Banksy & Childhood

As told through three works
September 28, 2023
Banksy & Childhood

In several of Banksy’s works, children are portrayed amidst a background of societal unrest and political turmoil. These artworks showcase the stark contrast between the innocence associated with childhood and the harsh realities of the world. Banksy often employs imagery of children armed with weapons, juxtaposing symbols of innocence with elements of violence.This symbolism highlights the way societal norms and restrictions can transform innocence into rebellion and even violence. Amidst the stark realities Banksy often depicts, he also celebrates the boundless imagination and escapism inherent in childhood

Jack and Jill - Vulnerability and Protection 

Named after the English nursery rhyme of the same name, the powerful work can be placed within the artist’s wider notions of society, the establishment and subversion of expectations. Childhood vulnerability, a recurring motif in many of the artist’s works, features heavily in the piece. The focus of the artwork are two children, a boy and girl, who are holding hands and appear to be skipping into the foreground and towards the viewer. With beaming smiles full of joy, the girl holds a traditional wicker basket full of flowers. Shattering the illusion of peace we notice the Kevlar jackets that are emblazoned with the word “POLICE” that powerfully sit above the children’s typical clothing.  Why the vests? An unknown threat is brought into the picture creating an immediate tension within the viewer. Contrasting with the smiles and youth of the subjects, we eerily wonder what the children need protecting from. Is it the outside, wicked world where the viewer inhabits? Could it be that the children will soon become adults, their views and nativity soon to be destroyed? As always, Banksy paints a powerful image that we alone are left to decipher.


Banksy, Police Kids (Jack and Jill), 2005

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Girl with Balloon - Loss and Innocence

As with many of the elusive artist’s pieces it communicates a raw and powerful message that belies the simple imagery. First appearing as street murals across London in 2002, the work famously was graffitied in Waterloo Bridge with the caption “there is always hope” amongst other locations in the city. In our latest blog we explore the meaning of the work, its history and popularity. Between 2004/2005 the work was released by Pictures on Walls as a signed edition of 150  and an unsigned edition of 600. Proving instantly popular with collectors, the work captures the stencil style of graffiti that Banksy became renowned for.

On examining the work, the viewer is immediately drawn to both the figure of the young girl and the balloon. The red balloon, a symbol of childhood and innocence, floats just out of reach from the girl whose hair, like the balloon, is carried in the wind. A sense of duality inhabits the piece and the “message” of the work can be interpreted in two ways. Does the work show the loss of hope and innocence or is the girl reaching out, eagerly waiting to receive a love that she so desperately craves? Instantly relatable and inherently human, the work has come to symbolise the artist and his style.

As well as the signed and unsigned red versions of Girl With Balloon, there also exist a number of other colour print versions including: Girl With Balloon Colour AP (Purple) and Girl With Balloon Colour AP (Gold). Both AP versions are extraordinarily rare and belong to editions of 88.


Banksy, Girl with Balloon (Signed), 2005


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NOLA - Frustration and Anger

NOLA (also known as Umbrella Girl) is one of Banksy’s most desirable and iconic works, existing as a street art piece, work on canvas and in limited edition print formats. Created as a series of 14 street art works in 2008 in the Marigny district of New Orleans as a critical thrust towards the Bush administration’s response to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, NOLA beautifully blends poignant imagery with cutting wit.

It is reported that the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Katrina took more than 1800 lives and cost over 42 billion USD. However, the reality and after effects of Hurricane Katrina paint a far bleaker picture. The loss of historic areas, the devastation of communities and a damning indictment of race and government in 21st century America. 

NOLA shows a frustrated young girl (representing innocence and powerlessness) who is attempting to shield herself from a storm and rainfall. However, the rain itself is not coming from the outside but is emanating from the very umbrella that she needs for her protection. Reaching out from underneath the umbrella and realising the rain is on the inside, she shows a confused and shocked expression. The expression worn by the little girl can be read as a direct representation of the people of New Orleans. Abandoned by the system, they are angry, confused and frustrated. 

NOLA was released as a limited edition series of prints in 2008 by Pictures on Walls in a series of different colourways. The artist also produced a smaller run of NOLAs with neon yellow rain and neon orange rain to sell directly to collectors. Finally,  a set of extremely limited NOLA AP (Artist Proof) print runs with 6 different multi-hued rain colorways were released directly to VIP collectors.


Banksy Nola White Rain - signed print

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Banksy’s exploration of childhood in his artworks is multifaceted and profound. By juxtaposing innocence with societal issues, weaponising symbols of youth, and presenting children as agents of change, he offers a poignant commentary on the complexities of childhood. His pieces also shed light on the potential loss of innocence and the boundless imagination that characterise this phase of life. Through his distinctive lens, Banksy invites viewers to reflect on childhood’s vulnerabilities and potentials, challenging societal norms and sparking conversations about the world we are shaping for future generations.

Discover our collection of Banksy signed prints for sale or explore our original Banksy paintings for sale and contact Andipa Editions via or call +44 (0)20 7589 2371.

About the author

Alex Yellop