Banksy has already acknowledged painting several murals in war-ravaged Ukraine, but now the British street artist is making a monetary contribution to Ukraine’s near eight-month resistance against Russian invasion. “I’ve made 50 of these screenprints with all proceeds going to our friends in Ukraine,” wrote Banksy on his Instagram page on Saturday.
Each print, signed and numbered by the artist, will be available for £5000 (€5,812) to the 50 people drawn for the prize, meaning half a million pounds will be made available to the Legacy of War Foundation — an international charity providing support to civilians impacted by conflict. (Also Read | Banksy says fashion retailer Guess ‘helped themselves’ to their work, asks shoplifters ‘to do the same to their clothes’)
“In Ukraine I saw a Legacy of War team sweep in and provide medical attention, heaters, fresh water and a friendly face to some very desperate people in a bombed out building,” wrote Banksy on the Legacy of War Foundation site.
“With the funds raised from this print sale we will immediately be purchasing new ambulances and support vehicles,” Giles Duley, CEO of the foundation, wrote in a statement. “These are needed in Donbas for the continued evacuation of persons with disabilities, the elderly and civilian casualties,” he added of the need for support amid heavy fighting in Eastern Ukraine.
Banksy paying back for support in Ukraine
Banksy added an anecdote about his exploits in Ukraine, during which he posted an image of a gymnast doing a handstand on a war-damaged house, one of seven images he confirmed that he painted.
The gymnast mural, captioned “Borodyanka, Ukraine,” is named after a town outside Kyiv that was devastated by relentless shelling in the first months of the war.
The street artist recalled how Legacy of War Foundation workers lent him an ambulance to work from.
“[It] turned out to be extremely useful when an angry babushka found me painting on her building and called the police,” Banksy wrote. “I feel the least I should do is raise enough money to replace the number plates on the ambulance I hotted up.”
But Banksy is also using his art to tell the world a story of Russian invasion and Ukraine’s outsized resistance.
“This is such a historic moment for our country, that people like Banksy and other famous figures are coming here and showing the world what Russia has done to us,” said 31-year-old Alina Mazur from Kyiv at the site of the gymnast street artwork in November.
“It is a symbol that we are unbreakable,” 32-year-old Oleksiy Savochka said. “And our country is unbreakable.”
Fifty unique art works
Each copy of the rat on a pizza box print is framed and unique because Banksy personally made scratches on each with a pizza knife.
“Due to the fact the production process involves Banksy attacking every print with a sharpened pizza cutter — they are each unique and will differ slightly from the one pictured,” read a statement on the Legacy or War Foundation website.
Giles Duley of the foundation confirmed that the money will also help with energy infrastructure that is being constantly attacked by Russia.
“We will be sending generators, gas heaters and solar powered lights to communities who are facing the brutal winter without electricity,” he said. “And we will be able to continue our support for shelters in Kyiv for women and the LGBTQ community.”