Preface London Dada’s objective in bringing the graffiti artist Banksy’s true appearance and identity to public attention lies in our belief that the art world would be a much healthier and just environment for all artists to operate successfully if the honest and plain-speaking force for good that Banksy undoubtedly is, abandoned his now slightly tedious anonymity, screwed-up his courage and stepped out of the shadows into the limelight to take his wall messages also into the main media via interviews and public appearances. – Michael St.Mark London, February 2019
Banksy spotted in Spitalfields, August 2014. Rob Gunningham caught short, photographing what was probably intended to have been another addition to his collection of assorted street graffiti images, ( alongside a bulging scrap book of other artist’s torn cartoon pages it looks like; all for consideration to integrate into future Banksy works ** ).
Comparing Rob’s height with the old trade door and almost certainly the obscuring nearby (getaway) car in the image ( Stanmore plate ) , we estimate Banksy to come in at around the 6ft mark – maybe 6ft 1″ – 6′ 2″ in New Balance trainers. He’s certainly a tall guy.
Context August 3rd 2014, Wilkes Street London E1. An early Sunday morning chance encounter with two men, both noticeably avoiding attention in this deserted street, turning their backs as they were approached by London Dada’s Art Axis.
The tall silver-haired one who had bent forward, away from the approaching Art Axis, to attend a pro camera setup and apparently procuring photos of Dale Marshall-like graffiti and sundry adulterated posters adorning a dilapidated commercial twin door; on a signal from his assistant on the opposite side of the street at the sight of AA’s camera, stood, turned and stepped quickly out, placing one leg in front of the parked blue Peugeot 206 RC, covering the full plate reg number.
On viewing the total of 4 images we captured of this individual and his ducking & diving assistant / minder, it became clear by the identical features and proportions to those of the person reliably claimed to be *Robin Gunningham / Banksy by the Daily Mail in 2008 ( see below ) : that this indeed is Banksy himself.
In addition to the overall features in this picture both proportionally and specifically matching the famous Jamaican image of Gunningham from 2004, featured reversed in the Daily Mail in 2008, short moustache ( concealing a childhood lip surgery scar ) below a distinctive Punch & Judy chin, aquiline nose, high forehead with hairline interrupted by a widow’s peak, all being pretty much dead ringer giveaways.
The dyed silver hair & blotchy white make up-powdered stubble smear being an obvious attempt at c. +25yrs age disguise. Who else on the planet would make this big an effort to mask their appearance, including an obvious latex prosthetic sharp end nose piece (see below) when out in public and working around street graffiti?
* If Robin Gunningham, ex public schoolboy from Bristol, for whom there’s pretty indisputable evidence of being a real person is not Banksy, then why is he not listed on any public records, the Electoral Register, nor come forward after seeing his name plastered all over the ‘net to make clear he’s not the man?
Click to enlarge The Real Banksy
(c) Art Axis / London Dada 2014
* Available in a signed limited edition of 10 only; we believe the only available late contemporary image of the world-famous street artist in the public domain.
Lightjet fine art prints onto Kodak Pro archival paper 22″ W x 16″ H ( unframed ) £850 ( unframed )
* click to enlarge – the same give-away profile features of very prominent aquiline nose, except again, as in the Jamaican images without the latex prosthetic sharp-end nose piece; darkened ginger ( ginger being his natural hair colour ) – ‘tashed thin-lipped mouth covering a childhood surgery scar and again the prominent and distinctive Punch & Judy chin. Also note the badly matching 2-part false beard disguise Banksy chooses to wear on this occasion in our enlarged screenshot from the recent video taken in Hull, looking more like a chin strap. Careful scrutiny ( double click ) of the enlargement shows the sideburn part of the disguise is pinned to his right earlobe, probably through a pre-existing piercing, whilst the lower part of the disguise is attached via a small pin ( see red pen highlighted loops in the super enlargement below, click to view. ) ( Art Axis spot; 6th February 2018 ).
Confirming beyond doubt these two pictures show the same man, and that man is Robin Gunningham aka Banksy.
UPDATE 2 Balloon Girl shredding stunt at Sotherbys, October 5th 2018
Banksy was said by some to be present in the audience filming the pre-arranged stunt.. and so were other folk, one of whom panned her Smartphone camera across the room, taking in a dozen heads along the way. London Dada’s Art Axis – who close-up’d Banksy in 2014 paused the video ( an online upload ) at the point where he recognized someone uncannily similar to Banksy face-wise with recent front teeth orthodontology; this time with hair cropped short, the obligatory moustache and giveaway prominent dimpled chin and aquiline nose, this time using the latex prosthetic end-nose piece . The gent was decked out in a business suit with white loose-necked shirt and sporting dark tortoiseshell-framed glasses, wih what appears to be a miniature spy camera attached to the right side keeper. Cameraphone in hand, he’s obviously enjoying the proceedings…however he is filming with his smartphone in portrait mode whereas other video featured on his Instagram account of the auction was shot in the pro standard landscape format, suggesting the gym-fit assistant/minder he always works alongside for cover and security was filming the event for Banksy’s official Instagram account from close by in the auction room.
Update 12/12/2018 ( still frame from Banksy’s ” Director’s cut and a Half ” video ) After further close analysis and cross-compares, we can say with 100% certainty that this individual, previously filmed elsewhere in the Sotheby’s auction room, is Banksy himself; inadvertently, irony of ironies, caught in close-up on his own video.
Addendum Crop of Banksy’s loose-fitting and overlong jeans with trainers combo deportment style from our 2014 Spitalfields photograph with jeans folding down over the shoes ( below, left ) Compare with the same loose fitting combo style in the known photo of Banksy by Steve Lazarides, bottom right.
( Cropped & appropriated photograph ) * Original photo courtesy Steve Lazarides
This image, put out by Banksy in the midst of the UK coronavirus lockdown in 2020, featuring plays on French graffiti artist Blek le Rat’s time-honoured rat motif and purporting to be based on Banksy’s actual home bathroom; perhaps offers an interesting insight into his socia-domestic situation. The fixtures, fittings and color scheme are decidedly dated, as if belonging to an unmoderniszed property from the 1970s or 80s era, which in turn suggests he lives alone, in that if he was married or co-habiting, the lady of the house would typically almost certainly insist on a new suite, especially considering the wealth of her husband or partner In summary, Robin Gunningham probably lives a predominently sheltered, if not hermit-like existence, most likely in or around the Bristol area as evidenced by his latest street work on Vale St in the Totterdown district, that if he’s conforming to lockdown rules is probably not far from his house. Incidently, the current mask mandates in force would constitute an absolute boon for Banksy – meaning he now doesn’t need to bother with tiresome faffing around with variations of disguise before sallying forth to the shops or further afield “for work”. We can therefore expect more frequency of activity from an emboldened RG as lockdown is eased this year, but he must of course guard against hubris.