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Banksy Debunked?

A special Sleuth report: that Banksy we found may not be genuine

Published on June 18th 2010.

Banksy Debunked?

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

Michael Trainor one of Manchester’s more interesting artists, has cast doubt over Confidential’s exclusive revelation in May.

This was the one where we found, with the help of a reader, a Banksy artwork. Or thought we had. The work was revealed when an electricity substation was being cleaned in the Northern Quarter. Here’s the story, click here

The story was then picked up by media all over the country.

The City Council moved quickly to preserve the ‘Banksy’ behind a perspex cover so foolish types couldn’t attack it for reasons known only to them.

Our sceptic, Michael Trainor, has worked on the substation in question.

In 2004 he did the best of the artworks for Cowparade. He created the hilarious ‘cow attempting to deceive the butcher by pretending to be a fairground attraction’. This was placed on top of the Tib Street hardware and flashed and blinked throughout the several months of Cowparade.He is also well-known for his huge 2.4m diameter glitterball on Blackpool Prom.

Trainor’s been working in the Northern Quarter for decades and part owns the pink Department Store building on Thomas Street. His moustache is one of the five best in the city.

Trainor met up with Sleuth.

“As one of the few people who can claim to know as much minutiae of the recent history of the Northern Quarter as your good self, dear Sleuth, I’m troubled,” he said. “I’m pretty sure that the Banksy stencil on the Tib Street substation is actually by a man who we just knew as Tony.”

“Go on,” said Sleuth.

“Tony was a builder by day, he worked on our pink building in the NQ some years ago and by night he was a stencil spray artist,” Trainor said. “He did a rather fine Jimi Hendrix on the shutters of the building on the corner of Oak Street and Thomas Street, now Oi Polloi clothes shop - even the Council graffiti removal guys refused to clean it off. Someone drew a dick on it at one point and they actually cleaned just that part off. Bless them.

“I digress,” said Trainor. “But at the time I was running the Northern Quarter Gallery opposite. I know Tony did quite a lot of spray stencils around Manchester over a short period of time and I suspect the poodle/lion genetic crossover thing may well have been a homage to Mr Bansky. A lot of red wine has flowed under the bridge since then but I am sure that is correct - 99% certain.”

There was only one course of action. Sleuth put Trainor in a darkened room and subjected him to several unusual sense deprivation techniques. He didn’t break though and remains convinced about his story.

Sleuth wants to know if anybody can corroborate this. Confidential has registered a request with Banksy’s people to see if they will say yea or nay. The Council has as well. That might take some time.

Sleuth, Trainor and Confidential have called Tony on old mobile numbers and tried to locate him at various places he’s been known to work – such as set building at the Palace Theatre. But we’ve had no luck. The trail has gone cold.

Thankfully, Confidential, also wrote this on the original article. “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.”

This seems to be the case here.

Trainor made some other points too.

“Even if it is a Banksy it is the least interesting one I have ever seen,” he said, “so enshrining it in Perspex is a bit like saying ‘Come to Manchester – We’ve got less interesting graffiti than anywhere else’. Ironically this patch of spray paint which the Council rushed to preserve, sits at the base of the tower where Peter Freeman’s marvellous neon light tower, remains unlit and unloved.”

He paused for a minute before adding, “I can definitely confirm that lighting artist Peter Freeman did make that light tower.”

Sleuth’s been thinking about the whole situation. If nothing else, he reckons, the speed of the Council in attempting to preserve the ‘Banksy’ while provenance is sought, showed a healthy acceleration in reaction times for preserving cultural objects. Let’s hope this can be carried forward to the future. The Compulsory Purchase Order on the London Road Fire Station, monstrously treated by the worst hotel group in the UK, the Britannia Hotel lot, is another step in the right direction.

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

AnonymousJune 18th 2010.

can you please tell me who the 5 best moustaches in ciy are? Thanks

andywhiteJune 18th 2010.

Actually, Michael's moustache is now one of the 4 best in the city. The owner of number 3 had an accident with an over-enthusiastically filled Zippo.

Banksy sadJune 18th 2010.

I agree the gaining of this artwork and then it's rapid loss is less interesting than moustaches. But I for one am sad. I liked walking past the Banksy every morning and giving it a little nod. Now I just think it's shit which makes me really shallow because it means I only like stuff with a 'name' attached. I need a drink.

mJune 18th 2010.

Does anybody else remember the "bomb middle england" banksy stencil down tib street, that was just one of a number of "Banksy's" that were in the northern quarter years ago, before even it was known as the northern quarter.

LJJune 18th 2010.

Get the tower lit up again. For the whole 3 years I lived opposite it, it was only working for about 2 months. It's gaudy and totally brilliant. I've even got video of it somewhere, but that's another story...

Simone13024June 18th 2010.

Shock horror.

AestheticMessJune 18th 2010.

That tower is beautiful!

NQ TypeJune 18th 2010.

That tower is amazing, it really should be lit up again!!

nicJune 18th 2010.

