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Genuine Banksy found: should we save it?

Jonathan Schofield gets a tip off about a poodle that thinks it's a lion

Written by . Published on May 12th 2010.

Genuine Banksy found: should we save it?

The electricity substation on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter is revealed.

If it isn't a Banksy then oops, sorry for wasting your time. Therein lies another problem with the fella, he's witty, sharp and effective, but he can easily be mimicked.

It has been cleared of an ill-conceived scheme to 'green' it, that involved covering the substation with a mesh fence and sticking plants through it. These all died. The pretty idea has been pretty dismal for most of the eight years (or something) it's been up.

The stripping of the fence has revealed a work by one of the most voguish of 'artists'. For lo! Manchester has a Banksy. Or at least it looks very much like it.

The piece shows a pampered poodle body with a lion's head. It's not in the best condition, then again it's not completely gone either. It could be rescued if we wanted. Or rather if the City wanted.

Confidential asked a worker on the site what's going to happen to the substation. “Repainted in a week's time or something,” came the reply. The Council press office is looking into what might happen.

We can debate long and hard about the merits of stencil-tastic Banksy. Some think he's a proper, cracking, top artist.

Perhaps it's more accurate to call him a clever cartoonist, one who uses graffiti to subvert our institutions and attitudes. He's more Cruickshank and Gillray than Hogarth or Hockney. The former two gents mercilessly lampooned monarchs, politicians and society 200 years ago.

Gillray mocking Britain and France carving up the world

Like them back in their day Banksy is representative of his times, our times. He captures an individual's feelings of helplessness, of being too small to influence the big decisions; he exposes an establishment so obsessed by security it threatens the freedoms it would protect, he mocks the form over substance weakness of 'celebrity' culture.

Why the poodle with a lion's mane? Is this a comment on the pretensions of the Northern Quarter, or on the shallowness of vanity, or the emptiness of pride? It's intriguing.

Of course Banksy chose to place his pieces on the street. Through graffiti. He knew by doing this, they must be temporary. So shall we save it?

If it isn't a Banksy then oops, sorry for wasting your time. Therein lies the main problem with the enigmatic fella, he's witty, sharp and effective, but he can easily be mimicked.

Thanks to the tip off from our reader, Charles Woolley. Now that big question again. When the substation gets re-painted should the Council make sure the Banksy survives?

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81 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DescartesMay 12th 2010.

This really deserves restoring, but will that send the wrong message after the council has spent so much time painting over so much of the art around the city centre? (Because it is art (teenage tags aside I mean)).

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 12th 2010.

Just had this from the Council. 'We've checked on this and, you're quite right, it was covered over for ages and now that it has been uncovered we have decided not to do anything further until some relevant culture vultures have taken a look. We'll take a view on authenticity and then make a determination if we should preserve it in some way.'

AlfieMay 12th 2010.

It looked awful with all that horrible grass on it as was that banksy must be ages old!

Temporary HeroMay 12th 2010.

Brilliant, it'd be such a shame for this to be painted over like they did in Liverpool. Descartes is right, tagging is terrible but proper graffiti can look amazing, can't wait for the live stuff at Eurocultured in May.

andywhiteMay 12th 2010.

Is it just me or is that a bulldog's head? If so, surely it's a "poodle that thinks it's a lion that thinks it's a bulldog"?

AlfieMay 12th 2010.

PS it has a Lions main but the head of the bulldog from Tom and Jerry!

brislMay 12th 2010.

There are a few that have been painted over on Charles Street, including the bowling bombs one which is on the side of the building where the nursery is based. The poodle lion was also on one of the doors down a side street off Charles Street. Banksy clearly paid us a visit or two!

GooseyMay 12th 2010.

I was in the erstwhile Zumbar (now Odder) on Oxford Road years ago when Banksy was caught by the owner (Papa Smurf Kevin for those that remember him) 'graffitiing' the bogs. Keving went mental and dragged him off to get bleach and a scrubbing brush, standing there over him while he made him clean it off, oblivious to the fact if he just removed the tile concerned from the wall he could probably retire on the proceeds. Epic fail, as I believe the kids say these days.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 12th 2010.

It just struck me that during Cowparade in 2004 the best of all the cows was the one on this substation called 'A cow trying to hide from the butcher by pretending to be a fairground attraction'. Or something like that. This was by Michael Trainor and was a cow covered in a thousand flashing lightbulbs. It was funny. Curious though that this substation seems to attract works portraying animals trying to be something else.

