The identity of Banksy, the mysterious graffiti artist who rose to fame for his provocative street art, has long been a closely-guarded secret.
But that hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most prolific artists of the 21st century, gaining attention for his outlandish stunts and politically-charged works.
And he’s just made headlines again, thanks to a new lockdown artwork that depicts a series of mischievous rats causing mayhem in his bathroom.
From dilapidated fairgrounds to wall-side murals, we’ve taken a look back at the artist’s legacy, picking out some of their best works from over the years…
Back in February this year, a new piece of artwork thought to be by Banksy appeared overnight in Bristol. The graffiti mural, which was spotted by locals on Valentine’s Day, features a stencilled image of a girl firing a slingshot of red flowers and leaves into the air.
Back in 2009, Banksy took an acerbic swipe at the UK parliament, depicting the Commons chambers filled with rows of chimpanzees. The oil-on-canvas painting went on to sell for an eye-watering $12 million at auction.
A garage wall in South Wales became the unlikely canvas for one of Banksy’s later works. The bittersweet artwork is a clever a trick of the eye; at first glance, it looks like a child catching snowflakes in his mouth, but with further study it becomes clear that the flakes are falling ash from a burning bin.
Banksy’s tongue-in-cheek take on Johannes Vermeer’s famous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ famously saw the artist replacing the girl’s earring with an outdoor security alarm. But the Bristol-based artwork is just as memorable for its defacement; black paint was splattered on the work by vandals just 24 hours after its appearance.
Girl with Balloon is one of Banksy’s most recognisable motifs: a series of stencil murals that depict a young girl with her hand extended towards a red heart-shaped balloon carried away by the wind. The murals originally appeared in various locations across London, and Banksy has used variants of the design to support social campaigns over the years.
The artwork eventually went viral again in 2018, when a framed copy of the work spontaneously shredded during an auction, thanks to a mechanical device Banksy had hidden in the frame.
Situated adjacent to a CCTV camera, Banksy’s statement on government surveillance cleverly depicts a child in a red hooded top painting the phrase, while being watched by a police officer and a dog. The 7-metre tall work is one of the artist’s largest.
Banksy threw the doors open to one of his most ambitious works in 2015 – a theme park on the seafront of Weston-Super-Mare. ‘Dismaland’ was a dystopian world which included a dingy looking Disney castle, a overturned pumpkin carriage and plenty more grisly sights.
The installation was shrouded in secrecy for months, and locals had been led to believe the construction site was a film set for a Hollywood thriller.
After Dismaland closed in September 2015, nothing was wasted. All the building materials were recycled into shelters for homeless migrants in Calais.