A MYSTERY street artist along the A30 is lying low; their adaptations of street signs perhaps curtailed by coronavirus.

Seven road signs on or just off the main road between Shaftesbury and Sherborne have been altered by the artist known as the A30 Banksy.

He first appeared in August last year just outside the village of East Stour, five miles from Shaftesbury, when a cowboy and lasso were added to a cattle sign.

And the following month, two father and child signs were creatively adapted on the outskirts of the village of Fifehead Magdalen.

One featured the adult wearing a top hat and carrying a rabbit in a hat; in the second, both figures wore top hats and the adult had a velociraptor on a lead.

Fifehead parish clerk Davide Redwood said: “I asked around the village as there a few I thought might be capable of doing this but an involvement has been flatly denied.

“I suppose it’s vandalism but I find it humourous; it adds fun to our mundane lives!”

The self-adhesive silhouettes are expertly designed and added. But in December 2019, his tone darkened.

On the A30 near Sherborne, a father and child sign was again adapted – but featured the father carrying a machete and the child a severed head.

Into 2020 and in February, the lighter tone re-appeared. Another cowboy and lasso on the A30 at Nyland, and two new signs on the A30 at Henstridge – one a ballerina on a hump-backed bridge sign, and a man propping up a ‘road narrows’ sign.

Intriguingly, these two were stencilled ‘Wanksy’ – perhaps a signature of self-deprecation, or a second street artist?

Since lockdown, the altered images have stopped appearing. Or perhaps have yet to be spotted. Or has Banksy moved on?

The artist remains unknown but interest has focussed on the village of West Stour, also on the A30.

On a local forum, a sign in the village was said to have been removed by the parish council and villager Peter Walker retorted. “Far from being vandalism, it brings the notice to the road user’s attention.”

Another villager, Pam Powell added: “They make people happy – and we have a good idea who it is.”

Asked to elaborate, she would only say: “The hunt is what it’s about. Entrance to a village hall is the clue.”

In another comment, Pam said cryptically: “We don’t want staged fights…”

But since lockdown, there has been no more opportunity in The Ship pub in West Stour for gossip about the artists’s identity. Nor is there a shop to gather and chat. The mystery remains.

  • This story is part of the Journal's new publication, the Vale Journal, which covers Shaftesbury, Gillingham, and the wider Blackmore Vale. Got a story for us? Email editor@valejournal.co.uk or find us on Facebook.