Banksy’s urban tree artwork distorted with white paint

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  • by Thomas Mackintosh
  • BBC News

image Source, Matt McKenna

image Caption,

Artwork appeared in Finsbury Park at the weekend – but it has been defaced with white paint

Mural painted by street artist Banksy on a residential building in North London has been defaced.

The artwork appeared in Finsbury Park over the weekend, featuring multiple layers of green paint applied to form leaves on the wall behind a nearby tree, with a stencil of a person next to it.

But on Wednesday morning, local resident Matt McKenna, 35, noticed white paint splattered on the wall.

Islington Council has been contacted for comment.

Tall metal fencing has also been installed around the tree and the wall.

‘real shame’

A large number of people came to see the artwork, but Mr McKenna told BBC London that he was walking his dog when he noticed the graffiti had been defaced.

“It’s really a shame. It happened overnight,” he said. “When it came out on Sunday my partner saw it and said he liked it quite a bit, even before everyone was talking about it.

image Caption,

The tree was cut down before and after it was cut down, and was apparently painted white before the Banksy graffiti

“Then rumors spread that it was likely Banksy, then they posted on Instagram that it was Banksy.

“It’s something a lot of people are talking about and it’s a piece of London that is sometimes forgotten.”

Like many of Banksy’s works, the latest piece has sparked debate and a range of opinions, including some conservation campaigners who say the tree was cut back, or polluted too much.

Earlier, before the white paint became visible, Islington Council had said that its graffiti removal team was aware of the artwork and would not be removing it.

The local authority reported that the cherry tree chosen by Banksy was 40–50 years old and in declining health with decay and fungal damage.

The council said it would continue to try to keep the tree alive and should buds re-grow on its crown.

image Caption,

Crowds of people came to see Banksy’s artwork in Finsbury Park after it first appeared over the weekend

The owner of the firm responsible for restoring the tree to its present form on behalf of the council said his team had used an “ancient form of pruning”, known as pollarding, where the upper part of the tree was cut off. Parts were removed.

He said it was “a really good way to extend the lifespan of the tree” and he expected it to “grow faster in the spring”.

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