If you thought Banksy was Britain’s first graffiti artist, you’re not alone. It turns out UK-based artist Walter Kershaw (aka, somewhat ironically, the “original Banksy”) is the proud holder of that title. In the early 1970s he bravely began experimenting with new techniques and methods, turning facades into massive works of art using the then-revolutionary medium of spray paint. Dubbed “house tattooing,” many British citizens viewed Kershaw's work as guerilla art, prized mostly for its shock value. But Kershaw’s murals are cleverer and more deliberate than many gave him credit for.
Kreshaw originally only pained on slum clearance property for an increased ephemeral effect, and he often he would lace his work with jokes. After a few years, he was being commissioned to paint people’s houses and became a regular on radio and TV shows.
“First Graffiti Artist,” a short documentary directed by artist Ian Potts while he was still a student, offers a glimpse into the life of an avant-garde artist while he challenges the line between art and vandalism. His passion and determination persisted despite the fact that many people (except the police, who frequently ordered him to cease and desist) were not paying attention to his work, and this perseverance paved the way for a new generation of street artists.