James Joyce Dismaland


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We talk to James Joyce about his recent involvement with Banksy’s Dismaland.

Banksy chose to use one of your vibrant recent works as the signature image for Dismaland. Can you tell us more about how this came about?

He got in touch earlier in the year to ask whether I would be up for being in a show he’s planning in the summer. I made a video installation piece for the show and Banksy wanted to use that image on the cover of the programme as for him it summed up the event.

What’s it like seeing your work completely re-positioned like this, from painting to moving image installation to icon for Dismaland?

It’s interesting to see how it can exist on all of those levels, to be a piece of art in the show and as the icon for the event itself. For one of my images to represent such a landmark show is great.

How involved were you in its re-imagination for Dismaland?

It came out of a conversation. Initially Banksy was interested in the paintings, but when we discussed it further we agreed that a rotating piece would be really impactful. I looked into making an actual physical piece where the parts of the face tumbled around as the disc rotates but when I had a test animation made to see how that might work we decided that actually it would look great projected onto a huge circular panel.

Can you explain your working process and materials for ‘Here For A Good Time Not A Long Time?’ – the original painted version?

The original painting is a large circular panel, painted with household gloss paint.

It’s a deeply conflicting image, full of joy and utter despair. What inspired it?

I think originally I did a collapsed clown face a few years ago and then this followed on from that. I think it was just one of those moments that happens sometimes as an artist. It comes from play really, playing with images. I can remember making it, though, and realising it was a really strong image. It’s interesting that such a simple image can be loaded with other deeper associations.

You’re most famous for your graphic works, and the paintings are a continuation of that. Have you always enjoyed the art of painting?

I have, but now it’s taking more of a prominent role than it ever has before, although painting is just one aspect. I’m open to using whatever medium is right for a particular project.

What’s next, James?

This month I have a painting in an exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool. The show is called ‘It’s Glam Up North’ and is curated by Rankin in aid of Claire House Children’s Hospice. I’ve donated a painting titled ‘3 likes’. Following that I’m continuing to work on future art projects.

(Images shown: Perseverance in the Face of Absurdity and the cover visual of the Dismaland programme)

  • James Joyce Dismaland