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Recent Banksy tree mural in North London defaced with white paint

Recent Banksy tree mural in North London defaced with white paint

The most recent work by the elusive street artist Banksy, located on Hornsey Road in London's Finsbury Park, has been vandalised with white paint, just three days after it was unveiled.

Two distinct streaks of paint have been splattered across the green patches covering the side of the four-storey building.

Created behind a pruned tree, the large spray-painted artwork aims to replicate the foliage of the tree, which has been severely cropped in a process known as pollarding - a method of pruning that restricts natural growth, according to RHS Gardening.

Banksy officially claimed ownership of the mural in an Instagram post on Monday, after widespread speculation that it could be one of his creations.

The new Banksy has attracted some high profile visitors, including former UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“Banksy has come to Islington!” he posted online. “What wonderful artwork, proving there is hope for our natural world everywhere.”

Have other Banksy works been vandalised in the past?

A view of the Banksy mural which targets the issue of Government surveillance with silver and red paint sprayed over it, Cheltenham, England.
A view of the Banksy mural which targets the issue of Government surveillance with silver and red paint sprayed over it, Cheltenham, England. - Credit: Claire Hayhurst/AP

The short answer is yes! The politically-charged and thought-provoking street art of Banksy has been vandalised and defaced on MANY instances throughout the years.

In April 2007, for example, Banksy's renowned 2002 piece near Old Street station in London, depicting John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson's Pulp Fiction characters wielding bananas instead of guns, was painted over by Transport for London workers, despite its estimated value exceeding £300,000 at the time.

When questioned about the destruction of the mural, a Transport for London spokesman said "Our graffiti removal teams are staffed by professional cleaners not professional art critics."

Similarly, on 22 June 2009, the artwork "Well Hung Lover" on the side of Brook Sexual Health Clinic in Bristol was splattered with blue paint in an overnight paint bomb attack. The incident is rumoured to have been the handiwork of a disgruntled Bristol Rovers football club fan.

Bristol's Banksy mural "Girl with a Pierced Eardrum" adorned with a face mask, in reference to the ongoing pandemic lockdown in the UK.
Bristol's Banksy mural "Girl with a Pierced Eardrum" adorned with a face mask, in reference to the ongoing pandemic lockdown in the UK. - Credit: Ben Birchall/AP

While not all instances can be categorised as vandalism, Banksy's works sometimes undergo alterations or additions. For instance, the mural "Girl with a Pierced Eardrum," a parody of Johannes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring," which appeared in Bristol in 2014, was adorned with a face mask resembling those worn by NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic. The identity of the artist responsible for adding the mask remains unknown.

Numerous works by Banksy have also been stolen throughout the years. In a recent incident, a newly unveiled anti-war artwork featuring a "stop" traffic sign with three 3D military drones, believed to relate to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, was robbed less than an hour after its installation. Two suspects were arrested in connection with the alleged theft of the piece.