Art is a lot of things to a lot of people. However, there is also middle ground to be had here. No matter whether it’s Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or a meme from the internet, art is here for the betterment of humankind.

Art can enrich us culturally. Art can make us experience new things. Art can be a fountain of morality. Above all, art can push us towards change. Which is what anonymous British cultural art icon Banksy has done over the last few days with his latest Christmas-themed mural.

Banksy’s latest mural, drawing attention to the homeless problem in the UK, popped up a few days ago

Image credits: Banksy

A video has recently surfaced on Banksy’s Instagram account. It features a homeless man, later to be identified as Ryan, taking a sip of water in preparation for his bed time on a public bench, which is covered by sacks full of his belongings.

The shot zooms out to reveal an artistic extension to the bench—reindeer taking off into the skies. The way the bench is set up with Ryan’s belongings on it as well as his physical appearance create an allusion of him being Santa Clause flying through the night sky in his sleigh.

View the full video of Banksy’s new Christmas mural


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A caption is also included together with the video, reading: “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench, passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter—without him ever asking for anything.” People can find the new work of art on Vyse St. in Birmingham.

Bored Panda got in touch with Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, regarding the state of homelessness in the United Kingdom. Shelter is a UK-based charity that aims to end homelessness and bad housing in the country.

Another one of Banksy’s recent murals points out the ever-increasing problem of climate change

Image credits: Banksy

Banksy’s new mural draws attention to a sad and worsening reality that the advent is not a jolly time for all. Winter is the toughest season for those without a home: temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius, frequent chill winds, and the occasional snow fall. Not the most perfect of conditions to sleep under the moonlit sky.

“It’s vital we wake up the to the shocking scale of homelessness in this country,” says Neate. “It’s deeply distressing that so many people are forced to sleep on our streets where they routinely face threats of violence and conditions that can result in serious ill-health or even death.”

Girl With Balloon by Banksy

Image credits: Banksy

According to a report by Shelter, around 320,000 people were homeless in 2018. This translates to 1 in every 200 people living without a home nationwide. London is responsible for a bit over half of the count—170,000 people, or 1 in every 52, in the London area are homeless. Other areas like Brighton (1 in 67), Birmingham (1 in 73) and Manchester (1 in 135) are also facing a problem with homelessness. A Shelter spokesperson explained that more recent statistics are currently in the works, but considering the trends, the number of homeless is expected to rise.

“As we see through our own frontline services every day, rough sleeping is a terrible consequence of the housing emergency we’re in,” continues Polly Neate. “That’s why, on top of immediate action to help people off the streets, we also need the next government to rapidly get to grips with the dire lack of social homes that underpins this crisis. Simply put, you can’t solve homelessness without homes.”

Season’s Greetings by Banksy

Image credits: Banksy

For those unaware, Banksy is a world-renowned anonymous English street artist, political activist, and film director. Outdoor locations like streets, walls and bridges have been the canvas for his visual commentary since the early 1990s. He is best known for Girl with Balloon, Love is in the Air, and Napalm, as well as a handful of other works.

This isn’t Banksy’s first Christmas-themed mural, as there was also Season’s Greetings. It features a young kid catching snowflakes with his tongue on one side of a wall. On the other, however, it is revealed that the snow is actually smoke and embers coming from a fire. It used to be on the steelworker’s garage in Port Talbot, but was later moved to a gallery in the town’s Ty’r Orsaf building

Bored Panda has covered Banksy’s art before, including a list of his famous work around the world, the time he got kicked out of the Venice Art Biennale, and a detailed account on why this one Girl With Balloon shredding display is fake.

Love Is In The Air by Banksy

Image credits: Why Palestine? / Banksy

You can also become a part of Shelter’s mission by donating to the Shelter’s Urgent Christmas Appeal by visiting their website or, if you’re from the UK, you can text SHELTER to 70030 to donate £3 (texts cost the standard network rate plus £3). Shelter receives 100% of your donations.

What are some of your favorites from Banksy? Let us know in the comments below!