Banksy Tree Mural Covered Up After Vandalism


A mural in London claimed by street artist Banksy has been covered with plastic and surrounded by wooden boards after it was splashed with white paint in an apparent vandalism attempt.

The tree-like work was defaced just two days after the art sprouted up on the four-story residential building, which attracted international attention and discussion.

About the Mural

Located in the Finsbury Park neighborhood, the mural covers a four-story residential building. It features a small figure holding a pressure hose beside a large cherry tree, which had been severely pruned. The green paint sprayed across the wall reportedly replicates the absent leaves.

The mural went up sometime on Sunday, March 17, and Banksy posted the before-and-after images of the wall the following day. According to the building’s owner, the building is currently vacant and for rent, but the mural will remain.

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

Peak added that the art would have probably been created using a pressure hose or fire extinguisher.

Some observers reportedly noted that the paint’s shade of green is similar to a shade used by Islington Council, the district authority in charge, in street signs. Others said it was a reference to St. Patrick’s Day, which was also Sunday.

Rafael Schacter, an associate professor of anthropology and material culture at University College London, said in an email to The Washington Post that the mural was “one of the best Banksy works I’ve in a while,” and felt “genuinely site-specific.”

“The brutally pollarded tree against the plain side wall of the adjacent building it sits against provides a really perfect backdrop,” he said, speculating that the work was a statement on the debate about how to best maintain and care for trees.

He added that the use of color and technique “in which hand-pumped garden pressure sprayers are re-purposed to paint graffiti—something similarly done with fire extinguishers—is a nice touch in term of the relation to… their use in gardening, often for weeding.”

Islington Council told The Washington Post in an email that its “graffiti removal team is aware of the artwork” by Banksy “and won’t remove it.”

“It’s been done for a purpose: to get people talking, to get people interested,” said Jeremy Corbyn, the member of Parliament who represents North Islington.

The council believes the cherry tree in the foreground of the artwork is around 40 to 50 years old and is in declining health, with decay and fungi damage, BBC reported. It said it has been maintaining and pruning the tree for some time and is expected to continue working to keep the tree alive.

What Now

Just two days after its appearance, the mural was defaced with splashes of white paint. Those responsible for the vandalism have reportedly not been identified.

The environmentally-themed mural has now been covered in transparent plastic and surrounded by wooden boards by the building’s owner, as well as a sign saying the area is under video surveillance.

On Wednesday (March 27), workers began to erect wooden boards around the site. The local authority, Islington Council, also said it was fencing off the site to protect the art and residents from the impact of visitors.

The “temporary measures” have been put into place, as well as regular checks from park patrol officers, to manage crowds and help protect the artwork.

Alex Georgiou, of family-run estate agents Alex Marks who own the property, told The Independent: “We’re not so worried about the plaster degrading but more the idle vandals.”

However, an Islington Council spokesperson added it was installing a hoarding around the site which would have plastic panels to “allow clear views.”

The new security measures were also reportedly installed in a direct response to concerns raised by tenants over the last week about the crowds gathering and the “disruption this is causing to their lives.” The council added it encourages residents to report anti-social behavior to them, welcoming conversations to help solve it.

“We’ve had a lot of concerns from our residents about disruption from the numbers of visitors to the artwork, which is right outside their homes,” the council said in a statement.

“We will monitor and review arrangements at the site, and will continue to explore future solutions with the building owner so people can enjoy the artwork.”

“When it first went up it was nice,” Mary Dickenson, who lives locally, told BBC London. “Someone did try to destroy it, and they've blocked everything off now, so you can't really see anything.”

Güley Polat, who travelled to see the mural from Germany, arrived to see the plastic covering and boards. “It’s very sad. What I see is a disaster. I don't like it,” she said. “It seems like we are in prison. I think Banksy doesn't want to have his street art in a prison.”


Tagged categories: Artists; Color + Design; Design; Design - Commercial; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Good Technical Practice; Government; Murals; Murals; Program/Project Management; Projects - Commercial; Safety; Vandalism

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