A BBC interview with Banksy lost over the years may hold the key to the artist’s secret identity.
In the 2003 recording, British media reporter Nigel Wench asks him if his name is “Robert Banks,” and the artist replies, “Robbie.”
The full interview can be heard on BBC Sounds in The Banksy Story podcast.
A bonus episode of the podcast was specially created after the recording was discovered.
In it, Banksy compares his approach to art, which involves making graffiti undercover at high speed, to cooking food in a microwave oven.
“It’s quick,” says the Bristol-based artist, adding: “I want to be done and done with.”
This is one of the first known radio interviews with the artist, who is often described by the press as “mysterious” and “secretive”.
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Banksy’s true identity has never been revealed, but the interview gives his fans, who include many celebrities, a rare chance to hear his voice.
In the summer of 2003, the artist, then 20, spoke to Wench, a former BBC correspondent, at the opening of Banksy’s Turf War exhibition in East London.
An edited version was broadcast in July of that year on the BBC’s PM programme. However, not all materials are used.
Many years later, Wench listened to The Banksy Story podcast and it prompted him to restore the entire interview on minidisc in his home.
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The previously unknown materials include Banksy’s defense of vandalism as art. “I’m not here to apologize for that,” he says.
“It’s a quicker way to make your point, isn’t it? The same way my mum used to make a Sunday roast every Sunday and say, ‘it takes hours to make it, minutes to eat it’. And these days she eats meals than a one-person microwave oven, and she looks a lot happier. Actually, I approach art the same way.”
When pressed to answer whether graffiti is vandalism and illegal, Banksy has this advice for people:
“Go outside! Break things! Have fun!” he says, adding that other people can change your work or even get rid of it.
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Banksy became famous for a series of graffiti that appeared on buildings across the country and featured satirical motifs.
He is one of the most famous artists in the world, yet he prefers to keep his identity, at least officially, unknown.
In 2018, he stunned the art world when his painting “Girl with a Balloon” “self-destructed” in London, immediately after it was sold at auction.
The painting was originally stenciled on a wall in East London and was endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy’s most famous images, adds the BBC.