A family theme park which is proudly being billed by graffiti artist Banksy as not suitable for small children is to open for business.
Residents near the Somerset seafront resort of Weston-super-Mare had thought the top-secret make-over of a 2.5 acre site was for a film shoot.
In fact the Tropicana, a former lido, was being prepared for a theme park which its creator Banksy describes as "a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism".
The project, called Dismaland — Bemusement Park, comes complete with a fairytale castle, a boat pond full of asylum seekers, two ballet-performing juggernauts and an anarchist training camp running classes in how to break into bus billboards.
Banksy, who was determined to build a venue for low income holidaymakers, said: "This is an art show for the 99 per cent who'd rather be at Alton Towers. "
It includes a never-before-seen collection of satirical art and sculpture by Banksy along with work from a range of artists.
Banksy insists it is a deadly serious attempt to assemble the most cutting edge artists in the world right now.
He said: "I banned any imagery of Mickey Mouse from the site. It's a showcase for the best line-up of artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down."
With artists ranging from Jenny Holzer, the first woman to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale, to Ed Hall, a pensioner who has spent 40 years producing every major trade union banner from his garden shed, Banksy stresses that this is "not a street art" show.
Many of Banksy’s works will need audience participation to come to life as the show aims to offer an “escape from mindless escapism”, organisers say.
Among the exhibits visitors will find a bus-mounted museum looking at the role of design in social control, and a portable cabin in the kids’ area offering “loans against your pocket money”.
There is also a Punch and Judy show which has been rewritten by Julie Burchill.
A riot control vehicle which was originally commissioned to serve on the streets of Northern Ireland now lies half submerged in a swimming pool sprinkling pretty patterns from its water cannon.
On what the possible meaning of all this can be, Banksy said: “I guess you’d say it’s a theme park whose big theme is — theme parks should have bigger themes.”
North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton said it was a relief to finally be able to talk about the project.
He said: “We have been working closely with the organisers for months now, and for obvious reasons, have had to remain tight-lipped about the true nature of the event. In fact, only four people in the entire council knew what was really happening.
“I had a preview of the exhibition while it was still being assembled last week, and I have to say, it is absolutely brilliant. As well as entertaining, it’s also incredibly thought-provoking.”
He said he was “hugely proud” that the council is hosting this event as it will welcome “many thousands of people who will visit over the coming weeks, from all over the world.”
It could also help with efforts to promote Weston-super-Mare as a centre for contemporary urban living, he claimed.
The exhibition opens twice daily from this weekend.