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Rare ‘Banksy’ television interview discovered 16 years on

Screengrab issued by ITV News from an interview with Banksy in July 2003 which has been discovered in the broadcaster’s tape vaults (ITV News/PA)
Screengrab issued by ITV News from an interview with Banksy in July 2003 which has been discovered in the broadcaster’s tape vaults (ITV News/PA)

A tape of an extremely rare interview claimed to be with Banksy has been discovered in a vault.

The ITV News report was filmed ahead of the elusive graffiti artist’s Turf War exhibition in 2003.

He is seen stencilling a black insect on to a wall and painting a picture of a baby with blocks spelling “KILL MORE”.

Both pieces have long been attributed to Banksy.

The two-minute report, by ITV News correspondent Haig Gordon, features the artist speaking for 35 seconds.

He is wearing a baseball cap and has a T-shirt pulled over his lower face, but his eyes, eyebrows and forehead are visible.

“I’m disguised because you can’t really be a graffiti writer and then go public,” he tells Gordon, who has since retired.

“The two things don’t quite go together.”

Banksy interview discovered from 2003
ITV News correspondent Haig Gordon interviewed Banksy in July 2003 (ITV News/PA)

The report was discovered by Bristol-based ITV News correspondent Robert Murphy, who recently filmed Banksy’s Devolved Parliament going on display at Bristol Museum.

After that report, Murphy looked into the ITV archives and was amazed to find a library entry with the catalogue listing “Interview with Banksy”.

He requested the archive tape, which has now been transferred to a digital file, from the London vaults.

Murphy then contacted Gordon, who had forgotten that he interviewed Banksy ahead of the Turf War exhibition in Dalston, north-east London, in July 2003.

“I saw his face. The only problem is I can’t remember what his face looked like,” he told ITV News.

“I don’t think I could say a single thing about what he looked like. Isn’t that dreadful?

“He was relaxed, he was laid-back, he was amiable. I quite took to him. I was dreading a pretentious arty-farty type, but he was very pleasant.

“He reacted very well when I made a joke just before the camera was rolling.

“I said ‘Right, Banksy, what will you do if I take that (the T-shirt) off during the interview?’ and he just laughed, he knew I wasn’t meaning it.

“But I wish I had, because that would have been extremely valuable.”

Banksy interview discovered from 2003
Screengrab from the newly discovered tape of ITV News’ interview with Banksy in July 2003 (ITV News/PA)

Gordon continued: “I have no evidence on which to make an assessment on whether this was the real Banksy or not.

“But it seemed like an organised event. The press officer seemed like a normal press officer who wouldn’t be playing a trick on the media.

“We got the footage of him doing things without a disguise and we had a conversation without the disguise.”

In his film Exit Through The Giftshop, Banksy is filmed as a hooded silhouette and his voice is distorted.

The voice is muffled in the ITV footage, due to the grey T-shirt over his nose and mouth.

He wears a blue and white cap and a beige hooded coat.

Turf War saw Banksy decorate live farm animals, with sheep painted as blue zebra, cattle with “This way up” arrows and stencilled blue police patrol car colours on pigs.

“It’s hard to make an entertaining picture at the best of times but at least if you have something that wanders around and licks its nose and urinates in front of you it’s going to make the picture a bit more interesting,” the interviewee tells Gordon.

Asked about spraying “Designated Riot Area” on Nelson’s Column, the man tells the journalist: “I thought that was quite funny.”

Gordon asks: “You don’t mind if I pass your details on to the police?”

He replies: “No. What details have you got?”

Banksy interview discovered from 2003
ITV News correspondent Haig Gordon looks at a Banksy artwork (ITV News/PA)

Richard Jones is a director of Tangent Books, which has published several books about Banksy and Bristol street art.

He described the footage as “really unusual” and “very, very rare”.

“His anonymity is something which is very, very important to him,” Mr Jones said.

“I often wonder what it must be like living your life anonymously.

“It must be so strange, going through layers of hiding your identity.

“I wonder how he feels about being the most famous current artist in the world but nobody knowing who he is apart from a small group of people.”

Banksy has used teams of people to create larger exhibitions such his dystopian theme park Dismaland in Weston-super-Mare in 2015 and Banksy versus Bristol Museum in 2009.

It is not known whether he was the sole artist for Turf War.

Murphy said the interview showed “several things” that had not previously been seen in relation to Banksy.

“Firstly, we have an artist purporting to be ‘Banksy’ creating art at an official Banksy exhibition,” he said.

“Secondly, this man is interviewed and we see more of his face than we have ever seen before.

“Thirdly, we hear his voice. It is mumbly and muffled but he’s clearly a very funny chap.

“We simply don’t know for sure if this is Banksy. But here, for the first – and last – time, is someone put up for interview at an official show.

“That hasn’t happened before or afterwards, which makes this interview and Haig’s report so extraordinary and rare.”

Banksy interview discovered from 2003
Screengrab from the newly discovered tape of Haig Gordon’s interview with Banksy for ITV News in 2003 (ITV News/PA)

Murphy said that, at other events, Banksy creates the artworks and “slips back to the shadows” – letting his pieces speak for themselves.

He insisted that ITV was not trying to expose Banksy or reveal his real name.

“What we are saying is ‘There was this event back in 2003, Banksy willingly gave ITV News an interview, he wanted the publicity, it’s been forgotten, now it’s found and here it is’,” Murphy said.

“People can make up their own minds.”

A spokeswoman for Banksy declined to comment.

The video will be available to watch on ITV News West Country’s digital channels on Thursday evening.

It will be broadcast on ITV News West Country at 6pm.

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