The face of Banksy? Archived news report shows graffiti artist 'talking on camera'

Chris Parsons
News Editor

He’s the world’s most famous graffiti artist - but his identity has always been a mystery.

Banksy’s notoriety has grown for years due to his elusive identity, but a newly-unearthed news report from 2003 claims to show him speaking on camera.

Footage from the archives of ITV News claims to show Banksy speaking to camera ahead of his Turf War exhibition 16 years ago.

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.

the ITV News report shows a man thought to be Banksy, with some of his face obscured.

In the footage, ‘Banksy’ 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.'

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'.

'Banksy' adds extra touches to his 'Turf War' exhibition during the archived news footage.

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.


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'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.

A spokesperson for Banksy refused to confirm whether the footage does show the elusive artist himself.

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

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

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.

ITV News correspondent Haig Gordon said he 'saw Banksy's face' during the short interview.

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?'

An artwork by Banksy on the side of a garage depicts a child dressed for snow playing in the falling ash and smoke from a skip fire, in Port Talbot, Wales. (Ben Birchall/PA FILE via AP)
People queue up holding umbrellas as they wait in rain to buy tickets for Banksy's exhibition theme park 'Dismaland' at Weston-super-Mare in 2015. (PA)

He replies: 'No. What details have you got?'

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.

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'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.

A spokeswoman for Banksy declined to comment.