Meet the Dismaland artist: Bill Barminski

PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 September 2015

Bill at Dismaland

Bill at Dismaland


THERE are many weird and wonderful things to see at Dismaland, right from the moment you step through the door.

Banksy exhibition press call.Banksy exhibition press call.

The first curiosity to marvel over once you have passed the threshold, an airport-style security checkpoint crafted from cardboard and manned by surly guards, was created by American artist Bill Barminski.

The Mercury caught up with him at Dismaland before he jetted off back to Los Angeles to see what he made of the experience.

He said: “I have had a great time, it’s been very fun. I’ve been helping out with other work.

“There’s a lot of artists here and people are really cool, everyone is pitching in. The vibe here is dismal but fun, people seem to be enjoying it.

“It’s been an amazing experience, I’ve met artists from around the world. Everyone comes along and pitches in and helps each other.

“There is a surprise around each corner, there’s plenty to look at.”

Bill was asked to take part in the exhibition, which is housed inside the Tropicana on Weston’s seafront but, in Banksy’s typically-elusive style, he was not told anything about the show.

He said: “I was asked to join five months ago, I wasn’t told what it was for, just asked to do a security installation. I didn’t know any of it until I got here five days before it opened, I got here and thought ‘this is not a small group show’.”

We asked Bill if he had met the anonymous Banksy, and he said: “I’ve not met Banksy, unless he is milling around and we don’t know it. He is a mystery man. Or woman, I don’t know.”

Bill has worked with a range of media over the years, moving from large-scale cardboard installations to working with small animations, and even helping create music videos for the likes of Gnarls Barkley.

His piece for Dismaland is typical of his latest works, as it is interactive and light-hearted despite its dark undertones.

Bill said: “It’s cardboard, it is tactile. It’s serious but fun.

“People seem to like it, it’s funny, sometimes I go in and watch and people take it so seriously like it’s real and other people look around and realise it’s a fake security checkpoint and start making jokes.

“I encourage people to interact and pick things up, to look at it. That’s the fun of it. There’s not a lot of art where you are encouraged to manhandle it.

“The cardboard is holding up very well. It hasn’t rained in LA in six months. The coldest winter in LA is the summer in Weston.”

Like the other artists, Bill has been staying in Weston over the past few weeks in order to fix any teething problems with his installation and enjoy the atmosphere at Dismaland.

We asked him what he enjoyed about Weston, and he said: “I’ve been to Papa’s three times actually and it’s really good. I tried Thatchers cider and enjoyed that, too.”

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