Meet the man who created the Diana mural

Meet the man who created the Diana mural

After much speculation about the latest street art to appear in the town centre, Croydon’s ‘Banksy’ has been revealed as its own local stencil artist Rich Simmons.

The painting of Diana as the Princess in the tower was completed over the weekend with stencils of paparazzi at the door of the tower, looking up and taking photos.

Speculation was rife online with debate about the authenticity of the work and whether it could be by the notorious Banksy with one comment saying “I know that every half-competent graffito gets claimed as his work but the location, careful positioning, timing and high-quality of this one make me think it could be by Banksy.”

Simmons’ name might be familiar to some as the artist behind the Superman kissing Batman artwork and most recently, the gay kiss mural in Surrey Street.

Rich Simmons

This isn’t the first time he has been compared to or mistaken for Banksy but the artist is focusing on his own work and laughs off the comparisons

“Banksy is one of my heroes and the artist who inspired me to get into stencils but I’m trying to focus on being my own artist and doing my own thing,” he said.

“I walk past the water tower every day and I have had the idea of doing a Princess in the top window for a year now. That idea evolved into Princess Diana, locked away in the tower waiting for a new Prince but the only people chasing her still are the paparazzi. Even as a ghost trapped in the fairytale castle, she is the one being haunted by the press.”

The artist has a studio in Croydon’s arts quarter of St Georges Walk and is neighbours and close friends with RISEgallery who have been helping to grow the art scene in the area over the last few years.

RISEgallery’s owner Kevin Zuchowski Morrison said: “Rich’s work continues to excite me and this is new piece in the tower is one of his best yet. To use the tower in the narrative of the piece is very clever and I can see why people thought it was a Banksy.”

With solo exhibitions this year in London and New York and other street art planned, perhaps more comparsons between Simmons and Banksy continue to come.