- 21 Nov 23
The identity of the British street artist and political activist pseudonymously known as Banksy has been the subject of speculation for many countless years — now, thanks to a previously lost BBC interview, the artist's first name may have been uncovered...
A lost BBC interview with Banksy has been unearthed, in which the enigmatic street artist reveals what his first name is.
In the 2003 interview, BBC reporter Nigel Wrench asks Banksy if he is "Robert Banks," to which the artist responds "it's Robbie." Variations of Robin, Robert and Robbie had been previously suggested in online theories.
The full Banksy interview can be heard via BBC sounds as part of Radio 4's The Banksy Story. A bonus episode of the podcast was specially recorded after the recording was discovered.
The interview also includes Banksy comparing his creative process - which involves producing graffiti undercover at speed - to microwaving meals. "It's quick," the Bristol artist said, adding: "I want to get it done and dusted."
The newly discovered recordings mark the earliest radio interviews with the artist, who is often described as "mysterious" and "secretive" by the press. Banksy's real identity has never been revealed, but the interview grants his enthusiasts —which include many A-list celebrities — a rare chance to hear his voice.
The artist - at the time in his 20s - was interviewed by Wrench, a former BBC arts correspondent, in the summer of 2003, to mark the opening of Banksy's Turf War show in east London. An edited version of the interview was aired that July on the BBC's PM programme. However, not all of the material was used. Many years later, Wrench was listening to The Banksy Story podcast, prompting him to recover the full interview saved to a minidisc in his house.
Banksy rose to prominence through a series of graffiti pieces that appeared on buildings across the country, marked by their often satirical critiques of the global socio-political landscape. He remains one of the most recognised street artists, yet he chooses to keep his identity private, often wearing a mask when he appears as Banksy in the public eye.
The never-heard-before interview also features Banksy defending vandalism as art.
"I'm not here to apologise for it," he told Mr Wrench. "It's a quicker way of making your point, right?
"In the same way my mother used to cook Sunday roast every Sunday and says every Sunday, 'it takes hours to make it, minutes to eat'."
"And these days she eats microwave meals for one and seems a lot happier. I'm kind of taking that approach to art really. I want to get it done and dusted."
When pushed on whether graffiti is vandalism and illegal, Banksy had this advice for people: "Go out! Trash things! Have fun!", he said, adding that others, in turn, could paint over your work.
"Other people, they can change it. They can get rid of it..."
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- 27 Sep 23