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Art

Has Banksy painted a Big Issue vendor in Leeds?

The Big Issue has been the focus of street art in the past, but it’s not clear who’s behind the new mural in Leeds

A mysterious mural featuring a Big Issue vendor dressed in a Santa outfit has appeared in Leeds. 

It’s not yet clear who is behind the work but some are speculating it could be the doing of legendary street artist Banksy

Leeds Live reported the new painting had appeared on a brick wall in the Hyde Park area of the city on Thursday 7 January. 

In the piece, a man clad in festive gear sells the magazine and wears a red Big Issue jacket. 

Saima Rafique, 37, a nurse from Leeds who lives near the mural said the piece had been on display for over a week and was just being noticed now.

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“I think people are starting to recognise it now, but it’s been there for a week a half,” she told the Big Issue.

Rafique added she believed it was a Banksy and said it would be a “fantastic” thing for Leeds if the renowned artist claimed the piece.

“It would be absolutely amazing, especially knowing it’s around the corner from where we’ve all been raised and bought up in Leeds, definitely. It would put Leeds on the map,” she added.

Banksy, famous for his hard-hitting political artwork and elusive identity, usually confirms graffiti through his official Instagram account but hasn’t yet posted about the new work in Leeds. 

His most recent work, posted four weeks ago, is an ode to the pandemic. Titled “achoo”, the painting creates the illusion of a pensioner’s sneeze knocking over houses. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy)

It was, however, marked by controversy. The owners of the home in Bristol where the work appeared said it had delayed the sale of the property. 

Bansky also made headlines in October after a bicycle which accompanied a new mural disappeared. The council later confirmed it had been removed by the owner of the building for “safekeeping”.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy)

The Big Issue has been the focus of street art in the past. The mysterious artist Loretto painted famous faces selling the magazine in London in 2018. The pieces were later put on show at Portobello Road’s Graffik Gallery. 

The Big Issue has reached out to representatives of Banksy and Loretto to try and confirm the origin of the new artwork. 

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