AnonymousMay 12th 2010.

Someone will chuck paint on it or try and remove it and put it on ebay in the next 72 hours. And we didn't bother saving any of the others (this same piece was on a piece of sand stone by a car park behind canal street and bombing middle england on the side of the slug and lettuce on deansgate). The council are wankers too, why bother spending time and money for people to authenticate it - it's real, if you want to save it get on it becuse after this article some scamp will be round there to have it away.

Leigh ScottMay 12th 2010.

can we not ask him?

AgricolaMay 12th 2010.

Scoteee, the thing is, the most famous thing about Banksy, is that nobody knows who is he is and he never ever gives interviews

marshaluanMay 12th 2010.

Are we actually sure it a genuine banksy as he doesnt usually sign his work.

rowjamMay 12th 2010.

Agricola and Scotee, Banksy may be anonymous but his agent isn't.

AnonymousMay 12th 2010.

I agree with Marshaluan, probably not genuine.

TourmanMay 12th 2010.

Just to clear up a point made by Jimmy Two Shoes, here in Liverpool the Banksy has NOT been painted over it is on the side of a building in Berry St. close to the Anglican Cathedral and well worth a visit. The building was sold to a "developer" who said he was not interested in art and would probably paint over it. He has since learnt the error of that statement and wants to save the Liverpool Banksy, the one in Manchester should be saved.

SaragMay 12th 2010.

Hey Jonathan, I think that 'lightbulb' cow was bought at the cow parade auction by some good friends of mine, themselves Manchester bar owners. It's currently a star attraction in their South Manchester garden. We have spent many a night, pint in hand, basking in it's glow!
Oh and I think the 'Banksy', real or not deserves saving.

pedroMay 12th 2010.

If it was under the green stuff, it's definitely genuine. No-one was faking Banksys 8 years ago.

The Northern Quarter was also a very different place back then so I'm not sure that it would be a comment on the NQ's pretensions.

It's also the right part of town to be Banksy judging by the location of work by some of his associates. There is a Space Invader on Salmon Street and another on the little road by the side of Pee Wee's Hairdressers / BJ Products.

AnonymousMay 12th 2010.

Wrong, Banksy more often than not tagged his early work, it's only since the middle classes discovered him that he has tended to drop theiconic tag from his street work. This piece probably dates from pre 2000, back when you could buy a canvas from pictures on walls for £50. I am fairly sure this is genuine, in fact I think the image (not in this location) is included in one of his books.

caspar14130May 12th 2010.

Another strong clue this is genuine is the lack of feet - banksy is notoriously crap at them, be it animal or human.

Lewis AbbottMay 12th 2010.

This is defo Genuine. I can remember it from time ago. I have been around the Northern Q in Manc since i was about 14 in 1994 and i am sure htis is the real thing people. It needs saving along with the Dose piece by the side of it.


Temporary HeroMay 12th 2010.

Is he?

But he uses stencils Caspar, how can he be crap at spraying paint on a stencil of a foot?

Lawrence15701May 12th 2010.

No, but make it a blank Canvas and lets get something amazing on there a la Stevenson Square, done by a local. That would be awesome.

NmdoseMay 12th 2010.

yeah it is real an thats my bombin next to it so if they save his an buff me !! i'll buff him an get back up ..

NmdoseMay 12th 2010.

if you look around town theres a fair few u just gotta no where to look !

AnonymousMay 12th 2010.

Seriously check out the work on his website, all the feet are rubbish.

Jay ZeavisMay 12th 2010.

There was another one down by what was/is Fred Perry on Police street. The leopard barcode one, it was in that aly next to the shop...


Mike11331May 12th 2010.

If it is genuine we will preserve it.

JennMay 12th 2010.

That Cow is now owned by folk's involved with the Kro empire; It travelled to Glastonbury with the Kro franchise and was unsurprisingly painful to mount!

pikeMay 12th 2010.


Johnny 3 dicksMay 12th 2010.

just waiting for my avatar to up-load

NuikMay 12th 2010.

Pike you utter bore. I bet you yawn at everything.

DescartesMay 12th 2010.

Have you seen this? Agents of change doing live graffiti in a secret Manchester location as part of FutureEverything: http://www.aoc03.com

Smyth HarperMay 12th 2010.

