A masked man claiming to be The Original Banksy revealed a remarkable new artwork in Bournemouth on 30 March and took questions from the press via Zoom.
To my surprise, he followed this up with an exclusive interview with Dorset View.
There is no knowing if this man’s claim is real, particularly as Banksy has always concealed his identity, and remains anonymous, but the man I spoke to set up a company in 2019 called The Original Banksy Limited and maintains there are seven original pieces of Banksy artwork created in Bristol and Glastonbury that are his. Three of which he says he has obtained the trademarks for: Syd, Ka-Ching and Homeless – with the other four “pending”.
Louis Pulford meets the self-proclaimed ‘Original Banksy’
I recently received an interesting invitation to an art event at the Green House in Bournemouth.
The man involved in this event alleged that what has happened to his artwork could be the biggest art fraud and scandal in recent history. The man claimed to be none other than the original Banksy.
At the event I was privy to seeing an ‘original piece’ of artwork, EEECK, unveiled along with a Zoom call from the self proclaimed “Original Banksy” who wore a mask to protect his identity.
It was explained that he wanted to distinguish himself from those who have copied, renamed and claimed his work, and to clarify that he is the rightful creator of the unique Banksy-style of street art.
He now wishes to be known as, “The Original Banksy”.
He retains his anonymity. It was how he started out in Bristol in 2000 when the media christened him and helped to co-create his anonymous identity.
At the event, questions were put to him. I found some from the likes of the big media corporations who attended, a bit bland and impersonal, so I asked if I could get an exclusive interview with the man claiming to be the real Banksy.
The event organisers and the man behind the mask agreed to speak to Dorset View via a conference call along with two of his team, David Martin and Natalie Awcock, and myself, and editor Janine Pulford.
I got a chance to ask some more questions that resonated with my personal experience with Banksy over the years. I was given the book ‘Wall and Piece’ as a present and I was also a big fan of the documentary ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’, and wanted to find out more about both.
Firstly, and I have no wish to offend the person claiming to be The Original Banksy, I am aware that this could all be a media ruse to excite the public and Banksy fans. However, the guts of the conversation and the alleged fraud are far too interesting not to report on from a neutral point of view.
LP: Where are you from?
The Original Banksy: I was born in London.
LP: How did you get into art and specifically your love for stencils?
The Original Banksy: Ever since I was about five, I’ve always done it and my mother encouraged me immensely. I went to Goldsmiths University, studied there for a while and stencils came from when I was doing a recce in Bristol around 2000 and realised everything was a bit wishy washy, nothing distinctive or definitive. In ‘98 I did some drawings/painting studies, which I developed into stencils and tested it there, they punched out and I was only trying to get a reaction really.
LP: Who is your favourite artist?
The Original Banksy: Probably overall and he’s more of a mentor is René Magritte – he’s my man.
LP: Obvious question is how do we know you are the real Banksy?
The Original Banksy: The fact that the whole British media is involved in the scam and dropped me out is really the answer there. So I’m not going to try and prove it or justify it anymore.
LP: So what is your favourite piece you have created?
The Original Banksy: One you haven’t seen yet. The stuff I have been doing effortlessly through the frustration has brought out the best Banksy juice in me.
LP: I was given ‘Wall and Piece’ as a kid and found it fascinating, but I was informed that the whole book is an entire fabrication, so is all of the art in that book not yours or does it feature authentic work? Did you know that book was going to be published?
The Original Banksy: This is what is going to happen, this is going to be a complete unlocking of people’s minds globally, I had no input in that whatsoever, so there is – and I will use the names they gave – Girl with a Balloon, Panda, Flower Thrower, Rat, Michael Eavis, Paddington – if they are in that book they are mine. All I am making claims to are the ones I did. I have only ever done seven images, replicated many times.
LP: Then this moves me onto ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’. I loved that documentary and always had my own conspiracy theory on the film that Mr Brainwash was created by “The Original Banksy” as a prank. So what do you have to say about my thoughts on this?
