THE "guerrilla artist" Banksy is believed to be behind a piece of street art depicting a stenciled picture of a rat bouncing a ball below a 'no ball games’ sign in Stroud.

Eagle-eyed SNJ photographer Tom Wren spotted the artwork next to the doorway of contemporary lifestyle shop Fourteen, in Kendrick Street, this evening.

Tom said: “It certainly looks like one and it was a bit of a surprise to be honest.”

Stroud is a community, which is awash with high-brow artists such as the world renowned Damien Hirst, internationally acclaimed contemporary British artists Dan Chadwick, Tim Noble and Sue Webster.

Earlier, this week another Banksy popped up in Cheltenham with three shadowy figures eavesdropping - three miles from the Government listening post GCHQ.

The artwork depicts three men wearing sunglasses and using listening devices to "snoop" on a telephone box.

On Thursday white paint was daubed on the picture by vandals, but was spotted before it dried.

Residents successfully washed the paint off the Cheltenham street art.

About Banksy

Banksy is a pseudonymous United Kingdom-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.

His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stencilling technique.

Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.

Banksy's work was made up of the Bristol underground scene which involved collaborations between artists and musicians.

According to author and graphic designer Tristan Manco and the book Home Sweet Home, Banksy "was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England.

The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher, but became involved in graffiti during the great Bristol aerosol boom of the late 1980s.

Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris.

Banksy says, however, that he was inspired by "3D", a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of Massive Attack.

Known for his contempt for the government in labelling graffiti as vandalism, Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls, even going as far as to build physical prop pieces.

Banksy does not sell photographs or reproductions of his street graffiti, however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the winning bidder.

Banksy's first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop, billed as "the world's first street art disaster movie", made its debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

The film was released in the UK on 5 March 2010. In January 2011, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary for the film.