Nuik, leave Pike alone - maybe he's just tired...

Temporary HeroMay 12th 2010.

Damn, I was going to say that Smitty.

Nick DobieMay 12th 2010.

dont restore it as it will ruin the image , as for signed . banksy only signs his work if he as sprayed it himself .

more banksy street graffiti pictures here...


PikeMay 12th 2010.

Smitty's right. I'm very tired... I was up all night wondering what colour to paint the sub station.

deli llamaMay 12th 2010.

i second that emulsion.

J E SibberingMay 12th 2010.

Banksy's identity was revealed a while back:


AnonymousMay 12th 2010.

It's a British Bulldog and a French Poodle.

John18753May 12th 2010.

This matches the 3 monkeys he did up near the Castle Hotel back around 2001/2.. shame they didn't survive as some idiot painted over them

JaguarMay 13th 2010.

Anonymous it's a not a poodle and bulldog. Compare the two closely, the ears, shape of face and much else are very different. It's a lion and a poodle. That' a better image as well.

Leigh ScottMay 13th 2010.

Jaguar, go and have a look at it ,it's a bull dog's face with a lions main and a poodle body

Temporary HeroMay 13th 2010.

Is anyone else thinking "that sounds like my exgirlfriend"?

DescartesMay 13th 2010.

Nah; I've never met your exgirlfriend Jim.

AnonymousMay 13th 2010.

Is she life Jim, but not as we know it?

Lovely tackleMay 13th 2010.

That was my ex-girlfriend Jimmy. Did you steal her? Mind you she loved some stick action.

lizMay 13th 2010.

Likely to be genuine so it should stay there. Considering Manchester council has done next to nothing for the art scene anyway compared to other cities, removing such a piece of urban art for the sake of painting a sub-station would be ridiculous! I'm surprised it's come to be questioned.

Smyth HarperMay 13th 2010.

Hmmm, Liz, you been to Manchester Art Gallery recently? One of the best in the country? Owned by, er, the council.

Kevin CleverMay 13th 2010.

Liz what about Manchester International Festival?

P GMay 13th 2010.

Liz are you an artist? The good thing about Banksy is that he doesn't need a subsidy or Council support. Why can't artists be self-sufficient? Or at least find their own patronage rather than waiting for gov handouts. I suspect that there are loads of really crap artists being subsidised and if all the subsidies were cut they'd go away and only the truly talented would remain. Roll on that day.

Smyth HarperMay 13th 2010.

Let's not forget the Costume Gallery...

Smyth HarperMay 13th 2010.

Or the fabulous Manchester Day, which is putting dozens of local artists together with community groups across the city for the best beanfest we've seen in years! (yes, I work for the council!) http://www.themanchesterdayparade.co.uk/

DescartesMay 13th 2010.

Wow, couldn't have said it better P G. But alas, we're stuck with all the toss they call modern art because some wig in the arts council got drunk once an lost a bet.

Smyth HarperMay 13th 2010.

Also, Queer Up North - best gay arts festival in the world done with council support http://www.queerupnorth.com/ I'll stop now!

Temporary HeroMay 13th 2010.

P G/Smitty, I think what Liz meant was why can't SHE get a subsidy off the council, and why does HER work not get the support she clearly feels she's due.

Smyth HarperMay 13th 2010.

Now Jimmy that's just cynicism. You should go to the People's History Museum to get that out of your system. Wait! It's had council support as well! http://www.phm.org.uk

NQ GirlMay 13th 2010.

In response to Pedro - you're dead right. I have lived in the NQ for 11 years and the substation was covered about 8 years ago, a totally daft idea right from the start. It was filled with moss, which of course needs a lot of watering...and it died within a month.
I am sure this is a Banksy piece as it must have been there for over 8 years, maybe even longer because I am sure the substation was covered in brown tiles (like the NCP opposite) before the moss mistake. In addition Banksy wasn't as well recognised then so I can't imagine anyone copying his work.

The NQ was a totally different place 8 years ago, so the editorial that the Banksy piece is commenting on the pretensions of the NQ is somewhat flawed...

MadonnaMay 13th 2010.

I think the writer means that at that time the NQ was a mere poodle trying to be a lion. Mind you if the head is a bulldogs then that doesn't make sense.And does anybody else think that the NQ hasn't moved on that much in the last eight years.

Temporary HeroMay 13th 2010.

