Banksy’s former right-hand man has released a set of previously unseen photographs of one of the anonymous street artist’s audacious public installations.
Steve Lazarides ― who chronicles the 11 years he spent working with the artist in his new book “Banksy Captured” ― this week shared with HuffPost a series of newly resurfaced images he took of a stunt they pulled together in London’s busy Piccadilly Circus in 2003.
Banksy transformed a helium-filled sex doll into a child being carried into the sky by a gigantic McDonald’s-branded balloon for the piece, one of several similar installations he unleashed on unsuspecting passersby in the English capital in the early noughties.
Lazarides explained how Banksy taped the doll’s legs to shorten its height and came up with a genius way of anchoring the piece to a lamppost that involved looping the wire around the doll’s ankle.
Banksy fled the scene soon after attaching the artwork. Lazarides remained in place to take photographs of the reaction. He recalled being particularly tickled by the response from police officers.
“It was hysterical. I sat there and watched three or four groups of police drive by, take a look at it, stop, think ‘fuck this’ and go,” he remembered.
“It’s a bit like the line from ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ that it’s a ‘Someone Else’s Problem Field,’” he added. “They thought we could do something about this, but 1,000 tourists are going to take our picture and we’re going to look like absolute dicks, so they just drove off.”
The piece remained in place for six hours “until helium started slowly leaking out and the whole thing ended with it being ingloriously hit by a bus,” Lazarides said.
But at no point did the pair (who were the only ones in on the stunt) fear being arrested, said Lazarides.
“It’s amazing. If you think in this new era, the chance of being able to do that and not be tracked by CCTV the minute you leave your house is now zero,” he said. “It’s insane what we got away with back then.”
Lazarides, who like Banksy hails from Bristol in southwest England, released the first volume of his book documenting his time with the artist earlier this month.
It features hundreds of images he took from 1997 until 2008. Many of the pictures existed only as film negatives in boxes in his attic until two years ago, when he began the arduous task of scanning them.
Banksy himself features in some of the shots, always with his face obscured.
The book’s initial print run of 5,000 sold out in 23 hours. A second run, featuring a different cover, is now on sale.
Lazarides said he was “ecstatic” at the response and is now planning a second volume with different images, possibly including the long-forgotten floating girl ones that he discovered on an old hard drive last week.
“It was like finding a little pot of gold,” he said. “It’s another element that cements the story of his early career that, without trying to sound like too much of a twat, it’s like documenting the birth of a legend.”