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With his characteristic stencil techniques Banksy has created variations on the theme of a girl with a balloon, but the most famous of these is the one discovered in the South Bank of London in 2002 on the wall of a stairway. In this work an innocent girl is reaching for a red heart-shaped balloon that is just beyond her grasp, and the words “there is always hope” are placed behind the girl. What is the meaning of this piece? Well, this image stimulated plenty of interest and discussion in the art world soon after it was discovered, and many different interpretations and meanings have arisen from this work, as with Banksy’s other works in general.
The image evokes the idea that hope is essential, as it gives people the motivation to continue on in life despite seemingly dreary circumstances. Bansky is cleverly able to use the squalid surroundings in which the work is placed to portray bleakness during difficult times and the possibility of happiness or satisfaction despite adversity. Love, symbolized by the balloon, is a fundamental human need and must be cherished. Banksy also uses the green grass growing along the edge of the wall to provide contrast and to represent nature. People even have tattoos of the balloon girl! This continues to be one of Banksy’s most popular pieces which has been put on many canvas prints and posters around the world.
Recently Justin Bieber tattooed the balloon girl design on his arm and caused a big stir throughout the teenie bopper community. Banksy has yet to comment on the bieberfication of his work.