Banksy to auction Southampton hospital painting for the NHS

It has been hailed as "an image of hope"

Banksy is auctioning off a painting he created last year to celebrate the health workers of the UK during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Game Changer appeared at Southampton General Hospital in May 2020, and depicts a young boy playing with a nurse doll who is seen fitted with a cape, an apron and a protective face mask. Next to the boy is a basket that contains discarded Batman and Spider-Man dolls.

Now, the anonymous street art icon is auctioning the original canvas to raise funds for the NHS, with a reproduction of the work to permanently remain in the hospital.

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The painting has received a pre-sale estimate of between £2.5 to £3.5million at Christie’s.

The renowned auction house hailed the painting for offering “an image of hope” and said it represents a “personal tribute to those who continue to turn the tide of the pandemic”.

Christies’ Katherine Arnold said: “Game Changer is a universal tribute to all those fighting worldwide on the front line of this crisis.

“The work pays tribute to the strength and resilience of those who have demonstrated true leadership throughout the pandemic, the staff of our vital NHS.”

Last week saw Banksy confirm that an artwork that mysteriously appeared on the side of  Reading prison was his own creation.

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The mural, which emerged last Monday (March 1), shows a prisoner – resembling famous inmate Oscar Wilde – escaping from the prison using a rope fashioned from bedsheets tied to a typewriter.

It marked the latest in a series of murals Banksy has unveiled since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

He headed back to his native Bristol in December 2020 to create an artwork of a woman sneezing out her false teeth.

In October 2020, the elusive artist also confirmed he was behind a mural depicting a girl hula-hooping with a tyre which appeared in Lenton, Nottingham.

Earlier in the year, he spray painted graffiti artwork on a London Underground train with rats pictured sneezing across the carriage and wearing face masks.

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