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Who is 'Matey' - the artist behind Banksy-style graffiti in South Harrow?
STENCILLED graffiti has started appearing around the borough, mimicking the style of Britain's most famous 'guerilla artist', Banksy.
The works - almost all in black and white - are signed 'Matey' and are similar to the kind of irrelevant or tongue-in-cheek murals produced by the anonymous and popular street artist.
Quite how many images 'Matey' is responsible for is unknown but it does seem plausible there may be more than the three the Observer has seen.
The presence of the street art reignites the 'Is it really art?' debate about graffiti about which one local councillor commented some months ago: "This isn't about any kind of street culture, it is vandalism pure and simple."
One of 'Matey''s pictures is of a policeman who is seemingly unaware a pigeon is perched on top of his hat apparently smoking a cannabis joint.
This spray-painted sketch lies in a whitewashed alleyway between shops that connects Station Road, Harrow, with Greenhill Way Car Park.
There is another, smaller, design on the bottom right hand corner of a green telephone exchange cabinet at Shaftesbury Circle in West Harrow: a black and white tortoise and artist's signature on a patch of white paint.
The third spotted by the Observer is on the side of AVS Ltd, a MOT garage in Roxeth Green Avenue, South Harrow, which is of a cat holding a paint brush from which a trail of red paint appears to run off the wall and along the pavement.
Paul Williams, manager of AVS, said he and his colleagues have no idea who the mysterious artist is.
"It appeared on Friday night," he said. "He's name's 'Matey' and I reckon he's painted a cat to be a copycat of Banksy.
"It IS art but it's still graffiti since you're painting on somebody else's wall. It looks good but we will have to paint over it at some point."
Paras G, who has been involved in documenting London graffiti for some years now, said: "While I can't be completely sure of whether any of these stencils is a Banksy, I have a feeling that they have been done by someone trying to emulate him.
"For one, the quality of stencilling on these three is fairly average, indicating a lack of experience.
"The subjects too, seem to have been chosen without much thought to the message they convey and lack the characteristic humour of an original Banksy, except maybe that of the cat.
"Even there, I would have expected to see a speech bubble inscribed with a funny observation and not the 'Matey' tag."
However, the Metropolitan Police views graffiti dimly since it constitutes a crime if the artist does not have permission of the owner of the wall: in July officers from Harrow arrested four 17-year-olds in morning raids across Pinner, Burnt Oak and Northwood Hills.
At the time Councillor Susan Hall (Conservative), portfolio holder for environmental services, said: "Graffiti has a corrosive effect on the quality of life for ordinary people.
"This isn't about any kind of street culture, it is vandalism pure and simple."
n Do you know where any more 'Matey' originals are and do you have photographs? Are you 'Matey'? Contact Ian Proctor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07795 811230
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