Who is the Banksy copycat? Graffiti star insists he isn’t behind Wizard of Oz-themed mural that appeared overnight in Birmingham street (just two streets from where Wicked the Musical is on)

  • Found on the side of the Sidewalk bar in the city’s Gay Village in Kent Street



A mystery piece of artwork that appeared overnight on a Birmingham street is not by world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy, it has been confirmed.

The Wizard of Oz-themed painting has appeared on the side of the Sidewalk bar in the city’s Gay Village in Kent Street. It depicts Dorothy reaching for her famous ruby red slippers, which have been hung over an electric cable nearby.

Phil Oldershaw, the director of the pub, said he was alerted to the mural’s appearance on the side of their property this morning and planned to protect it with Perspex. 

Its appearance has sparked speculation that it might be the latest work of the elusive artist, after a Birmingham-based art critic said the work had ‘all the hallmarks of Banksy’. 

However, he has not claimed the work on social media and a spokesman for the artist said: ‘This isn’t by the artist Banksy.’ 

The actual artist behind the Dorothy mural has not yet been revealed, but one theory being touted is that the etching is a plug for the new Wicked musical – which is being shown in the Birmingham Hippodrome this week. 

The painting of Dorothy has appeared on the side of the Sidewalk bar in the city’s Gay Village in Kent Street and has ‘all the hallmarks of Banksy’
The etching depicts the shoeless character reaching for her famous ruby red slippers
Her famous ruby red slippers have been hung over an electric cable nearby

Mr Oldershaw confirmed that his staff had no idea where the mural had come from and said there had been a ‘social media frenzy’ ever since it was painted. 

READ MORE: How we identified Banksy as a nice middle-class boy called Robin 16 years ago… but the at world refuses to accept it because the ‘mystery’ is such a cash cow

He said: ‘It wasn’t there when the manager locked up last night. It’s still a mystery. I’ve asked our maintenance team to go and cover it in perspex – I’m going to protect it whether it’s Banksy or not. It would be a great thing for Birmingham – and it makes Southside (the area of the city centre) look great too.’

Many believed the work was that of the famous underground artist, with Ruth Millington, an art historian and critic, telling the Mirror: ‘Banksy doesn’t just stick to 2D art, he plays with objects in real life. We can see the artwork interacting with the shoes on the telephone wire which is very clever. It’s also interesting to note that Banksy has used Dorothy in his art before, he likes putting her in interesting places. 

‘It’s also interesting to note that Banksy has used Dorothy in his art before, he likes putting her in interesting places.

‘Banksy does site-specific artworks which carry meaning too. Here we’ve got Dorothy in the Gay Village, and her red shoes definitely carry associations with gay and queer culture where she’s become a bit of an icon.

‘I think the timing is quite interesting too, we’re hearing a lot about the city’s cultural scene and the cuts it’s facing – and this could be Banksy drawing attention to that.

‘For me it’s got all the elements a Banksy would have, whereas copycat artwork tends to not include all of these elements together. There’s clearly thinking behind this artwork.’ 

However, Banksy did not to claim if the Kent Street mural is his own work, leading some people to argue that the art is part of a publicity stunt for the new Wicked musical, which is being shown in the Birmingham Hippodrome this week, less than half a mile from Kent Street. 

It would have been the second Banksy piece to be displayed in Birmingham, after the artist depicted a powerful message about homelessness onto the Jewellery Quarter in 2019. 

The painting depicted a pair of galloping reindeer and was defaced within hours of being unveiled, with the reindeers sprayed to have red noses.

Banksy is yet to claim if the Kent Street mural is his own work, leading some people to argue that the art is part of a publicity stunt for the new Wicked musical, which is being shown in the Birmingham Hippodrome this week
Banksy’s first work in Birmingham was a powerful message about homelessness depicted onto the Jewellery Quarter
His most recent work was seen on March 18, when a tree mural appeared on the side of a residential building in Finsbury Park

READ MORE: Residents claim local council ‘thinks a piece of art is more valuable than human life’ 

Banksy’s most recent work was seen on March 18, when a tree mural appeared on the side of a residential building in Finsbury Park, north London, which the artist claimed to be his via an Instagram post.

Islington Council elected to introduce security for the work, after vandals threw white paint over it soon after it was unveiled.

Residents of the adjacent block of flats slammed the decision, claiming the authority cared more about the artwork than human life.

Viewed as a cross between the Scarlet Pimpernel and Robin Hood, Banksy has acquired near cult status, lauded for holding the mighty to account with spray paint before retreating back into the urban undergrowth, whilst acquiring an overall fortune of £50million for his work.

After a year-long investigation in 2008, the Mail on Sunday claimed Banksy was a 50-year-old man called Robin Gunningham, after building a ‘mountain of evidence’.

Yet today, a quarter of a century since the first work appeared in his home city of Bristol, the myth of his true identity persists.

 

 

  

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