Tauranga to host major Banksy exhibition

A Banksy artwork (supplied)
A Banksy artwork (supplied)

Tauranga will host the most extensive collection of Banksy works in the southern hemisphere next year, as part of the Paradox: Tauranga Street Art Festival.

The exhibition in March will showcase the Oi YOU! Collection of 22 originals by the notorious British street artist.

George Shaw, who jointly owns the Oi YOU! Collection with his wife Shannon Webster, says he's excited to see the festival take place.

"Since 2010, we have produced a series of street art shows both in New Zealand and Australia attracting broad audiences, but this is our first on the North Island and we are fond of Tauranga, a city you wouldn't think of street art in the first place," Mr Shaw says.

Banksy first appeared in the grimy alleyways of Bristol and East London.Two decades on, 'supposed' sightings of his works still send the internet into a frenzy - like one of controversial Australian MP Pauline Hanson, which popped up in Melbourne a couple of days ago.

That coincided with an exhibition held there by Banksy's former manager, Steve Lazaredus - but the organiser of the Tauranga exhibition is suspicious about how genuine the new sighting was.

"It's a show that's not approved of by Banksy as far as I understand it so I would be sort of surprised if Banksy's in Melbourne at the moment but you never know," says Mr Shaw.

Mr Shaw does have a good relationship with "Banksy's people" because unlike Mr Lazaredus, he won't charge people to view his collection at the Tauranga Art Gallery next March.

Mr Shaw bought his first Banksy 10 years ago for about a hundred dollars - they're now worth around $200,000.

He says there's only one scenario in which he'd consider selling.

"It spends too much of its time not on display in storage so I think if there was an opportunity to have it permanently on show that would definitely be of interest to us," he says.

Earlier this month, a British journalist reported Banksy was actually Robert Del Naja from the band Massive Attack, who just happened to be on tour in New York in 2013 - when an unsuspecting Kiwi tourist bought Banksy originals for US$60 each from a street stall.

But with Banksy's true identity still unconfirmed, it's hard to know if a personal visit to Tauranga is on the cards.


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