Heh, so it sounds like there's rather a large amount of council funded/supported art in the CC. Didn't see that coming!

SaraSMay 13th 2010.

Save! It's defo a bulldog's head, the irony would be lost if it was a lion unless it had pussy cat feet. For the record, I quite like the camo-like plant covered building, better than boring white paint. Reinstate the shrubbery and use it to frame the art.

AgricolaMay 13th 2010.

Someone explain the symbolism of bulldog/poodle someone?

AnonymousMay 13th 2010.

Save it - the substation will get graffitied anyway if they repaint it!

ChrisMay 13th 2010.

The thing about Banksys work by his own admission is that it is not supposed to last forever and this is why he does the type of artwork he does.

AnonymousMay 13th 2010.

I like the piegion-ish obj on the wall of the car-park, rather than this poodle.

Love save the day could not save themselves around here..long time ago..
Just nostalgic...

Gordon Brown - estuary douchbagMay 13th 2010.

Dibigo Piquionne ?
Well done - I wondered when a 'cool' bigoted local would speak up and it was you. Congratulations ! Manchester for Mancunians, London for everybody, Newcastle for Geordies, Birmingham for Brummies eh ?

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 14th 2010.

Anonymous, those pigeons were done by the inimitable duo of Liam Curtin and Wendy Jones.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMay 14th 2010.

Dear Dibigo Piquionne I've taken hundreds of guests and journalists from around the world to the Northern Quarter in my other job as a tour guide and they have judged it 'cool'. And I've even been to Cord and really enjoyed it. And clearly the locals pack out the NQ and enjoy it too. If you don't like the area then I'm sure there are many more 'genuine' places - whatever they are - around Greater Manchester for you to get hammered in at good value. As for your narrow-minded northernness (or Manc-ness) study your history, the city was built by incomers as much as locals. When Manchester's being its best, it's an open-minded, welcoming place: at its worst it can be a whinning, sneering city. I know which one I would choose.

Peter GreeneMay 14th 2010.

Dibigo, why not use your real name like the editor did? And calm down, why are you so angry?

My ArseMay 14th 2010.

...is my real name

AnonymousMay 14th 2010.

Paint over it, may as well do, the council paint over the rest of the art in the NQ usually with unsightly black paint which looks 100 times worse than what they've painted over.

Gordon BrownMay 14th 2010.

Dibigo....What is your point ? what is the point you make ? & what is the point of you ? apart from being a made-up-name full of bile, hatred, wind and piss ?? When you have left school and realise that the World you inhabit is not the centre of the Universe you may, but only may, appreciate that by travelling, meeting other people and living in different countries you become a more tolerent and rounded personality. Unless of course you are happy being a total twat

AnonymousMay 14th 2010.


David AshMay 14th 2010.

I hear Banksy attracts bears! Well done.. Youv'e gone and put the whole of the Northern Quarter in jeopardy!

AnonymousMay 14th 2010.

About pigeons, Liam Curtin and Wendy Jones may be on the "Majolica Works" on confidential article? (this is also a NQ story??)
Thank you, Jonathan (editor)

NoonyMay 14th 2010.

The more I looked at it, it just bugged me it's doesn't look like a poodle. I have just filled in the missing bits. It looks like a lions rear with the fur at the tip of it's tail, right up to the mane. The bull dogs head then has a spiked collar around it's neck. Just finishing my stencil. There will be hundreds around by the end of next week.

AgricolaMay 14th 2010.

Banksy is a moment in time not a memory. He's a great artist in the same way Duran Duran were, in other words not. He's got one good idea

AgricolaMay 15th 2010.

The more I look at this I thin that Banksy is ok, funny, but too lefty right-on to really matter.

AnonymousMay 17th 2010.

The problem with Banksy is that he's not very good, and this is a particularly bad example of his work. Shouldn't he be prosecuted for vandalism? That is why he doesn't make his identity public or give interviews..because graffitti is criminal damage, clearly this has also proved a useful marketing tool. Paint over it...you can't say graffitti is wrong ..unless they are a bit famous..
This clearly has no artistic value, and as it can't be sold it has no monetary value. It's just a bit shit and the typeface is awful as well.

AnonymousMay 18th 2010.

i saw this yesterday and a little wooden frame and plexiglass cover has been put up over it, glad to see its staying. although from the look of the construction of what is supposed to be preserving it it may not be around for long

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