Is it or isn’t it a Banksy? Street artist battle over Nottingham’s hula-hooping girl

The sudden appearance of a street artwork in Nottingham has sparked a row over the painting’s attribution.

The black and white mural of a young girl hula-hooping with a disused bicycle tyre appeared on the side of a beauty salon on the corner of Rothesay Avenue in Lenton on Tuesday 13 October. A battered bike with one tyre missing was also chained to a lamp post just in front of the artwork. 

According to the owner of the salon, 42-year-old Surinder Kaur, the bike appeared at the same time as the mural. Kaur also said the council arrived within hours of the work’s discovery to protect it with plastic sheeting.

Birmingham-based street artist, Itchers, claimed the work as his own on Friday 16 OctoberMere hours later, the internationally-renowned artist, Banksy, posted a photograph of the work to his official Instagram page. This has been interpreted by many as confirmation that he is responsible for the mural and prompted a deluge of street art enthusiasts to visit the now famous hula-hooping girl.

28-year-old Itchers, who also goes by the name ‘Hers’, says he is “flabbergasted” by Banksy’s actions. “It’s definitely mine, I’m not sure what he is doing to be honest”, the artist mused, “I don’t know what to think about it, whether he is trying to help me out and show support or completely take credit for it”. Itchers continues to reiterate his claim to the work and insists he even has a copy of the stencil he used to paint it to prove his claim.

This isn’t the first time Itchers has butted heads with Banksy. The artist explained there has “been some beef” between them in the past. “To be honest it was to do with the red nose I drew on his reindeer in Birmingham but it is art, things evolve and it’s nice to have additions to your work”, Itchers opined. The latest incident appears to have escalated tensions. Itchers says he “wants answers” from Banksy as to why the multi-million pound grossing artist insists he is the creator of the hula-hoop mural.

While the attribution battle rages on, the mural at its centre has proved an instant hit with local residents who believe it is a Banksy. Hundreds of people flocked from Nottingham and further afield over the weekend to catch a glimpse of the rollicking little girl gleefully tossing her makeshift hula hoop.

Nottingham has appeared in recent news headlines after earning the ignominious honour of having the highest rate of coronavirus infections in England. Local residents are pleased that the city is finally enjoying some positive press thanks to the artwork’s appearance. It is even thought by some to pay tribute to the Lenton/Radford area’s history as a former hub of industry for companies like Raleigh the bicycle-maker.

One local resident, Natty B, recalls playing with abandoned bicycle parts while growing up in the area, just like the hula-hooping girl in the mural. “He has seen the local heritage – this artwork is Nottingham. I’m amazed and overwhelmed it is here”, enthused the 59-year-old fitness instructor adding, “[59-year-old%20fitness%20instructor]But then again why shouldn’t a corner of Radford deserve a piece of international art?”

Another local resident, 39-year-old care assistant Jasinya Powell, was so delighted when she discovered the work, she turned her car around just to take a photograph. At first, she thought it couldn’t possibly be a genuine Banksy but was thrilled when the artist confirmed it as his creation. “I’m really really happy it was real. He’s obviously seen something in this city… it is really uplifting”.

With the Banksy attribution in place, the work is now believed to be worth more than the average price of a house on Rothesay Avenue where it is painted (£214,280). Would the salon owner whose wall it appeared on, enjoy a cut of any potential sale of the work? “Unfortunately I don’t own the property, I am renting”, Kaur said, acknowledging that as a tenant she would not be entitled to any proceeds.

This is in keeping with the precedent laid down in The Creative Foundation -v- Dreamland Leisure Limited & Ors [2015] EWHC 2556 (Ch), one of the first cases dealing with ownership of street art and in particular, Banksy, which was fought successfully by Boodle Hatfield’s specialist art litigation team.

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