Bullshit. Ive got pictures of the stencils when they was painted years ago. Its a Banksy, he did 2 of these same stencils in Manchester. And there is plenty of images of other Banksys in Manchester that have now been buffed. Bomb Middle England and Barcode.

AnonymousJune 18th 2010.

can't believe they perspexed it. *cringe*

Temporary HeroJune 18th 2010.

Hang about... no-one knows who Banksy is do tehy, so is it that much of a stretch of imagination to think that in the mid 90's he worked his way around the country graffiti-ing and stencilling as he went?

Disco pogoJune 18th 2010.

Sad how this type of vandalism is lorded. Yet on the whole vilified by council officials. serves the twerps right.

Simone13024, you and Neil okay

worotanJune 18th 2010.

No Jimmy Two Shoes, Banksy was well known by people into hip hop and street culture, and it was known and enjoyed when he came up to Manchester and did some graf. But it was 2001ish, not in the 90s. And a few of the buildings he drew on have been knocked down by the council, who never liked street culture till it started to make money. Or indeed, any culture till it starts to make money. Leave them in charge of the roads, not the streets - they seem to neglect that side of their brief in their hurry to tell us how to live our lives.

PAT KARNEYJune 19th 2010.

Fascinating stuff.I talked to the Manchester guy who knows all Banksy's works and he assured me it was the real stuff.I am glad I ordered a perspex for it as a lot of knob heads would have destroyed it .As it is "Robbo" has written over it a number of times .We have some checks out and will throw the book at him/her if we catch them. Interested if this story throws up more info.I was just talking about the Neon Tower the other day. I was at the opening --not sure if I opened that or the musical "tower" opposite I did one of them.Really up for getting this working again if possible although the town hall tells me ther were complaints from some residents .Do anything in this life and you get critics but life's short .Will keep you posted PAT

graf loverJune 19th 2010.

robbo is a graf artist from london who has been going over banksy tags in london as banksy went over one of his
its either him or a copycat he is known as king robbo or team robbo

PAT KARNEYJune 19th 2010.

Pre budget insomnia has me looking all over the site I have missed a lot of stuff recently .Where is this weeks sleuth? Why can't we have guest sleuths over the summer ? Saw Gordo last night---how does he do it? All that grub and booze and he looks like that. I pass Thornton's and put on weight.I need to revisit the conversation I had last year with him about some oxyogen( can't spell Jackson stuff ) tent diet.PAT

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 19th 2010.

Pat I love this idea. Do you want to start the guest Sleuth ball rolling?

slightly annoyed of salfordJune 19th 2010.

Why is a slightly dubious Banksy perspexed and all the lovely original manc graff removed? Thought the Council had a no graffiti policy........ or does it depend on whether the artist is a known name and actually be worth a few (thousand) quid?

and please light the lovely neon tower again!

poxy123June 20th 2010.

What does this story say about art lovers - if Banksy did do it then it's art, if Tony the Builder did it one night after knocking off from work then it's graffiti. Just tell us all what to think and we will duly oblige...

Richard13027June 21st 2010.

for the love of god take the perspex off

PAT KARNEYJune 21st 2010.

Sure I am up for sleuthing.Would it be embarrasing to talk fees on line,also who books the restaurants and lets talk riders.Hopefully I am getting this role right .Whats not negotiable I won't be gagged by man. con and man. council .Lets talk PAT

Mark Simm-SmithJune 24th 2010.

I think that all Banksys "works" would be vastly improved by the addition of a cock and balls, if there is a stream of spaff spewing forth from said fallace all the better, this would be both comic relief and critique.

duncanJuly 1st 2010.

there were indeed a number of banksy stencils over the NQ when i lived there, a number of years ago. (when cord and the old centro were the only bars and the deansgate locks crowd were still hanging in Loaf). They all followed a similar style as this one. Please relight the tower clr karney, it's a wasted folly as it presently is. Hopefully this will create a precedence for graffiti of artistic merit in the area, and hopefully beyond.

Private&ampConfidentialJuly 1st 2010.

"Sleuth´s been thinking about the whole situation. If nothing else, he reckons, the speed of the Council in attempting to preserve the ‘Banksy´ while provenance is sought, showed a healthy acceleration in reaction times for preserving cultural objects. Let´s hope this can be carried forward to the future." Shame they didn't start some 40 years previous before most of Manchester's built industrial heritage was destroyed forever. Lets hope another of Manchester's great architectural and cultural icons in Granada House does not go the same way should ITV move out to Mediacity.

PAT KARNEYJuly 1st 2010.

Still waiting for the neon tower report.As soon as I get it I will post.Ranted last night on the city centre new book story but it never came up Where is it tonight. PAT

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 1st 2010.

That would be great Pat, re-light our tower. As for the book report click on the culture section.

Ali McGowanJuly 3rd 2010.

Guest Sleuths? Fantastic idea. And worotan - the Council can't even get roads right... so many of our side roads are falling to bits, I wish they'd bring back the cobbles. Far more beautiful!

GreenflyAugust 3rd 2010.

someone should contact Liam Curtin to verify this....

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