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Banksy confirms north London tree mural is his work

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A mural that appeared overnight on a residential building in north London is the work of Banksy, the anonymous street artist has confirmed.

The artist claimed the work as his own in an Instagram post on Monday, following a morning of speculation after it was spotted on Hornsey Road in Finsbury Park.

The mural is painted on a wall that sits behind a tree as the viewer looks south-east down Hornsey Road.

It features a lifesize depiction of a woman holding a pressure washer, having apparently sprayed green paint up the side of a block of flats. Viewed with the tree in the foreground and centred on the wall, the green paint mimics the foliage of the plant, which has been cut back in a process known as pollarding.

Crowds of people turned out to see the artwork on Monday morning. Wanja Sellers, a Hornsey Road resident who lives a few doors down from the mural, told the PA Media news agency: “We’re so proud and delighted that Banksy chose our road and chose Finsbury Park for his work.”

Lidia Guerra, another Hornsey Road resident, said: “The way it’s been done, with the paint spraying down, reminds me of a weeping willow, so there’s perhaps a message about the struggle of nature with the dead tree in front. It’s just great – when we read about it last night, we knew we had to come and see it as soon as possible. We feel so proud to think he chose our street.”

Chris Beskin welcomed the mural, saying it is a “great thing to have in our area”. He added: “I’m absolutely delighted to see this on our street – I think it’s great and sends a strong message, I’d like to see more of it, to be honest, the more the merrier. I think it’s probably one of his biggest pieces in a while – and the fact he’s done it on the wall means it can’t just be stolen or easily removed.”

And fellow resident Carolyn said: “It’s just lovely to see how this piece of art has brought everyone together. People have come out to chat in the streets and came out early this morning to speculate together. It’s brought the community together, which has been really nice to see.”

The cherry tree is believed to be around 40 to 50-years-old and in declining health. The council’s tree service had been maintaining it for some time to help prolong its lifespan and would continue to try to keep the decaying tree alive.

James Peak, who created the BBC Radio 4 series The Banksy Story, went to see the work on Sunday after receiving a tip-off. “The message is clear: Nature’s struggling and it is up to us to help it grow back,” he told the BBC.

He described the scene as a “very busy, urban, built-up environment”, with the tree sitting in the gardens of some social housing. The figure of the woman, he said, was a “classic Banksy-style stencil”. And he noted that the shade of green used to represent the foliage was “exactly the same sort of virulent shade of green that Islington use for its social housing signs”.

“So, when you step back, it looks like the tree has burst into life, but in a noticeably fake and synthetic way. And it’s pretty subtle for a massive tree, I’d say.” The broadcaster added: “It’s spring now, and this tree should be bursting forth with leaves, but Banksy must have cycled past and thought how miserable it looks,” he said.

Alex Georgiou, whose company owns the building with the mural on, said he found out about it late on Sunday night, and came down to see it for the first time on Monday morning.

“It’s quite mad to be honest, to come down here and just to see all the crowds of people looking at the building,” he said. Georgiou said there was not currently anyone living in the building, which was on the lettings market.

It is understood that Islington council’s graffiti removal team is aware of the artwork and will not remove it.

Before this piece, the artist’s last confirmed work was in December, when he painted military drones on to a stop sign in Peckham, south London. That work was removed less than an hour after it was confirmed to be genuine on the artist’s social media, with witnesses reporting it was taken down by a man with bolt-cutters. Two men were later arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage.

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