Banksy: Artist confirms new London tree mural is his own work

Banksy has confirmed that he is behind a new artwork that appeared in north London on Sunday.

The street artist uploaded before and after pictures of the Finsbury Park mural to social media on Monday.

It shows green paint sprayed on a wall behind a cut-back tree to look like foliage, with a stencil of a person holding a sprayer next to it.

Crowds have gathered to see the mural, with one local saying they were "proud" their street had been chosen.

"It feels like a personal message to us residents, we just feel so proud," said Wanja Sellers, who lives along the street from the mural.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the PA news agency he was "delighted" to see the artwork in his Islington North constituency.

"Banksy's come to Finsbury Park with a bit of greenery in a place that needs a bit more greenery. We're the most densely populated constituency in the country and I'm just delighted," the MP said.

The mural shows a "great arterial spray of green paint" across a white wall, accompanied by a "classic Banksy-style stencil", according to James Peak, who created the BBC Radio 4 series The Banksy Story.

Composite image of the building in Finsbury Park with and without Banksy's mural
Composite image of the building in Finsbury Park with and without Banksy's mural

He says it probably would have been created using a pressure hose or fire extinguisher.

The colour of the green paint used matches that used by Islington Council for signs in the local area, which Mr Peak said demonstrated Banksy's eye for detail.

"When you step back it looks like the tree is bursting to life, but in a noticeably fake and synthetic way.

"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.

Before the artist confirmed it was his piece of work, Islington councillor Flora Williamson said it would be "incredible" to have a Banksy artwork "right in the middle of social housing and one of the poorest parts of the borough".

"I think it adds intrigue and culture and brings the area to life," she said.

Islington Council said its graffiti removal team is aware of the artwork and won't remove it.

The council believes the cherry tree in the foreground of the artwork is around 40-50 years old and is in declining health, with decay and fungi damage.

It says it has been maintaining and pruning the tree for some time - both for safety, and to help prolong its lifespan - and will continue working to keep the tree alive.

The elusive artist usually confirms his work on his website and social media, and on Monday he posted images of the artwork on Instagram with no caption.

In his post, the starkly bare tree can also be seen with a plain white wall behind it - prior to creation of the mural.

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 the morning after.

He said the building was currently vacant and on the rental market.

"The question is, what do I do with it now? What am I meant to do with it now? I definitely plan on keeping it on there and letting people enjoy it, everyone's loving it which is great, I just can't really believe it, still, to be honest," he said.

Banksy is one of the world's most famous artists, but his identity remains, officially at least, unknown.

His most famous works include Kissing Coppers (2004) and Girl with Balloon (2006), which was shredded in a stunt following its sale at auction in 2018.

The artist's most recent known piece, a stop sign with three military drones on it, was stolen just hours after it had been confirmed as authentic in December last year.

In February, two men were re-bailed for theft, with officers still trying to track down the artwork, which was taken from a south London street.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Peak said that by incorporating a tree into the artwork, Banksy has "solved an emerging problem" of people trying to steal his work.

"I don't think anyone is going to be able to nick this... how are you going to steal a tree?"