Mr Banksy, I presume: the councillor who quit over claims he’s got a secret & More Trending News


To be clear, Billy Gannon shouldn’t be Banksy. Or no less than – that’s what he says.

“The problem I have is that when I say to people, ‘I am not Banksy,’ I can see this look in their eyes, and they say, ‘That’s what Banksy would say,’” says the 58-year-old f rom Pembroke Dock, west Wales. “Every time I deny I am Banksy … a significant number of people in the town [decide] that I am, or could possibly be, Banksy.”

Not being Banksy could seem unremarkable to many individuals, the overwhelming majority of whom are additionally not the elusive avenue artist and activist. But in Gannon’s case his standing as Not Banksy plunged him this week into what he describes as “an existential crisis”, after he resigned from his publish as a councillor in the small Pembrokeshire city, in response to allegations unfold by e mail and on social media that he has lied about his id, is 10 years youthful than he claims – and is, actually, Banksy.

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The rumours, which Gannon believes had been began maliciously by a rival council candidate, had been “undermining my ability to do the work of councillor” and tarnishing the city council’s status, he wrote in an e mail to the clerk earlier this week. As a end result, he has stepped down as an unbiased member for Bufferland ward.

A Banksy artwork that appeared on a garage wall in Port Talbot in 2018.
A Banksy paintings that appeared on a storage wall in Port Talbot in 2018. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Watching experiences of his resignation, and the causes for it, unfold virally in Britain and much past over the previous few days has been deeply unusual, he says. “You know that Kafka novel, I think it’s The Metamorphosis, where a guy goes to bed as a human being and wakes up as a six foot tall beetle?

“What I’m being asked to do is not to prove who I am. I’m being asked to prove who I am not, and the person that I am not may not exist. I mean, how am I supposed to prove that I’m not somebody who doesn’t exist? Just how do you do that?”

For now, he has taken to carrying a small, black badge on his lapel that reads: “I am NOT Banksy.” “I am not Banksy,” he says, “and I have the badge to prove it.”

Part of the drawback, Gannon acknowledges, is that there’s simply sufficient in his personal background to make the rumours no less than believable. An artist himself with a explicit curiosity in group initiatives, he speaks passionately about working with unusual individuals and says he believes artwork must be out there to all.

Originally from Warrington, he moved to Pembroke Dock together with his spouse and son in 2013, after what he describes as “quite a wild life, living out of the backs of vans and spraying on walls” – although he says he was concerned extra in authorized avenue artwork than graffiti. “All the things that Banksy did, I did as well about 10 years earlier, which is why this allegation that I’m Banksy has so much weight to it. I was in the same place doing the same thing at the same time.

“But that doesn’t make me Banksy.”

Plenty of individuals may take into account it a praise to be in comparison with the wildly common artist, and Gannon, because it occurs, is amongst them. “Here’s the thing: I absolutely love him. Or him/her/them. The guy’s a hero. They’re heroes. Just for [Banksy’s interventions in Palestine] alone, he’ll always have a special place in my heart.” He additionally admires accessibility the artist’s work – “it’s for everyone”.

So why did he really feel the must resign? A spate of vandalism in a native park, simply as a variety of social media posts and emails appeared accusing Gannon of deceit and a historical past of unlawful graffiti, made him really feel his place was untenable, he says.

Sculpture of Louisa Calderon, who was the victim of racist torture in the 18th century, a work that William Gannon has done in his own name
Sculpture of Louisa Calderon, who was the sufferer of racist torture in the 18th century, a work that William Gannon has achieved in his personal identify. Photograph: William Gannon

“Having a councillor who has lied about his date of birth, and is operating under a false name – that would be disastrous for the reputation of the town. And suddenly the only thing we would be talking about in Pembroke Dock would not be how to make people’s lives better, we’d just be talking about how you have an impostor sitting on the town council.” The Guardian has seen the unique hostile messages and been proven proof confirming Gannon’s age and id.

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The story could have begun in malice however it is usually, the former councillor says, “so ridiculous. It’s just silly.” And so, in response, he has made a variety of his “I am NOT Banksy” badges out there to others by means of his web site, with the following assertion:

“If you are NOT Banksy, please take an I am NOT Banksy badge and wear it everywhere you go. If you ARE Banksy then please DO NOT take an I am NOT Banksy badge and DO NOT wear it everywhere you go.

“Help us find Banksy.”

Also not Banksy. Or are they?

Robert Del Naja, or 3D

A member of the band Massive Attack who has lengthy been recognized as a doable Banksy alter ego. Del Naja grew up in Bristol, the place Banksy’s earliest work appeared, and was a avenue artist earlier than founding the band. An evaluation in 2016 of Massive Attack worldwide tour dates claimed to indicate that they coincided with Banksy murals showing, and urged Del Naja was accountable, maybe as a part of a group. He has referred to as the declare “greatly exaggerated”.

Neil Buchanan

“Neil Buchanan ISN’T Banksy”, the former Children’s TV presenter insisted in 2020, after a Twitter hearsay led to a torrent of inquiries. The presenter of Art Attack had been identified for creating large-scale outside artworks, and there have been claims on social media that Banksy artworks had appeared to coincide with gigs by Buchanan’s former heavy metallic band Marseille.

Robin Gunningham

A Bristol artist who was first named in 2008 as a doable candidate by the Mail on Sunday, primarily based partially on a {photograph} stated to depict the graffiti artist and claims Gunningham had been notably good at artwork in class. Scientists at Queen Mary University in London claimed in 2016 to have used “geoprofiling” to hyperlink the two, however the claims have by no means been confirmed.

Jamie Hewlett

An nameless “forensics expert” claimed in 2018 to have recognized the artist and Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett as Banksy, primarily based on info that confirmed Hewlett was related to firms linked to the graffiti artist, whereas Banksy’s paintings has appeared in Gorillaz movies. A denial by Banksy’s spokesperson notably misspelled the identify Hewlett.

Thierry Guetta

Guetta’s emergence as graffiti artist Mr Brainwash was first documented in Banksy’s 2010 Oscar-nominated film Exit Through the Gift Shop, which led many viewers to marvel if he was Banksy himself. “When you say you are [Banksy] they say, ‘no you’re not’. And when you say, ‘I’m not,’ they say, ‘Yeah, sure you are.’ So you know what, fuck it,” he stated final 12 months.

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