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Is this Banksy? Forgotten interview with elusive graffiti artist uncovered from ITV tape vaults

Is this Banksy?

A 'forgotten' television interview with a man who claims to be the elusive graffiti artist has been discovered in the vaults of ITV News.

The report was filmed ahead of Banksy's Turf War exhibition in 2003 where he is seen stencilling a black insect on to a wall, as well as painting a picture of a baby with blocks spelling "KILL MORE".

Both pieces have long been attributed to the artist.

This is one of the only times a man thought to be Banksy has voluntarily appeared on camera. Credit: ITV News

The two-minute report, by ITV London Tonight reporter Haig Gordon, features the artist speaking for 35 seconds.

He is wearing a baseball cap and has a T-shirt pulled over his lower face, but his eyes, eyebrows and forehead are visible.

Banksy says: "I’m disguised because you can’t really be a graffiti writer and then go public. The two things don’t quite go together."

The clip was discovered by ITV West Country's Robert Murphy, who, when searching the archives for other Banksy footage, was amazed to find a library entry with the catalogue listing "Interview with Banksy".

If it is Banksy, it could be the only time the secretive stenciller has been interviewed on-screen by a mainstream television crew.

Robert then contacted Haig, who had forgotten that he interviewed Banksy in Dalston, north-east London, 16 years ago.

Mr Gordon says: “It’s strange, there’s a great value attached to any sight of him (Banksy), I had a full sight of him, and I’ve completely squandered it. Thrown it away by not remembering!"

I saw his face. The only problem is I can’t remember what his face looked like

– Haig Gordon
The interview was filmed ahead of Banksy's Turf War exhibition in July 2003. Credit: ITV News

He added: “I don’t think I could say a single thing about what he looked like. Isn’t that dreadful?

“He was relaxed, he was laid-back, he was amiable. I quite took to him. I was dreading a pretentious arty-farty type. But he was very pleasant.

“He reacted very well when I made a joke just before the camera was rolling. I said ‘Right Banksy, what will you do if I take that (the t-shirt) off during the interview?’ and he just laughed, he knew I wasn’t meaning it.

"I have no evidence on which to make an assessment on whether this was the real Banksy or not.

"But it seemed like an organised event. The press officer seemed like a normal press officer who wouldn't be playing a trick on the media.

"We got the footage of him doing things without a disguise and we had a conversation without the disguise."

THE ARCHIVE INTERVIEW:

Banksy's anonymity has long been a source of his mystery, and it is not thought he has ever appeared on camera since.

In his film Exit Through The Giftshop, Banksy is filmed as a hooded silhouette and his voice is distorted.

The man is seen painting a picture of a baby with blocks spelling Credit: ITV News

The Turf War event was an exhibition which helped Banksy carve a worldwide reputation for offbeat, subversive, humorous art.

He decorated live farm animals, painted sheep as blue zebra, cattle with ‘this way up’ signs and stencilled blue patrol car colourings on pigs.

Describing why, Banksy told Haig: "It's hard to make an entertaining picture at the best of times but at least if you have something that wanders around and licks its nose and urinates in front of you it's going to make the picture a bit more interesting.

When asked about spraying "Designated Riot Area" on Nelson's Column, just two days prior, he adds that he "thought that was quite funny."

Richard Jones is a director of Tangent Books, which has published several books about Banksy and Bristol street art, says the footage is "really unusual" and "very, very rare".

"His anonymity is something which is very, very important to him," Mr Jones said.

"I often wonder what it must be like living your life anonymously. It must be so strange, going through layers of hiding your identity.

"I wonder how he feels about being the most famous current artist in the world but nobody knowing who he is apart from a small group of people."