Caveman and trolley fake rocks British museum
May 20, 2005

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Staff at the British Museum have been left with red faces after discovering a hoax exhibit on display - a cave painting of a primitive man pushing a supermarket trolley.

The "rock painting", entitled Early Man Goes to Market, depicts the outline of a spear-wielding caveman pushing a trolley, next to the outline of a pig.

The work was planted by anonymous "art terrorist" Banksy, whose creation failed to raise eyebrows at one of London's most famous museums.

This is not the first time Banksy has stuck fake objects to gallery walls and waited to see how long it takes before curators notice.

Museum staff were alerted yesterday after Banksy put a message on his website, saying that the 25cm-by-15cm rock, "had remained in the collection for quite some time".

Museum staff discovered the rock, stuck to a wall with double-sided tape in a gallery of artefacts from Roman Britain.

It was placed beneath a limestone statue, a 1st Century tombstone found in Tower Hill and a case full of statuettes from Roman Britain in Gallery 49.

AdvertisementBanksy had placed it alongside a caption, stating: "This finely preserved example of primitive art dates from the Post-Catatonic era and is thought to depict early man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds."

He added: "The artist responsible is known to have created a substantial body of work across South East of England under the moniker Banksymus Maximus but little else is known about him.

"Most art of this type has unfortunately not survived. The majority is destroyed by zealous municipal officials who fail to recognise the artistic merit and historical value of daubing on walls."

Banksy's previous stunts include a 3.5-tonne bronze spoof of the Old Bailey's statue of Justice in thigh-high PVC boots and a suspender belt.

The mystery artist has also placed a painting of a can of Tesco value tomato soup and a woman wearing a gas mask in galleries in New York.

A British Museum spokeswoman said: "We're reasonably confident that it hadn't been up for that long, maybe a couple of days.

"But we're seeing the lighter side of it.

"It looked very much in keeping with the other exhibits, the explanatory text was quite similar."

- PA