Is Banksy in Belfast? Signature 'rats' start popping up ahead of Breed exhibition
Will elusive urban street artist Banksy pay a visit to Belfast for an exhibition featuring his work?
Breed opens at The National Grande Cafe tomorrow, with work by Banksy and other contemporary artists such as Antony Micallef, Paul Insect, Herakut, Faile and more on display.
Speculation is growing that the mysterious urban artist could be in town after a number of Banksy-style rats "appeared" on surfaces in the Cathedral Quarter and Lisburn Road.
Last night curator Neil Kerr told the Belfast Telegraph it would be great if Banksy did visit the city, but whether he was here or not, the exhibition was a "strong show of work of this nature".
Neil said since 2008 he had been asked by arts sector colleagues to stage an urban art exhibition in Belfast and now it was happening.
"It was a pretty surreal position to find myself in, as I hadn't planned on being an art collector or dealer and stumbled into the art world simply as a consequence of buying a few Banksy prints in 2005, having been a fan of his street work for years," he said.
"Back then you could buy a signed Banksy print for around £150, and within a few years the same prints were selling for over £10,000, sometimes upwards of £50,000."
Following the opening at The National in High Street tomorrow, a selection of the various urban artists' print works, both originals and editioned prints, will go on show in the Belfast Print Gallery from November 6-30. Neil added: "Owning work by Banksy enabled me to start collecting artwork by other up and coming artists such as Faile and Antony Micallef, two who, once again, had gone from selling works for a few hundred pounds to selling out shows with works valued at tens of thousands of pounds.
"Thankfully, I only ever bought work that I genuinely loved and I seem to have had a pretty good eye, as the artists who I collected have all gone from strength to strength and continue to lead the way for this new breed of artists.
"Undoubtedly, Banksy is the name that is drawing everyone to the show, but Breed is a fantastic opportunity for art lovers to come down and experience some of the biggest names in the global contemporary art scene."
Banksy is a popular British graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. Growing out of the Bristol underground scene, his satirical and subversive street art combines dark humour with graffiti.
His real name is unknown and his art just appears on public surfaces.