Banksy’s South London pop-up store

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A new pop up shop has appeared in Croydon displaying some of Banksy’s hurriedly created wares. Its not wholly some new artistic theme (like Dismaland) but rather it has arisen as a result of a legal need to establish some counter challenges in regards to trademarks, but it does of course involve a good bit of Banksy’s work, and that is what has been delighting the many hundreds who have so far come to Croydon to visit his latest venture. Its a store ‘where art irritates life.’

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The main store frontage.

The pop up shop, known as the Gross Domestic Product, opened just a couple of days ago and is right by the Croydon tram lines – and the store will be open for two weeks – 24 hours a day. The store’s tag line is ‘Welcome to the next level in artist designed homewares – downwards.’

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Note describing the express purpose of the pop-up store.

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At night time – with a Wimbledon bound tram.

Its been a long time since Banksy had anything major in the public domain (besides the usual guerrilla artwork he undertakes – and which still pops up in the most unexpected places.) The last major endeavour the artist undertook was of course Dismaland at Weston-Super-Mare back in 2015.

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People admiring the displays in the windows at Banksy’s Croydon store.

The fact the pop-up besides a busy tramline and opposite Croydon’s premier market no doubt does the publicity good! Banksy probably didn’t think of these and beside he really does not need any publicity whenever any of his efforts make an appearance. But all the better because its a nice setting in a down to earth part of Croydon where there are still quite a few independent shops – and that is what makes the pop-up shop even more exciting – because it has a unique identity like these other stores and it makes a great addition to Church Street.

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The shop display begins with this old electronic cash register whose tray is now full of water and its overflowing into shopping baskets. Not to worry – these aren’t ever going to be used! Probably a commentary on the endless conveyor belt that’s capitalism…

The store itself is sited in a disused carpet shop (the gym above is still in use.) The displays are described by Banksy as being ‘impractical and offensive.’ One of the most notable works included a bullet proof jacket that had been worn by Stormzy.

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The ultimate baby mobile – to prepare the little ones for ‘a lifetime of constant scrutiny both state sanctioned and self imposed.’

I liked the above display with its subtle slant on surveillance and Big Brother. Of course this is one of the themes Banksy’s returned to again and again. The state, the repression of human rights and the rest of it.

Notices were up in the windows explaining that ‘the showroom is for display purposes only and the doors will not open.’ Nevertheless there were lots of people at the store, or rather, outside it as we must remember it is not open! In terms of paradoxes there’s another of those that people have not noticed….

And that is question of whether its a corner shop! Is it one of those? If it had been anything other than Banksy it could well have been a humble corner shop. Despite it not being a ‘corner shop,’ it is in fact a corner shop because its on a street corner! 🙂

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Clocks that feature the Banksy trademark – a rat – and these time pieces are said to ‘accurately mark our relentless and steady ticking towards the great unknown.’

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Cushions sourced from a charity shop – and specially stencilled for the Banksy pop-up store!

The mere fact that this store is something linked to Banksy has made the areea a very popular location, and the store, or rather the pavement outside (remember the shop isnt open) actually needs staff most of the day to watch over it and to answer questions anyone may have about the products on offer in the windows.

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It is said these are goldfish in a ‘futile pursuit of the unattainable.’ No surprise – they have been cast in high quality resin!

There are about eight staff in supervision and occasionally one brings out free stuff, generally the crisis poster, which I got. It’s been said fake money has also been distributed according to social media. I asked the staff if they had met their employer and they said they hadn’t! Remember only a few privileged people have met Banksy and despite some people claiming they have unmasked the famous artist, no-one is really the wiser as to who he is other than he is one of Bristol’s most famous people.

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TW: (Tiger Worn-ing.) A floor rug that looks a bit worse for wear!

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Much of that window display can be seen here. The painting on the far wall is ‘Duck and Cover.’

There is a queuing system and it took me about 40 minutes altogether for the queue itself and the actual viewing of the window displays. I was much slower than everyone else, they all passed me cos I was doing loads of photos and trying to get the best possible shots.

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Early Learning Counting Set: ‘Engage all your child’s learning muscles with this fun counting game…’ The full set includes a toy lorry and other pieces.

The trams are great but a sort of distraction unless one can combine shots of these with the pop up store. In hindsight it would have been a good idea if there had been a Banksy themed tram to complete the scene! Imagine the tram trundling past the store giving everyone a double helping of Banksy! Now that would have been something!

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Police! Police! A regular feature of Banksy’s work, these riot gear helmets appear to be discarded and not actually part of the Gross Domestic Products on offer…

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Bullet proof vest like that Stormzy wore at Glastonbury (‘because its very dangerous there.’)

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‘You have now reached your destination.’ A present for the person who has everything! Alas its a 230kg present they cant take with them!

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Not even Christ can help – this apparent crucifixion cross is in fact ‘a high tensile tactical support grappling hook made from an old wooden cross.’

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Another police riot gear helmet – except its been covered in small square mirror tiles. Banksy duly reminds everyone ‘smoke grenades’ are not available with the mirrored helmet.

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Just to recap… here’s the bullet proof vest, the police helmets and the gravestone once again!

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The all the police helmets, the gravestone and the high tensile tactical support grappling hook pictured here in their wholesome setting just so you know where they are exactly!

There more to it than just this stuff, there’s another window display to come. There are in fact five sets of window displays. The next one involves some more hardcore stuff including bricks, graffiti spray cans, dining sets and clothing with Banksy’s artworks printed on them.

Four of the diplays have been covered here. The fifth I decided to leave out as this post was getting quite lengthy – and I still wanted to include the staff who work there…

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The next window scene, and the bag seen here is made from a brick, and is ‘perfect for the person who doesn’t carry much but might need to whack someone in the face.’

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Banksy’s classic portait of a kid – and its immortalised on a wide screen TV. And a now favourite slogan – ‘Crisis as Usual.’

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The one with the screwed up Morrisey poster! It is said to celebrate the singer’s drift to the far right… And the spray cans – its a new product known as ‘Banksy Paint.’ Comes with a warning however – ‘Some contents may be missing!’ The crockery at the top? I’ll leave the product label to explain…

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This is the actual bit of the shop display that’s required for legal purposes! No matter – it spawned an entire store for everyone to come and enjoy – and some people will be able to buy the products in due course at Gross Domestic Products.

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Banksy’s online web store – opening soon! Products will start from £10 upwards.

I did read on social media there are other products on offer (online) that are not seen at the pop up shop. For example there’s toilet paper featuring the faces of face of Burmese military commanders responsible for the Rohingya atrocities. There too are other styles of clothes wear featuring other aspects of Banksy’s artwork. All will be revealed when the online store does commence business.

Earlier I mentioned there were quite a few staff present to watch over the store, make sure the queues worked, that people absolutely behaved themselves – and also answer any queries people may have had in regards to any of the products?

Well here are some portraits I did of the various staff! I don’t know their names but I asked if they could pose for my camera and these are the results. One may notice they all wear the typical brown overcoat that was the classic for many local shop staff (and even the big stores) in the old days. In terms of tradition Banksy’s truly honouring the good old days of the humble corner shop!

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Store guy out side the shop in Frith Road.

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Two of the store’s guys by the Gross Domestic Product sign.

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Two of the store’s gals and one of the guys by the Gross Domestic Product sign.

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And this one smiled and everyone looked and him and smiled too! Quite a candid shot.

(The guy on the right I captured his portrait a littler earlier – its the second one from the top.)

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