Locals suspect tree mural could be latest Banksy artwork

  • Did you see the mural being painted? email: cameron.roy@mailonline.co.uk

A suspected Banksy artwork has appeared overnight on the side of a building near Finsbury Park in London.

The artwork shows a splattering of green which has been painted behind a bare tree to look like foliage, with a stencil of a person holding what appears to be a pressure hose next to it.

The artwork has already been gathering Banksy fans to the location on Hornsey Road in north London as they inspect it to see if it could be the real thing.

James Peak, who created the BBC Radio 4 series The Banksy Story, rushed to the scene after receiving a tip-off.

He told the BBC: ‘To my mind it looks like a dead cert.

A suspected Banksy artwork has appeared overnight on the side of a building near Finsbury Park in London

The artwork shows a splattering of green which has been painted behind a bare tree to look like foliage, with a stencil of a person holding what appears to be a pressure hose next to it

The bare wall pictured one year ago on March 2023 showing no greenery

‘But as ever with Banksy – you never quite know, until he fesses up by posting it on his website.’

Banksy fans have been keeping a careful watch on the secretive artist’s social media channels to see if the Finsbury Park painting, which appeared on Sunday, gets confirmed. 

Mr Peak said the artwork had the hallmarks of a Banksy due to its clear message that nature is struggling and it is up to us to get it back.

He said another clue was the fact it was done with minimum effort but still looked really cool.

Banksy’s eye for detail could also be on display as the colour of the paint matches the one used for street signs by Islington Council.

The lack of leaves, despite it being Spring, could also have inspired Banksy to make the painting.

Pictures from the scene one year ago, in March 2023, showed the tree looking similarly bare with no greenery.

But in July 2022 the tree was pictured with a lot more green foliage.

The possible Banksy has delighted many residents of Islington who took to social media to celebrate the artwork. 

The artwork has already been gathering Banksy fans to the location on Hornsey Road in north London as they inspect it to see if it could be the real thing

The bare wall pictured in July 2022 showing the tree with a lot more green foliage

Banksy's eye for detail could also be on display as the colour of the paint matches the one used for street signs by Islington Council

One social media user was left puzzled after the artist seemed to have left zip ties at the scene

Local Islington Labour councillor Flora Williamson wrote on Twitter/X: ‘By far the most exciting thing to happen on todays canvass session on hornsey road was seeing that Banksy had come to Tollington over night. 

‘Lots of local interest – I’m a fan of it.’

A resident of the area Amy wrote on Twitter: ‘Proud new caretakers of an apparent new #Banksy piece in Finsbury Park… Woke up this morning to it on the side of flat. You can just about see us smiling proudly on our balcony.’

Paul Drinot wrote on social media: ‘If this is a Banksy, it’s the best thing that’s happened to the Hornsey Road in years.’

One social media user was left puzzled after the artist seemed to have left zip ties at the scene – posting a picture of several black ones in a bunch. 

The Banksy mania could even see the building’s value rise if the piece gets confirmed. 

One local joked on social media: ‘Banksy came overnight and now my rent will skyrocket.’ 

The possible reveal of the Islington mural comes after the last time Banksy’s art was revealed in London, it ended in scandal.

Two men were arrested and were bailed for allegedly using bolt cutters to steal the artwork which pictured a stop sign featuring three military drones.

Once Banksy announced on social media the artwork belonged to him in an Instagram post shortly after midday on December 23, two men allegedly appeared at the scene and cut down the artwork before running off.

The 'Banksy bandit' suspects allegedly stole the stop sign piece of art from a Peckham street in broad daylight in December

The piece of art was chopped off with bolt cutters just an hour after it was officially unveiled by the underground artist on December 23

Two men were bailed pending further inquiries last month but the police have yet to recover the artwork

A pair of bolt cutters were left behind at the scene following the brazen action

Police have yet to recover the peice of art, but one gallery owner told the BBC at the time it could be worth up to £500,000.

The artwork was widely interpreted by followers of the artist as calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. 

The Instagram revelation led to a stream of locals descending on the site and taking photos of the installation on their phones.

But at around 12.30pm, the peaceful scene was shattered by the arrival of two men, one of whom balanced precariously on an Lime e-bike while hurriedly hacking the sign down with bolt cutters. 

Banksy did not comment on the drama of the theft, but had been warned by a social media user: ‘The sign will be snatched pronto.’ 

