It takes a lot to impress the pigeons who patrol the centre of Glasgow. War, peace, a general strike, indy rallies, the Christmas lights - those beady eyes have seen it all.

Now it may have been the hangover from another balmy and sleepless night, but something seemed different about the doos picking their way along the pavement outside the Gallery of Modern Art yesterday morning. Were they strutting their stuff with a little more attitude than usual?

Anyone would think the city had struck oil during the night, and in arts terms it has. Any way you slice it, being chosen as the launch pad for Banksy’s first solo exhibition in 14 years is A Big Deal. Councils the world over can only dream of waking up one day to find a Banksy on a wall. Glasgow has been handed stacks of his works, albeit for three months only, painstakingly curated by the man himself.

Yes, apparently the Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art, or “the boss” as he was referred to by his team, was in the other day, making last-minute adjustments. No-one outside of an extremely small circle knew he was in town. Even if a whisper had got out, how would anyone recognise him?

READ MORE: Banksy unveils show stopper exhibition in Glasgow

Strictly preserved anonymity is a central part of the Banksy brand. I heard one of the GoMA team asking a Banksy staffer what “he” looked like. Lips stayed zipped. Anything else would be like telling on Tony Soprano. You might wind up in an alley with a Banksy rat stuffed into your mouth.

“Cut & Run, 25 years of card labour”, offers its own clues to the Banksy psyche. The first piece as you walk into the transformed inner of GoMA is one of the artist’s desks, complete with scalpels, spray paints, daubs of every colour, and a mug with the legend: “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce.” Surrounding the desk are the stencils, never before exhibited, used to produce some of his landmark works. Stencils are the alpha and omega of Banksy’s art, and the reason why he has managed to stay one step ahead of the law for so long. With the hard yards put in beforehand, he can get in, get the job done quickly, and get the hell out of there.

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Key pieces and moments from the last 25 years are described by Banksy in accompanying panels. The guy gives good quote, particularly when it comes to describing his near brushes with the law. “Most artists have an obsession that defines their work,” says one panel. “Monet had light, Hockney has colour. I’ve got police response time.”

The space is tight until you reach the main gallery which houses The Meat Truck (stuffed with soft toys representing animals going off to slaughter) and pieces from Dismaland, the Banksy theme park he set up in Weston-Super-Mare in 2015. It is not yet 7am but already it is warm in there. Visitors will enter at 15 minute intervals to keep the crowd moving along and give everyone a chance to check out the exhibits.

READ MORE What it was like to be first through the door

An upside of the cosy layout is that it lends the exhibition a more intimate and personal feel. The older Banksy gets - the smart money says he is in his 50s now - the more narked he becomes at the “unauthorised” shows staged in his name. This show is different, he wants us to believe; this is the real Banksy deal. Or as he puts it, “While the unauthorised shows might look like sweepings from my studio floor, Cut & Run really is the actual sweepings from my studio floor.”

He does himself a disservice there. One of the exhibits is a model explaining how he managed to execute the infamous shredding of Girl with a Balloon at Sotheby’s in 2018. Who is going to know more about the nuts and bolts of that machine than the artist who willed it into existence?

On a more personal level still is his toilet (one of my least favourite pieces I have to admit) and a giant strip cartoon explaining how the boy Banksy came to be the artist he is today. “Why can’t you draw something nice? Like flowers?” says the mum character. “Definitely her exact words,” he adds.

On the way out is a reproduction of Banksy’s boyhood bedroom complete with posters of The Specials and a collection of catapults. The young David preparing to take on Goliath, even then.

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Given its own special case is the stabproof vest Banksy made for the rapper Stormzy to wear at Glastonbury. Nearby are stencils for key works, including Kissing Coppers, and piles of placards made for marches. This is the joy of Banksy, the popular mixing with the political, the famous with the obscure.

Exit is through a gift shop, of course, where you can buy your Banksy merch (two posters for £15, book and tote bag £25). Finally, visitors are invited to write their names on the wall to show they woz ere, in Glasgow, in the summer of 2023.

This is an exhibition that works on many levels. It is as much a show of art as a canter through recent political history and a glimpse into the mind of an artistic provocateur. More than any other artist of his generation, Banksy has proved himself the quintessential showman. What a show he has put on for Glasgow, for Scotland, for the world.

Bringing this terrific exhibition here is a salute to Glasgow, and the city, with a tip of the traffic cone on Wellington’s head, returns the greeting in kind.

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