The Original Banksy: Only I can really tell you, but you’re right Mr Brainwash was used as a prank by the people who are pretending to be Banksy – if you watch the bit with me sitting with Homer Simpson, they doppelganged me and got the voice pretty close didn’t they? I’ve shown people and they’ve said “that’s you” and this is probably the biggest art scandal ever and it is going to take time for people to get their heads around it.
LP: I understand you said the art world is bland. Society is a bit bland, the modern mediocrity – people fascinated with themselves and their profiles on social media and creating engagement about themselves – so how would you advise aspiring artists/ creatives to keep their head above this noise and just do what they do not for recognition, but for themselves?
The Original Banksy: The trouble is you know it is the same thing, money has become the lifeblood of the whole systematic bit you know, paints are dear and canvases are dear, what I want to do is open the gates a bit, because I know some incredibly creative people who are really good at what they do and can’t get any platform. The Artworld pulls 25 year olds who know nothing and control them and make them do what they want them to do and become successful very quickly, there is a balance of artists from 40 to 50 that are really quite advanced at what they do but can’t get anywhere because the art world is so contained and controlled, and that is why I am making the point. All we can do is sort the art world side of things out and other people will come forward for their revolutionary ideas, in terms of the art world it has done me no favours whatsoever and all I want is my recognition and then to put it straight; it is so corrupt.
LP: So let’s talk Pest Control Office, [This is the company claiming to be Banksy’s parent/legal guardian and claiming to be the only reliable source of Banksy’s artwork] or shall we just ignore?
The Original Banksy: It’s up to you I don’t mind, but I have a lot to thank them for. They have decided to disappear under the ether and they don’t know what to do. The one thing they didn’t allow for, is me returning.
Janine Pulford: have you ever worked with them?
The Original Banksy: No.
LP: Your new piece that was unveiled at the hotel was called EEECK, it expresses your concern for the future and the current ecological crisis, so do you consider spray painting and graffiti as green?
The Original Banksy: I am trying to encourage getting people off the walls and be more constructive in their space. I don’t know if that is eco-friendly or not, is it? It is up to the paint companies really, isn’t it?
LP: I would suggest it is up to the paint companies, through sustainable paints and packaging.
The Original Banksy: And I am all for that you know, I would use the brands, if everyone does a little bit it helps doesn’t it.
LP: Lastly If the media didn’t name you, would you have a name in mind?
The Original Banksy: That’s a good question, it’s nice to get good questions, actually that has never really occurred to me, it was sort of happening and if I was to put it in the press I would have thought about that, does that make sense? I was thrown by it because it is obviously a codename for making money, it just stuck, what they said is we’ll call you that and put it in the press, I wouldn’t give my real name of course.
JP: Did you do Banksy on a School Wall in Bristol? It was authenticated by Pest Control.
The Original Banksy: When was it?
The Original Banksy: No definitely not. I only produced seven originals. I’m well aware that half the Banksy fans are going to be heartbroken, and they are going to stick to what they know, and the other half are going to want the real deal because I’ve got another five-year plan.
So what do I say about this interaction with this masked figure I met on a screen at the unveiling of EEECK? Is he the original Banksy? Or maybe the whole thing is a very well-crafted publicity stunt. Who knows and how do I present this information without my own personal thoughts behind it? What do you think? What questions would you have asked if you were told you were interviewing such a high profile figure in the art world?
The man I spoke to had a solid air of confidence and personality within his voice, a calm character, and he didn’t stumble over his answers. He is claiming only for the recognition of his seven original artworks (including the Alien Tag), and these can be viewed at: www.theoriginalbanksy.co.uk.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Pest Control Office has been asked for a response, but as yet Dorset View has not received a reply.
The Original Banksy Ltd has provided three copies of the registered trademarks for Syd, Ka-Ching and Homeless. Also a solicitor’s statement has been provided confirming that a sworn affidavit claiming the identity of the Original Banksy – who has sworn ownership of copyrights of his 6 original Art designs: “Hope”, “Syd”, “Ka-Ching”, “Red”, “Michael Eavis” and “The Alien Tag” – is held at the solicitor’s office in Devon.
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