Pieces by the rogue artist have previously been sold for millions of pounds. 

The drones on the piece resembled those on another artwork, Civilian Drone Strike, which depicted them destroying a house while a little girl and her dog watch on in horror. 

It was sold for £200,000 to raise funds in opposition to a London arms fair. 

The stop sign drones resemble those on another artwork, Civilian Drone Strike, which depicted them destroying a house while a little girl and her dog watch on in horror - it was sold for £200,000

'Love is in the Bin', a Banksy artwork that half-shredded itself during a 2018 auction, sold for £18.6 million - four times its estimate - in 2021

The video showing Love is in the Bin getting shredded after auction went viral

Prints of three of Banksy's works are seen above at Sotheby's in February 2022. Centre is  Kissing Coppers, next to Girl with Balloon and 'Vandalised Oils (Choppers)'

Banksy’s real identity has never been fully confirmed – and speculation continues to surround the mysterious artist.

His career began in the 90s, and he is known by millions of people thanks to the appearance of dozens of iconic artworks in unexpected locations around the world, with many having gone on to sell for millions.

For years his identity has been a hot topic, with names such as Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja and Gorillaz founder Jamie Hewlett being floated around.

Also suggested is public schoolboy Robin Gunningham, who was ‘unmasked’ as Banksy by the Mail On Sunday in 2008 after an investigation into his past.

Regardless of who he his, Banksy’s works are hot property on the art market.

In 2021, his ‘Love is in the Bin’ work was bought for more than £18million, with its value having been boosted after a shredder hidden in its frame cut it to pieces moments after it was sold for the first time in 2018.

Banksy is suspected of being the pseudonym of Bristol-born, 53-year-old, public school-educated Robin Gunningham. He is thought to be the man pictured above

Pictured: Banksy's Sweep It Under the Carpet mural

Banksy’s career timeline 

  • Early 1990s: His work begins appearing in Bristol
  • Late 1990s: He moves to London and gains public recognition
  • 2000s: Banksy becomes the most famous graffiti artist in the UK and begins hosting exhibitions across the country and abroad
  • 2003: He disguises himself as a pensioner and installs one of his own works in a vacant spot in the Tate Britain, London
  • 2004: He sneaks into the Louvre in Paris and hangs his own version of the Mona Lisa
  • 2010: He directs Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film moves to New York and is now the most famous graffiti artist in the world
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The work, previously known as ‘Girl with Balloon’, was just one of more than a dozen of Banksy’s creations that have sold for more than £2million.

Banksy uses art as a form of activism, regularly making societal and political statements with their works.

Having also sprayed his tag across Bristol, Banksy then evolved with the times and began creating more sophisticated pieces, whilst always keeping his identity hidden. 

One of Banksy’s earliest works is the The Mild Mild West.

The large mural was painted in 1999 in Bristol’s Stokes Croft and shows a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail at three riot police.

It was painted by the artist over three days in broad daylight and is still in the city today, among some of Banksy’s other works.

The exhaustive MoS investigation into Banksy’s identity heard from dozens of friends, former colleagues, enemies, flatmates and even family members.

The search began with an image of a man in Jamaica at work with his stencils and cans of spray paint.

Although Banksy denied the image showed him, the Mail’s investigation was later backed by researchers at Queen Mary University.

A Banksy anti-Brexit mural appeared on the side of a building in Dover, Kent, in May 2017

They used ‘geographic profiling’ – a technique more often used to catch criminals or track outbreaks of disease – to plot the locations of 192 of Banksy’s presumed artworks.

The sites indicated ‘hot spots’ which were narrowed down to pinpoint an individual. Peaks within these clusters were found to correlate to a pub, playing fields and residential addresses closely linked to Mr Gunningham and his friends and family.

Mr Gunningham attended Bristol Cathedral School and was born in July 1973. A school photo of him bore a striking resemblance to the man in the Jamaica photograph.

A former school friend described him as being ‘extremely talented’ at art and admitted he would ‘not be at all surprised’ if he was Banksy.

In anonymous interviews he has done, Banksy has said he first became interested in graffiti at school.

And a fellow artist he was living with in Bristol in 1998, Luke Egan, went on to exhibit with Banksy at Santa’s Ghetto, an art store in London’s West End.

However, Mr Gunningham’s family denied that he was Banksy and the link was never explicitly confirmed.

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