Banksy reveals new artwork criticising teargas use in Calais refugee camps

The image links to a video showing French police firing water cannon at refugee families

Jess Staufenberg
Monday 25 January 2016 11:01
New Banksy appears in London

Banksy has criticised the use of tear gas on refugees in the "Jungle" camps in Calais in a new piece of art.

Appearing outside the French Embassy in London, the image shows the iconic young girl from Les Miserables with tears in her eyes from the gas billowing around her.

The CS cannister at her feet makes reference to the tear gas used by the French police to evict about 1,500 refugees from one of the camps on January 5 and 6.

It is the first of Banksy's artworks to use a QR code to link to a video - in this case, of refugees running from CS (tear) gas in Calais

But it appears that someone may have tried to tear the mural from the wall where it has been painted in Knightsbridge as the corners of the wood are ripped.

Fans of the artist have been visiting the mural and taking photos of it while they can.

Among them was Julie Moore, 29, a consultant living in London, who said the iconic girl gave the image impact.

"The work is incredible. I think the most powerful thing for me is I'm a lover of musicals and to use such such a powerful image of France is just beautiful," she said.

"This is on my morning running route and just a few weeks ago there there was a collection of flowers outside the embassy. It has so much meaning to have it here. It is an important message he is getting across."


Tear gas is used to keep migrants away from lorries on the motorway - but French police insist it has not been used where families were living in the Jungle.

"We do not use tear gas without a good reason and use of tear gas has to be authorised and it is only authorised when it is necessary," Steve Barbet, the police spokesman for the local prefect in Calais, said last week.

However, a QR code on Banksy's artwork links to a video appearing to show police vans using water cannon and tear gas in the camp, with refugees running away from the gas' combined effects of burning eyes, vomiting and dizziness.

The video was taken by Calais Migrant Solidarity and shows refugees trying to kick gas cannisters away fand avoid water cannon.

The video appears to show tear has being fired at refugees in the Calais camp, despite French police saying it is never used there

It is the first time the artist has used a QR code in any of his works.

In December, Banksy revealed a new artwork in Calais of Steve Jobs, a child of Syrian migrants. At the time, Banksy made a rare statement about the negative portrayal of migration.

"We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources, but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant," he said.

"Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7 billion a year in taxes - and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs."

The artist's choice of the young girl from Les Miserables, Victor Hugo's novel on the French Revolution, references the values of liberty, fraternity and egality which French citizens died for from 1789 to 1799.

The Revolution is often seen as a forerunner to civil rights for Jewish and black people.

Banksy's newest work also depicts a tattered French flag in the background.

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