Infamous street artist Banksy (aka Robert Banks) visited our shores sometime in 2003. Naturally, he came with paint and stencils in tow and managed to leave us with quite a bit of his work scattered around the city of Melbourne.
If one knows where to look, some of these works still remain but one piece in particular has gained quite a bit of notoriety and infamy.
Banksy’s ‘Little Diver’ adorned the side of the Nicholas building for many, many years. Most people didn’t even know what it was – let alone knew of its existence. There in Cocker Alley, practically on the corner of Flinders Lane, the ‘Little Diver’ sat amongst all the urban niceties that lane had to offer (including a flurry of rats that would probably give your kitty a heart attack).
Whilst the city of Melbourne scurried to and from work each and every day, the ‘Little Diver’ remained unobtrusive and for the most part – neglected and ignored.
Back in early 2008, some five years after Banksy painted the piece on the wall, the city council’s Street Art Assesment Panel designated the work as ‘legal’ art and placed a clear perspex panel to protect the work.
The panel was paid for by the Nicholas Building’s owners as word had got out that many of Banksy’s works have sold for close to $500,000.
Safe to say, Banksy’s ‘Little Diver’ was no longer the reclusive guardian of Flinders Lane but a beacon of intrigue and fascination for the popular media and Melbournites alike.
And so there it sat. Protected behind perspex and impervious to any sort of harm. Well, for a few months at least.
In late 2008, the piece was destroyed as someone came along and poured silver paint behind the perspex ruining the piece once and for all and cheekily branding ‘Banksy Woz Here’ over it all.
The ‘Little Diver’ was now dead.
And it remained dead until now.
A couple of week’s ago I was walking down Flinders Lane, just past Cocker Alley when I noticed a couple of people looking back over my shoulder. Are they looking at me? Is my Cradle of Filth t-shirt just a little too offensive?
I had no idea what they were looking at, but I turned around to see what had piqued their curiosity…
And there he was. The ‘Little Diver’ was back.
Albeit, not as we knew him and not an original Banksy stencil – but someone had crated a replica paste-up and returned him to his rightful place carefully re-constructing him to his original size and positioning.
As of writing this, I don’t know if the paste-up is still there so if it has been destroyed again – then for the briefest of moments the infamous Banksy ‘Little Diver’ was back and watching over the rats of Cocker Alley once more.
All photos by John Raptis