Could this be our Banksy? Anonymous artist brings black panther to town

A black panther sculpture appeared in Lancefield town centre overnight last weekend. Photo: Chris Fleming

A black panther sculpture appeared in Lancefield town centre overnight last weekend. Photo: Chris Fleming

The artist responsible for a black panther sculpture that mysteriously appeared in Lancefield town centre overnight last weekend has spoken out.

Requesting anonymity, the Lancefield local spoke to the Guardian of his delight to play out a long-held fantasy.

"The rumours of the black panther have existed ever since I've lived here and I've been fantasising about this for over 20 years, so it was nice to tick it off," he said.

Overnight last Friday, with a forklift and three men, the piece was successfully, secretively installed.

Residents awoke to a three-metre-long, 1.6-metre-high monument celebrating the town's historical black panther.

"It was great, I couldn't stop grinning the whole time, it was really nice to have gotten away with it so far," the artist said.

"There's still a big question mark over how it got there and who put it there which is delightful."

The artist revealed he doesn't even believe the black panther tale. 

"I know a number of people who do and I know a number of people who claim to have seen it but I don't (believe it). I'd like to, but I'm too much of a sceptic," he said. 

The artist's humour and secrecy have been likened to world-famous and controversial street artist Banksy. 

The piece was made from steel and high-strength concrete, adhering to council regulations, the artist said. 

He hopes council will give it retrospective approval and leave it where it stands for people to enjoy. 

So far, petitions in local businesses have gathered 208 signatures of support and two in opposition. 

Macedon Ranges east ward councillor Henry McLaughlin tabled the petition at the council meeting on Wednesday night.

He told the Guardian he had a personal admiration for the piece. 

"It's a tremendous sculpture. I think it's fantastic in what it is, I also think it's fantastic in what it represents - the mythology of black panthers in the Macedon Ranges," he said.

"Equally there's now the mystery surrounding the artwork itself - who made it, where did it come from, who thought of the idea?"

Cr McLaughlin said the work and its support revealed a level of admirable rebellion in Lancefield. 

"It represents that Lancefield has an identity, that Lancefield has a community spirit, but also, it represents a degree of public anarchy and a push back against the system," he said.

He compared it to the council-commissioned shed art piece installed in Romsey this year. 

"We have a public artwork in Romsey that was a top-down, council-led initiative that effectively has little to no support in the community, and now we have this artwork that's appeared overnight with no council involvement at all which has overwhelming community support," he said.

"The artist is obviously in touch with the feel of Lancefield, there's definitely, undoubtedly some learning in this for the council."

Cr McLaughlin said council would need to assess the safety of the structure and decide whether it would stay or go.