The elusive artist has set up a surprise installation in the rapper’s Croydon hometown
Stormzy’s set at this year’s Glastonbury will go down in history, in part because it was unequivocally one of the best headline slots ever at the festival, but also because of his political attire: a Union Jack stab-proof vest designed by none other than Banksy. Now, the iconic item has mysteriously appeared in London, as part of a surprise installation by the elusive artist.
In footage obtained by the Independent, a shop front containing various Banksy artworks has popped up in Croydon – Stormzy’s hometown – emblazoned with the words ‘Gross Domestic Product™’. The work reportedly appeared in a derelict site beneath a PureGym on Saturday (September 28).
Through the shop windows, a number of rooms can be seen: one features blue wallpaper with clouds, and contains a baby’s crib with CCTV cameras pointing at it; another appears to house several of the same clock, one of which is also spray painted onto a black box on the street; a bigger room is painted red, and features idiosyncratic house furnishings, including a flattened Tony the Tiger rug that looks like it was plucked straight out of Banky’s Dismaland. The last two rooms feature Stormzy’s stab vest, a grave with flowers in front of it, which reads, ‘You have now reached your destination’, and what looks like a TV featuring the artist’s 2018 “Season’s Greetings” artwork.
Excitement levels in #Croydon this morning are NEXT LEVEL! A #Banksy installation has appeared at the end of Surrey Street (under the @PureGym). 5 windows (and counting) of work from one of the most important artists of our time on display on our doorstep 🙌 #EastCroydonCoolpic.twitter.com/h2RfbhtbN2— East Croydon Cool (@EastCroydonCool) October 1, 2019
Stormzy’s vest comes with an explainer that reads: “A version of the ‘John Bull’ English gents waistcoat updated for modern times. This customised body armour is capable of stopping bullets up to .45 calibre and is fully stab proof. As worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury Festival (because it’s very dangerous there). Yet not machine washable (sic). Signed. Edition of five plus two A/P.” The note also includes a link to the website, grossdomesticproduct.com, which simply shows the message: “hello gdp3.”
Banksy revealed himself to be the artist behind Stormzy’s vest the day after the rapper’s headline performance, writing on Instagram: “I made a customised stab-proof vest and thought – who could possibly wear this? Stormzy at Glastonbury.” Stormzy then screenshotted the artist’s post and shared it on Twitter with the caption: “Absolutely fucking speechless.”
It’s unclear yet how long Banksy’s installation has been in Croydon, or how long it will be up, but if you’re in the area, it’s bound to be worth a visit.
Watch a video of the installation on the Independent here.
Update (4PM): Banksy has posted an update about the installation on his Instagram, writing: “This showroom is for display purposes only. I’m opening a shop today (although the doors don’t actually open). It’s in Croydon. Probably best viewed at night.” One of the photos posted to his IG includes a flyer which explains the meaning behind the shop in full. “GDP is the homewares brand from Banksy,” the poster reads, “and this is our first and only store. All sales will be conducted online when the website opens soon.”
The elusive artist reveals that the showroom (which will only exist for a few weeks) and upcoming online store are the result of legal action. “A greeting cards company are trying to seize legal custody of the name Banksy from the artist, who has been advised the best way to prevent this is to sell his own range of branded merchandise. So here it is – we hope to offer something for everyone, prices start from £10 but availability will be limited.”
See Banksy’s full post below.