Banksy was the first UK graffiti artist to successfully straddle the divide between street and fine art. Having initially built his reputation on a series of high profile public stunts, such as installing his own painting into the Tate Museum, Banksy has become a worldwide phenomenon and the leader of the street art movement. He started making editioned prints in 2002 and created over 50 in an 8 year period. His wit, humour and message have connected with a large international audience and he has become one of the hottest and most important living contemporary artists in the world.
Toxic Mary was first exhbited at ‘Turf War’, the street artist’s first major show which took place in July 2003 at a warehouse in Dalston. The screen print, in Banksy’s characteristic stencilled style, shows a cloaked woman feeding her infant son, and draws many comparisons to the classic Renaissance Madonna and Child. The piece, however, breaks firmly with tradition. Here the Virgin Mary is feeding her baby with a bottle, and one marked with the ancient symbol for poison.