Banksy – The Walled Off Hotel – Official Opening
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The Walled Off Hotel officially opened its doors on the 11th March opening it’s Piano Bar, Gallery and Museum to the public. At the same time the online booking system went live and the first tranche of rooms were made available – up until the end of June.
The Walled Off Hotel has been a 14 month project where Banksy has renovated an old building transforming it into a plush Hotel styled as an old colonial outpost from 1917 when Britain first ‘got its hands on Palestine’. With his own work adorning the Piano Bar, Artist decorated rooms (Dominique Petrin, Sami Moussa and Banksy having already decorated some of the rooms), a gallery dedicated to showing works by Palestinian Artists and a Museum providing an insight of the struggle faced by everyday people caught up in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
We’ll cover the Galleries, Museum and the local street art in separate posts, the rooms weren’t accessible to the public on the opening and I don’t think you’ll get to see them unless you are a paying guest.
The exterior of the hotel had been stencilled with fake imperial columns and ornate ‘balconies’, even the outside walls along the veranda had received the banksy treatment with stencilled faux pillars and ornate wall decorations. With a shredded black flag flying from the flag pole and a fancy hotel sign hanging above the door you just knew it would be special.
While we were waiting we blagged a ladder and left our mark, hand styles were shocking but trying to balance on a ladder on an unmade road wasn’t easy 😉
Wassam, the Hotel Manager Greeted us and welcomed us into the new hotel, and as we walked in through the doors you could see all of the lavish decoration, leather furniture, wood panelled ceilings and Banksy artwork and sculpture adorning the walls throughout the Piano bar, it was a perfect combination of the heady days of colonialism and Banksy’s challenging and forthright presentation of the harsh realities of Palestinian life.
I don’t fully appreciate the struggles nor do i understand the issues or who’s at fault, but I don’t think this is about taking sides, it is highlighting the plight of innocent people, those most affected by the conflict and trying to bring some attention to the suffering and lack of freedom they have. A masked David surrounded by tear gas, children riding swings around a watch tower, families driven from their home as it is bulldozed. I cant add any commentary to the political issues in the region but it struck me as all very symbolic of the effects these issue have on many people whose only ‘crime’ is to be Palestinian and to try and bring more awareness and support to their plight.
The art was in a perfect setting, walking through the curtains there was the lamb and leopard hanging to the right and the lifejacket strewn beach hanging above the fireplace with flammable sign and fake flames in amongst the rubble on the floor. Loads of Royal Pottery Memorabilia lining the shelf above the bar, as well as some more along the back wall. There seemed to be loads of Princess D & Prince Charles Pottery scattered amongst it all. The Rat clocks behind the reception bar, the cherubs behind the grand piano at the back set against a back drop of graffiti covered stained glass windows.