Healthcare workers around the world have been risking their lives to treat patients with coronavirus. And this week, frontline workers at a U.K. hospital got an unexpected “thank you.”
The anonymous artist Banksy made a new painting for Southampton General Hospital that “appeared” this week, according to the BBC. It’s a rather unique work for the street artist, considering he didn’t spray paint the work on a wall but painted it on a one-square-meter canvas.
The grayscale painting depicts a boy playing with a doll that he’s lifted above his head. The doll itself is an NHS nurse, wearing a face mask and an apron with the Red Cross logo. Batman and Superman figurines have been deposited in a wastebasket nearby, making way for a role model that, while lacking special powers or mythic origin stories, is the real superhero.
It wasn’t clear how exactly the painting was delivered to the hospital, but it was accompanied by a note that read: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.” Banksy also posted the image to his Instagram with the caption, “Game Changer.”
The work is on view at the hospital until the fall, when it will be put on auction to raise money for the U.K.’s National Health Service, which has faced budget cuts over the past several years. If an online auction of Banksy’s work in March is any indication, the painting should have no trouble selling for a hefty sum, economic downturn or no.
The heartfelt painting (in contrast to his most recent work) does seem to have raised the spirits of hospital staff. Paula Head, CEO of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, told the BBC, “It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital, as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art.”