respectful nod to all the work being done by the health service in these times. To have it up in our hospital is a morale boost.

“I think people are visiting it and are given a moment to pause and be proud of what the health service is achieving.”

After lockdown measures are lifted, the piece – which is approximately one metre high and one metre wide – will be put on public display.

It will then be auctioned to raise money for NHS charities, a spokeswoman for Banksy confirmed.