Banksy has taken a stand against domestic violence with a new mural painted in the UK coastal town of Margate in Kent to mark Valentine’s Day.
Titled Valentine’s Day Mascara, the work shows a woman in a 50s-style gingham checked dress, complete with apron and yellow marigolds, smiling and winking with a swollen, bruised eye. Arms outstretched, she appears to have just disposed of her abusive husband inside a large chest freezer—his legs can be seen sticking out from the kitchen appliance.
According to the Isle of Thanet News, the work is located off Grosvenor Place in the centre of Margate, just behind the beach and next to Dreamland Margate, a recently restored amusement park featured in Tracey Emin’s autobiography Strangeland, which documents her own abuse.
Local residents are reported to have seen a broadband van driving away from the spot yesterday morning. Banksy is often said to masquerade as a workman in order to carry out his clandestine paintings undercover.
The mural appeared on the artist’s Instagram feed today and has been confirmed as a comment on domestic violence.
Domestic abuse spiked during the lockdowns of the pandemic. In 2021, Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, reported a 61% increase in calls to its help centres in the first year of the pandemic. According to the charity, one in four women are believed to experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime.
As the homeless and domestic abuse charity Foundation points out, for survivors and those in abusive relationships, Valentine’s Day can be an extremely triggering time. “Love bombing”—when someone showers their partner with gifts or shows excessive attention and affection—can often happen as a device of control in the early stages of a relationship.