The identity of the Black Country’s very own Banksy, has been shrouded in mystery for over 50 years.
For half a century the mysterious ‘ghostwriter’, known as AJW, has been baffling locals by leaving sketches of 1940s Hollywood star Mario Lanza throughout the region. Over the years thousands of legendary doodlings of the American Tenor have been drawn on to beer mats, postcards and scraps of paper, and left across the Black Country in pubs, shops, libraries and public buildings.
This February, we will be exhibiting some of his (or her) artworks and screening a short film, in a special exhibition curated by AJW enthusiast and professional documentary film maker Barney Snow.
By simply signing the unexplained sketches with the initials, AJW, little is know about their origin or the artist. The earliest drawing is believed to date back to the time of the Lanza's premature death in 1959. Since then over 250,000 images have been produced – predominantly being found in the Black Country but also as far a field as France.
Over recent years, such is the excitement that surrounds the mysterious appearances, a Facebook page has been set up for those intrigued about the Black Country legend. Attracting close to 300 members, the page contains photographs of some of the sketches uploaded by sharp-eyed members of the public, together with discussions about mysterious sightings.
The exhibition will also feature contributions by people who know who he is but keep his secret, including work by Blobologist Fred Barnfield.
> Do you own any mysterious sketches? As part of the exhibition we're going to be creating a digital archive of AJW's work. If you would like us to feature your work in the collection please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gallery opening times:
Wednesday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm
Sunday, 11am - 3pm
*Bank Holiday Monday, 10am - 5pm