In response to the confused situation of Brexit, the Bristol Museum once again puts on display “Devolved Parliament” by British artist Banksy just in time for Brexit day. “Devolved Parliament” portrays politicians of the House of Commons as arguing chimpanzees.
Although it was created ten years ago in the context of the exhibition “Banksy versus Bristol Museum”, the painting “Devolved Parliament” seems to reflect the Brexit stalemate perfectly. On Wednesday, March 27th, 2019, the British House of Commons wanted to reach a decision on how to proceed with Brexit. The aim was actually to give the government some direction. They could not decide on a Brexit scenario. And although Friday was supposed to be the day Britain and the EU part ways for good, nothing happened.
In 2009, Banksy exhibited his largest painting to date at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery: “Devolved Parliament.” He populated the boardroom in the House of Commons with chimpanzees. “I’ve drawn 100 chimpanzees and they still call me a guerilla artist,” Banksy said when the painting “Devolved Parliament” was exhibited in 2009. The message of the picture is as current then as it is today: the politicians in the British parliament are losing control.
The title “Devolved Parliament” originally referred to a development in the UK Constitution, which has allowed regional parliaments in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland to decide on regional issues in 1998. Before then, every law passed through parliament in Westminster. The reinterpretation of the painting in light of the Brexit debate exposes the ambiguity of the picture.
While Banksy’s spokeswoman has called the piece “massively relevant” to the Parliament’s current political climate, she noted that its reemergence is “not a comment on Brexit by Banksy by any means but it is a timely unveiling of the museum having it on show.”
Devolved Parliament will be up for display at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery until August 2019.