Watch as artist behind Wakefield's Banksy-style artwork adds the final touches to his masterpiece - and explains the thought behind the work

The artist behind Horbury’s Banksy-style artwork has admitted he was “totally blown away” by the public response to his work.

By Holly Gittins
Friday, 9th October 2020, 5:45 pm
Updated Friday, 9th October 2020, 5:46 pm

His graffitied painting, which depicts a young girl wearing a facemask and reaching for her balloon as she is chained down by the coronavirus, caused a stir this week, when it was spotted on a shelter in the town's Carr Lodge Park.

Drawing comparisons to Banksy’s Girl with Balloon, photos of the artwork were shared far and wide, leaving many to speculate if the street artist himself had paid a visit to the town.

But the artist has now revealed himself to be a local dad-of-two, who lives with his family just a stone’s throw from the shelter in question.

The artist behind Horbury’s Banksy-style artwork has admitted he was “totally blown away” by the public response to his work.

Liam Staniford admitted the idea for the painting first came around when walking his dog.

The shelter had recently been painted black as part of an ongoing project to provide spaces for art in the town.

It was while passing another artist, Helen Thomas, as she was decorating one side of the structure that Liam decided to produce a painting of his own.

Liam, 58, said: “I walk my dog in the park nearly every day and I actually saw the lady painting but I couldn’t figure out how she got the opportunity to do it. That was what planted the seed in my head.

Liam Staniford lives in Horbury and admitted the idea for the painting first came around when walking his dog.

“A few weeks later, I walked past and thought ‘I’m going to tag that’. I went home, had some dinner and thought about adapting a Banksy. I really like Banksy a lot, for obvious reasons."

So back at home he drew his design onto card and used a scalpel to make a stencil.

And when he returned to the park to create his masterpiece on Sunday evening, Liam was greeted by some surprise helpers.

He said: “I came across to the park and there was a group of kids sitting around the other side of the shelter.

“I said ‘I’m going to tag this wall if you don’t mind’. They were great about it.

“They were really interested and really keen. They were asking questions.

“The light was getting bad so they were standing with their torches on their phones while I was finishing it off. They really engaged with what I was doing and they loved it.

“I went home and never thought any more about it, just got it off my chest because I’ve had no work for six months.

“A lot of my work is in the leisure industry, pubs, bars and clubs. I needed a creative outlet and I thought it would be good to highlight the situation we’re all going through.”

It was several days after this that Liam was first made aware of the attention his artwork had earned.

Photos of the piece had been shared widely on social media, with hundreds of comments speculating on its source - with some even suggesting that famous street artist Banksy could be behind the design.

Liam said: “My wife showed me the Facebook page, which blew me away.

“There’s been some really emotional reaction to this and it’s totally blown me away. It’s totally subjective, I really took a lot from the reaction to it.

“I suppose if the initial intention was to try and force a reaction I’d feel differently but I just wanted to express something in the way I knew how.

“People’s reactions have been really interesting, but it’s completely subjective. I’ve not done it to make a personal statement.”

But he did admit that it was not the first time his work had drawn comparisons to the famous street artist.

Liam’s love for stencil art began more than 30 years ago, when he began producing T-shirts for bands to sell at their gigs.

He now heads up a business, Third Eye Design, which sees him produce wall art and designs for companies across the country.

He said: “When I do the commercial stuff it’s often in building sites. There’s always a lot of contractors on site.

“When I rock up to do my bit they watch and one of them, guaranteed, wherever I am in the country, will always go ‘bloody hell, it’s Banksy’.

“I always turn around and say ‘I wish, but I have played football against him’.”

Liam said he had produced the painting as a creative outlet for himself and also to draw attention to the situation of many artists and musicians facing months of unemployment following the pandemic.

He said: "I was pleasantly shocked at the response.

“I never expected it, that’s not why I did it. It’s the ideas that are so powerful.

“The reason I chose the girl was it’s difficult enough for adults to deal with this situation. But children pick up on our anxiety.

“I think about the situation, children pick it up and don’t understand it. We need to look after the kids more than anything.

“It wasn’t self-promotion, I didn’t do it for any attention. I’ve for a lot of good friends who are talented working musicians and artists that are struggling really badly.

“If I were to do any more I would use it to focus on awareness for the Musicians’ Hardship Fund or Mind. I like to use this kind of approach to raise awareness of things.”