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24 September 2014

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You are in: London > People > People Features > In search of Banksy

Banksy artwork in Islington

In search of Banksy

So, Banksy strikes again and this time in Islington, but did you see him? BBC London presenter Caroline Barker goes in search of the mysterious artist, why? Because she'd like to make a fortune out of him, of course.

Why, Banksy, are we really bothered?

by Caroline Barker

Every time there's another story about a Banksy being flogged, a kind-hearted soul walks up to me in the office and says: “They reckon mine's worth around sixteen grand now.” I spit on the back of her shoe.

You see, around six years ago I was walking down Charing Cross Road with a friend when we spotted a safe positioned in the middle of the path. On the front was a rat, picking the lock. An original Banksy. I wanted to pick it up and carry it home. My friend wanted a McDonalds. Burgers won. 

If I'd known then what I know now, namely that my friend would be obese, I'd have hailed the nearest cab, cloak and dagger and hot-footed it to the biggest bank, safe in hand.

Six years later...

Skip forward six years and I feel like one of those old women who sit with their cats thinking of what might have been. Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, my foot! As recompense I've tried to get my hands on every Banksy I can afford. Want to know what I've got? A Blur promo cd.


As close as I'm ever likely to get

Turn the corner and he's everywhere, but try to pin him down for an interview and it's quite a different prospect. Think trying to get your hands on a Furby circa Christmas 1999.

So why bother?

The hysteria's dying down, isn't it? Feels a bit like the Spice Girls - although that's left me wondering just how many people would turn up to see the Bristolian at Wembley?

After trying the regular approach; PR company, emails (frankly, I'm disappointed he has one), galleries that legitimately stock his work, oh and the Hackney graffiti removal team, I'm no nearer pinning Banksy down.

Now, I'm not one to waste BBC time and money, so the hunt for Banksy is strictly on my time.

I went to Bristol on a course recently and didn't bump into him (or Justin Lee Collins). I went to a sale of his work at Bonham's on my way home and, apart from sneezing at a completely inappropriate moment, all I got was an eyeful of big shot, shady types dressed like city traders making a bomb from trading off Graffiti.

Maybe that might have been a more productive use of my spare time. He did after all design the cover of my Blur cd.

Oi Banksy! email me

So, no Banksy yet. Next stop for me then is a gallery in the poshest part of London flogging a load of his stuff. Maybe I’ll catch him there, or perhaps seeing as he’s got his own PR and has been working down Islington way he might just get in touch.

Go on Mr Banksy, sir, drop me a line at - you know you want to.

Banksy pictures

Banksy pictures

No email yet then.

Each morning I wake up in the hope some masterpiece of ironic art is daubed all over my pebbledash that will secure my retirement, but all I see is bird poo.

So, next stop a gallery with a whole load of Banksy stuff on display, “never previously seen, the biggest of it’s kind.”

I’m expecting 'Gerry Cottle’s circus meets Hollywood Boulevard', surely they'd know how to hit on Banksy? Currently I'm thinking I'd have more luck finding a new husband, or in fact A husband.

This morning I stumbled over a man drawing in Marylebone Gardens. It wasn't him. So travel card and renewed optimism in hand I board the tube for the next hot spot of graffiti art; the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea of course.

Banksy doesn't catch a bus

Down a street where the bus stops (if they had them) would cost a cool million (you never do see bus stops on posh streets). Past a few houses with Van Goughs hanging above the loo and I found the latest haven of illegal street art, the Andipa Gallery.

Acoris Andipa

Acoris Andipa, Gallery Director

Now, while half of me wanted to take a flyer on the shop next door which is the perfect antithesis of those under-a-pound establishments, I am trying to find Banksy after all, so what's a guy like him doing in a joint like this? Well, he's not.

Acoris Andipa rises like a Greek god, except he's an Adonis offering complimentary brownies.

“I was introduced to his work very late unfortunately,” he says. Half grimace, half smile from me. “We were dealing in his art a little while ago. The world is waking up and seeing it’s great art.” So the world has woken up to it, but what does the great man think about it being flogged in an upmarket gallery? “He seems to find it funny.”

Rich man's play-thing

Banksy, it strikes me, has become one of those rich man's play things (something you'd surely expect him to despise?), although Acoris isn’t just in it for fun.

Banksy street art in a frame

Banksy street art in a frame

“I wanted to put together a show, of course for commercial reasons, but I also wanted to balance that with some street art to show people the varying contexts that Banksy works in but they’re not for sale.”

Not even if I smile sweetly? Sadly not, and probably rightly so.  If they’d tried flogging the street art it would be a lot like selling your Granny. You just don’t do it. “right from the beginning” says Acoris “ I said no street art for sale.”

So, instead the gallery was flogging off some of the many prints, and as I rolled around the pennies in my pocket chanting Acoris’ mantra “no street art for sale” I decided to reach out and touch one of the prints ( a bit like the way you casually drop into conversation “ I met him once” when in truth you saw him across the street)

Finally Banksy turns up

And then it happened. A scruffy looking oik turned up requesting an audience with Acoris. Could this be him? I took a photo of the back of his head as evidence. Turned out it wasn’t and the closest this gallery had ever been to him was a trademark rat sprayed on the wall outside.

Banksy: Is this him?

Banksy: is this him?

As I walked away from the Andipa, surprised they hadn't stuck a frame around the rat, and wondering how long before they carve it out and flog it, I started to think: a sandwich board and the words 'paint me Banksy', might just work eh?

So, am I any nearer finding Banksy? Am I eck, I have to rely on coming back to see Acoris, a man I liked at the start but started to hate around about the point he told me he had several pieces of his own. “He’s an anonymous Robin Hood kind of character,” says Acoris.

I say 'come rob me blind 'oh graffitied one' before I start to go off you too.

last updated: 20/05/2008 at 11:18
created: 06/03/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

for queen and country let banksy be
Is publishing a story about banksy in the bbc cosuming bbc resources in pursuit of banksy?

Leave the guy alone, he doesn't want to be found, you can't understand him unless you are a graffiti writer. What do you expect,a super human

i believe i have seen a piece of banksys art being put up not by one man but a group.

Does anyone know if there is an exhibition in London or if you are able to view Banksys' work there at the moment??

constantino attard
ive just seen a london does work stencil on leake street is this a response to banksy

constantino attard
i believ there is a new banksy in stoke newington, on a white wall 50inch high letters it says "i am not your type" could this be banksy coming back to stokey??

Lisa stepanovic
We really need BANKSY to come and create a masterpiece on our special needs school IAN MIKARDO HIGH SCHOOL,BOW E.3 we are a registered charity in desperate need of all kind of help from printing to cash. PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE help this URBAN LONDON SCHOOL!!!!!!!

Banksy is a god.

most of the art on this website is not Banksy, so why say that it is?it seams as if any one who stencils outside is now Banksy!wake up!

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