Do we really care who the person behind the Banksy moniker really is? Well, in 2015 the Daily Mail “revealed” that one Robin Gunningham, a public school educated person is indeed Banksy. However, this has never been officially confirmed and collectors of the artist’s work don’t seem to mind who is behind the art and art dealers won’t accept that works signed Robin Gunningham should be classified as being by Banksy.
In the past decade, everything that Banksy seems to have had a hand in has escalated in value; even record and CD covers with his art have become sort after collectors items. Now there are literally hundreds of such covers floating around among collectors but only a few are offically authorised as being by Banksy. The vast majority are covers that use the artist’s works, often subtly modified to suit the us
The earliest authorised Banksy covers are for the Bristol hip hop band One Cut (or OneCut) released on Jamie Eastman’s Hombré label between 1998 and 2000. In 1999 John Stapleton asked Bansky to stencil 100 promotional covers for the Capoeira Twins 12″ single 4 x 3 / Truth Will Out.
At about the same time Banksy had been with the Easton Cowboys football team on their tour to Chiapas, Mexico, where he painted some murals. A cassette of revolutionary songs Called Canciones electorales was released using Banksy’s painting of a Zapatista on the inlay. The cassettes were white, yellow and red and produced in limited quantities.
Back to the artist named Robin Gunningham. Sometime in the mid to late 1990s a guy called Robin visited Leicester and designed the logo for the dub organisation the Vibronics, whose owner, Steve ‘Vibronics’ Gibb is sure must have been Banksy.
More certain, are the covers for two cassettes released by the Bristol group Mother Samosa in 1993 and 1994. The cassette inlays are both credited to Robin Gunningham. Assuming Gunningham to be Banksy, then these cover designs are probably the first “Banksy” covers. The first cassette was called Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown (1993), and reputedly also released as a CDr at the time. The second was Fairground of Fear (1994). The cassettes were produced as limited editions and I have thus far never seen one.
I was lucky to get hold of printers proofs of these two cassette inlays in late 2020. I recently read that a set of these had been up for sale by Art Broker in 2018 with an estimate of GBP 4000! I got mine from a oen-time friend of the band.
In 2006 and 2007 the band reissued the remastered albums as limited edition Digipak CDs. The first was the nine-track Oh My God It’s Cheeky Clown, while the second, the Fairground of Fear album was released on Digipak CD with only 11 of the original twelve tracks (track five on the tape’s side two Wallace P. Bowl was omitted from the CD.) The person who sold me the cassette inlays contacted me again in early December 2022 and offered me the two CDs, which duly arrived before Christmas!
According to my supplier, these Digipak CDs were released in editions of one hundred numbered copies with a handful released unnumbered. Neither of my CDs is numbered.
Now, I suppose I will have to continue my search for the original cassettes.