Banksy confirms new mural in north London

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

The artist claimed the mural as his own in an Instagram post on Monday, following a morning of speculation after it appeared on a building on Hornsey Road in Finsbury Park overnight.

Residents told the PA news agency they are “proud and delighted” at the thought of the anonymous artist choosing their street for his latest mural.

“The bright green colours represent Islington, which is lovely, and also, of course, St Patrick’s Day, which is nice and festive.

Wanja Sellers, a Hornsey Road resident who lives a few doors down from the mural, said: “We’re so proud and delighted that Banksy chose our road and chose Finsbury Park for his work.

“Choosing the colours of our borough just makes it feel like a personal message to us residents. We just feel so proud.”

Bright green paint has been sprayed on the building, in front of a cut-back tree, creating the impression of being its foliage.

A stencil of a person holding a pressure hose has also been sketched on to the building.

The vivid paint colour matches that used by Islington Council for street signs in the area.

Neighbours gathered to take photographs and selfies with the mural on Monday morning, and to speculate on its creator.

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.

Members of the public look at the new Banksy artwork
Members of the public look at the new Banksy artwork (Ella Nunn/PA)

“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.”

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told PA he is “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.

“It gives the idea that we could do with much more greenery everywhere and I think that’s a really nice message.”

Chris Beskin, another resident of Hornsey Road, told PA he welcomes the mural, saying it is a “great thing to have in our area”.

“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,” he said.

Banksy artwork unveiled
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he is ‘delighted’ to see the new Banksy artwork in his Islington North constituency (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“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.”

Mr Beskin went to see the mural with his neighbours on Monday morning.

Loraine Holmes is the co-founder of Facebook group Banksy locations, which has almost 20,000 members.

She told the PA news agency she heard about the mural on Sunday night and got the first train down from Leeds on Monday morning to see it for herself.

Although Banksy had not confirmed the piece as his own when she left home, Ms Holmes said she was certain from the information shared in the Facebook group that the mural was the anonymous street artist’s work.

“I’ve been a fan for five, six years now and I’ve travelled across the country and seen his works in Margate, Nottingham, Port Talbot, I even travelled to Paris to see one of his pieces.

“We get a lot of information in this Facebook group, so I basically knew last night that this was definitely a Banksy piece. I’m just so glad to be down here and it’s really exciting to see the crowds here for his work.”

Banksy artwork unveiled
The bright green paint used for the mural matches that used by Islington Council for street signs in the area (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Banksy usually confirms his artwork via his Instagram and website.

Before this piece, his last confirmed work was in December, when he painted military drones on to a stop sign in Peckham, south-east London.

That work was removed less than an hour after it was confirmed on the artist’s social media to be genuine, 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.

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 told PA.

Mr Georgiou said there was not currently anyone living in the building, which was on the lettings market with his estate agents, Alex Marks.

Banksy artwork
Banksy usually confirms his artwork via his Instagram and website (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“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.

PA understands that Islington Council’s graffiti removal team is aware of the artwork and will not remove it.

Councillor Roulin Khondoker, executive member for equalities, culture and inclusion, said in a statement to PA: “Culture is a powerful way to tell meaningful stories and we welcome this artwork in Islington, a borough that celebrates creativity.

“This fantastic piece from Banksy has sparked a real buzz across Islington and beyond, and we very much want the artwork to stay for people to enjoy. We want to find more ways that we can tell important stories through art and culture.

“Trees are a vital part of our work to tackle the climate emergency. We’ve planted nearly 900 in the last year alone, and we work hard to care for our trees and help them to thrive.”

It is understood that the cherry tree in front of the artwork is 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.

Mr Georgiou joked that he might be able to increase the price of the property now the elusive street artist had chosen it as the canvas for his latest artwork.

But he later quelled the fears of residents concerned their rent bills could increase, and clarified he would not be looking to profit from the artwork, unless a Banksy “superfan” wanted to buy the whole building.

He told the Mail Online: “I was having a bit of a laugh with the girls who were saying I was going to put the rent up 250% but no, no. I doubt it.

“Unless we have a massive Banksy fan who is prepared to pay over the odds. But a property is worth what a property is worth.

“You know what, if somebody offered me millions and they can have the building and take the flats with it. Feel free.

“”They can come knocking if they want. Give me a number in an envelope and whoever has the biggest number can have it.”

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