Can you identify this street art?

So I see this comms drop-box on my way to work every day, and every day I see what is the most captivating piece of street art I have ever come across.

I wanted to take a shot of it for posterity. It’s not high art, it doesn’t have a cutting Banksy-esque message to shout out, but neither is it a mindless shitty graffito. It isn’t a wall-spanning work of spray-can mastery. What makes it so fascinating – and what makes it stick in my mind so much – is that this is the only example of it I am aware of, it has no name or tag anywhere, and seems almost meaningless. No obvious message, no obvious creator, it just is.

It’s a wonderfully and beautifully simple and evocative little piece, a perfect example of “less is more”. Why the poignantly melancholy expression? What does it mean? Who does it respresent, what is the message? Why did the artist go to the trouble of putting it on a box in the middle of humdrum suburbia?  Why is it on this little box and not the big fuck-off Cable cabinet next to it (out of shot)? It bugs me that the message and meaining are so well hidden.

Think about it – if you were going to go to all the trouble of getting a piece of card, drawing this face onto it, cutting out the holes to make a spray mask and then painting it onto something you would most likely make the message or the meaning a little obvious, do it somewhere prominent, be making it of someone recogniseable, or stick your name or tag on it somewhere. But this is so seemingly inert, so random and unique and so out of the way…it bugs me. Bugs the arse off me. It’s sits in the back of my mind like a mental hangnail.

It means something, and I want to know what. It’s like an earworm of the visual cortex.   If you recognise it (full size image here), or have seen it somewhere else in or around Manchester (or anywhere else) or know anything about it, I would like to know. I’m just interested. I certainly hope that whatever the Royal Mail have in this cabinet, they decide to leave the art where it is and don’t paint over it. It the simplest yet most striking piece of street art I have seen in a long time.



  1. icallshogun
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 1:39 am | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps… they just like babies?

    Curious, though. Poking around, looks like you got a guy (I assume) over there that likes his babyface stencils. Could be his tag. It’s reasonable to figure that your tagger lives in humdrum suburbia. Might walk past that box every day. Taggers don’t seem to have a standard background to profile, other than spending a fair bit of time outside painting things.

    Quite striking, no matter how it’s sliced. Looks almost surprised to me.

  2. warbirdali
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Looks Gary-Numanesque. Get that a lot round here for bands and we had a lot of George W. faces with “Killer” or similar under it before the last election. BUT as you say for those things there is usually a name or a message, and since they are done from a template there are usually several of them around. Wonder if the artist is kleft-handed? The overspray on the left would mean they held it with the right hand and sprayed with the left. Very mysterious…..

  3. Posted April 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    See? See? That’s why this is an eyeworm. It just doesn’t seem to have a reason to be here, which means there must be a reason for it being here.

    It’s like seeing a hatstand in the middle of a quarry.

    • warbirdali
      Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

      yes but if you are working/digging in the quarry you may need somewhere to put your hat…..

      • Posted April 9, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

        exactly, there is a reason for it to be there. Outside of nature, random does not exist.

  4. Posted February 14, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    Sadly, it has since been painted over. Fuck you, BT engineers, you made the world a little less interesting.

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