Banksy has donated a painting to the Southampton General Hospital celebrating the heroic efforts of the NHS workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
The painting, an uncharacteristic medium for the elusive street artist, shows a young boy dressed in dungarees playing with a superhero nurse doll, complete with a mask and apron bearing the Red Cross symbol and a cape. Next to the child, a wastepaper bin holds discarded toys, including Spider-Man and Batman - outdated versions of superheroes in our new pandemic-stricken world.
Banksy left a note for hospital workers, saying: "Thanks for all you're doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it's only black and white."
The hospital, which is the largest in the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust system, hosts coronavirus researchers, including those who are starting vaccine trials.
Speaking to the BBC, which first reported the news, hospital trust CEO Paula Head said: "It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital, as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art. It will no doubt also be a massive boost to morale for everyone who works and is cared for at our hospital."
The work will remain on view in the corridor near the emergency department until this autumn, at which point it will go up for auction to raise money for the NHS. And judging by recent history, it could be quite profitable. In late March, Sotheby's held an online auction of Banksy's works that netted $1.4 million, showing that buyers were undeterred by the economic downturn.