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Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 17:27 UK
'A very different kind of graffiti artist'

A Banksy artwork on Tib Street
Kelzo says the stencil is "definitely" the work of Banksy

The discovery of a forgotten Banksy on a Northern Quarter building has thrown up an old conundrum: is graffiti art or vandalism?

Kelzo, a long-established Mancunian street artist, has spent 20 years decorating the walls of Manchester and beyond.

He now has a studio in the Northern Quarter, around the corner from the discovered piece, and works with everyone from international companies to schoolchildren.

He says that the question is answered in one word: "permission".

"Graffiti is vandalism when you don't have permission and it's art when you do."

Yet that answer throws up another point, as Banksy doesn't ask anyone before putting up his work.

Kelzo believes it is a moot point, as Banksy is above the initial debate because he is very different to the average graffiti artist.

"A lot of graffiti artists will write their names. It's egotistical, it's about them, they're putting their name out in the open where people can view it.

"Just like the big corporations put their logos and images in front of our faces on a daily basis, that's what graffiti artists do - it's just they don't pay for the advertising space.

Kelzo
If I tried to keep every single artwork that I did, I'd need a housing estate for myself
Kelzo

"Banksy's work is different; it's forcing an opinion from the viewer.

"It's causing the viewer to question it and that's why his artwork has become so iconic.

"People can relate to the questions that his artwork asks or the comedy aspect [of the images].

"He has a sense of humour, which is almost anarchic - he's the Dick Turpin of the graffiti world.

"Graffiti artists, when they're young, want to play a cat and mouse game with the authorities and get their name seen.

"When they get older, they just want to paint for fun.

"Banksy's a very different kind of graffiti artist - he's racing around the world to wake the world up."

That said, Kelzo says he's neither in favour or against preserving Banksy's - or any other artist's - work, as for him, street art has to have transience.

"In the old days, when I was painting Hulme, it was an area that was condemned, so because the whole place was going, why not paint it?

"I get photographs of paintings that I've done and they can hold the memories of my time painting it.

"If I tried to keep every single artwork that I did, I'd need a housing estate for myself."

There's no doubt that the same would apply to the infamous Banksy, who Kelzo has known ever since the Bristol artist first brought his guerrilla stencils to Manchester.

"I know him quite well, I speak to him from time to time [but] I can't give away any personal details of who he is, because I've done my best to forget what they are.

Kelzo's artwork in Hulme
Kelzo has painted in Manchester for 20 years

"I know him as everyone else knows him, as Banksy.

"He appeared in Manchester in the late 1990s and he went round putting his stencils up.

"At the foot of Piccadilly Approach, there used to be an Indian takeaway - he painted a Mona Lisa with a rocket launcher on the side of that.

"It was there for ages, a good two years, and then they bulldozed that restaurant; at the time, I don't think people were that bothered who he was.

"He did about 12 stencils, but they've all disappeared with the regeneration of the city centre."

But one, it seems, has escaped the bulldozers and now there's even a suggestion that the street it stands on will be named after the artist.

Kelzo's response to such a suggestion is simply to say that "if Manchester City Council wants to name a street Banksy Street, that's entirely up to them.

"But every city in the world is going end up with a Banksy, so every city will end up with a Banksy Street too."

The Banksy work can be seen on the electricity substation on Tib Street

Kelzo's work can be seen across Manchester and more about his work can be found at Graffiti Walls and his website




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