Update: Over 200 people, many from war-torn countries, seeking refugee status in Europe have been rescued from the artist Banksy’s ship after it drifted in the Mediterranean off the coast of Sicily. The Louise Michel transferred the passengers to another humanitarian ship, when the deck became overcrowded, while others were helped by the Italian Coastguard. One of the refugees was reported to have died on the boat.
The elusive ‘Street Artist’ Banksy has put his money where his mouth is by funding a rescue boat to help save refugees in dangerous situations in the Mediterranean.
On a boat named the Louise Michel, bought from proceeds earned by the artist’s bumper year selling a number of works in excess of the million mark, Banksy has done the right thing by sticking to his core values donating to the refugee crisis.
Last year Banksy wrote to Sea-Watch captain Pia Klemp offering to aid their mission. “I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” the artist told Klemp, which was reported in the Guardian. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know.”
The boat has already carried out a number of rescue missions, taking on board 89 people from a rubber boat on Tuesday, according to its Twitter account.
The robust vessel features sprayed pink graffiti art and a stencil painting depicting a young girl holding on to a heart-shaped safety float. Banksy customised the former French Navy boat in white and pink and launched it last week.
The Louise Michel was named after a 19th Century French anarchist and is crewed by a professional seamen and women activists who all follow a vegan diet”.
The Boat’s mission statement is “to uphold maritime law and rescue anyone in peril without prejudice”. “We on board the Louise Michel believe we are all individuals, nationality should not make a difference to what rights one has and how we treat each other,” it says on its website.
“We answer the SOS call of all those in distress, not just to save their souls – but our own.”
443 people have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa so far in 2020.
40,000 have arrived in Europe by sea during the same period.
Last Month, Banksy auctioned off three seascapes overpainted with empty lifejackets representing those who have died crossing the Mediterranean. The proceeds £2.23 million ($2.95 million) was donated to a Bethlehem hospital.
Banksy is an anonymous graffiti artist from Bristol, who uses subversive epigrams and dark humour to provide political and social commentary on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy authentication and artist enquiries or reports of stolen work should be directed to Pest Control. The latest work has appeared on the official Banksy Instagram account, the latest confirmation of an authentic Banksy.
Photo © Seawatch International via Twitter