The Wonderful World of Jeff Gillette ~ Celebrating Slums and Taking Aim at Glass Castles

Jeff Gillette in his studio in California, Image Source: Evening Standard
Dismayland Collection: Jeff Gillette grew up in the suburbs of 1960’s Detroit enamoured with “The Wonderful World of Disney” TV show. Yet, this vision was shattered when he finally visited the Orange County amusement park and discovered that he actually detested the place for its utopian artificiality. His ‘Dismayland’ collection takes a different look at the magical kingdom of Disneyland, taking the concept of the perfect-looking, almost fantasy-like structure that is Disney and turning it on its head.
Jeff first got onto Banksy’s radar when he snuck a Taliban version of the Manet painting ‘Luncheon in the Grass’ onto a wall in Banksy’s show ‘Barely Legal’. It was placed next to Banksy’s iconic ‘Girl With Red Balloon’. Jeff’s painting was taken down by his (Banksy) staff within 30 minutes.
Jeff was later contacted by Pest Control (Banksy’s Management Company), asking about his ‘Minnie Mouse Billboard’ painting from his Hiroshima Landscape Series. Banksy bought the piece and invited Jeff to participate in Dismaland.
Dismaland’ was a temporary art project organised by street artist Banksy, constructed in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England. Prepared in secret, the pop-up exhibition at the Tropicana, a disused lido, was “a sinister twist on Disneyland” that opened during the weekend of 21 August 2015 and closed permanently on 27 September 2015, 36 days later. Banksy described it as a “family theme park unsuitable for children.
Jeff’s work on display at Dismaland.
Although he was not the only artist involved in the dystopian installation’s realisation — one of the others being his wife Laurie Hassold, who worked with him to create the Mickey Mouse ears worn by workers at the attraction — Jeff was nonetheless hailed as its standout artist.
Jeff and Laurie spent two days making hundreds of distressed looking Mickey Mouse Ears from paint can lids. The ears were worn by the theme park personnel who were instructed to act ‘dismal’ to patrons​.
Jeff inspiring young artists
“SRA” (Slum Rehabilitation Authority)
“Bandra Mickey Flyover”
“I wanted to give people in the slums of Mumbai anything I could that might make life better. So I decorated. I spray painted castles and Mickey Mouse figures on the walls. The kids and adults loved it. I don’t think they care about the characters or even know who they are, but the images intrigued them.” ~ Jeff Gillette
Kid’s party at Disneyland, Dharavi, Mumbai 2017
“My Mumbai artist friend Samir Parker shared an insight with me: that people with less, view those with more as unlucky because more things means more fear. We may have more, but we have more stress instead of living in the moment and enjoying the little we have to be responsible for.” ~ Jeff Gillette
“Desert Intervention in the Mojave Desert in California where I find fun stuff to do with the debris I find there…” — Jeff Gillette



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