A provocative mural that draws parallels to Banksy has appeared on the side of a Poundland store in Wood Green, north London.
Local residents believe the work that made the statement about slavery ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee could be the real work of the illusory street artist.
However, James Straffon has now been revealed as the local artist behind the piece, which he says is a tribute to previous work by the street artist who appeared in the same place a decade ago.
Passersby spotted the artwork on Wednesday, which features a bunting of the United Nations flag emerging from a sewing machine at the base of a statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston – famous for its removal by Black Lives Matter protesters .
Strafon told independent: “I painted Ten Years a Slave on Saturday, May 14. Banksy chose this particular date in 2012 to place the work Slave Labour on the same wall in North London as a reference to the diamonds of the time. Anarchist responses to Jubilee celebrations and related paraphernalia – in this case mass-produced bunting. Sweatshops in the Far East.
“I was actively involved in a brief media frenzy when art was removed and subsequently included in a Miami auction, especially when our community felt a personal ‘violation’ of art ‘theft’.”
He added: “Ten Years a Slave is part of my attempt to bring the Banksy effect back to the original site and provide an endorsement to citizens who pass through proxy beacons.”
Art dealer and Banksy expert John Brandler of the Brandler Gallery in Essex told independent He believes Wood Green’s new mural could be the real Banksy.
He said: “This piece reminds me of his earlier work, where he featured fountains and statues. On the cover of his independent t-shirt company, as well as the flags from the Olympics 10 years ago and the complexity of the stencil work involved, I strongly think this is what Banksy did. References, signs and locations indicated to me that this was Banksy.
“In a year of great interest in the anniversary, I think Banks is having a good time. I know he’s going to be working really hard at Glastonbury and he’s doing a lot of work for Glastonbury and that’s the only reason I’m worried – It’s time to do both. It’s not your typical street art work by an unknown artist, but a very delicate work in a poignant place, so I think it’s his work.”
However, it later proved to be a tribute.
In May 2012, another artwork believed to be Banksy – Slave Labour (Bunting Boy), showing a young boy bending over to make a United Nations flag bunting on a sewing machine – appeared at Toll The same wall near the road station.
In February 2013, the wall and slave labor artwork disappeared. Soon after, another artwork believed to be Banksy’s, a rat holding a “Why?” sign, appeared next to where the artwork was.
Slave laborers then turned up at an auction house in Miami but were sent back to England after protests. It later sold for £750,000 at auction in London.
Straffon’s artwork in Wood Green is next to a mouse, which is covered by a protective cover.
It came ahead of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in early June, as many campaigners called for the royal family to apologise for its historical links to slavery.
Strafon added: “The work itself places the original sewing machine on a Colston pedestal – a recently remodeled statue in Bristol – with a long-standing link to the slave trade. It has always angered the enlightened population of the city.”