A New Banksy Mural Sprouts Beside A Cropped Tree In London

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LONDON (AP) — A new Banksy mural drew crowds to a London street on Monday, even before the elusive graffiti artist confirmed that the work was his.

The artwork in the Finsbury Park neighborhood covers the wall of a four-story building and shows a small figure holding a pressure hose beside a large cherry tree. Green paint has been sprayed across the wall, replicating the absent leaves of the tree, which has been severely cropped.

Banksy claimed the work by posting before and after photos of the location on his official Instagram account.

The new attraction drew a stream of onlookers who took photos and snapped selfies. Many discerned an environmental message in the vibrant green artwork, which appeared on Sunday — St. Patrick’s Day.

“The tree looks very sad without branches and greenery,” said Pura Lawler, on her way to a gym class. She felt Banksy was saying something about “destroying the forests, destroying the greenery.”

Banksy, who has never confirmed his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world’s best-known artists.

His mischievous and often satirical images include two policemen kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces, and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words, “Laugh now, but one day I’ll be in charge.”

Banksy’s work has sold for millions of dollars at auction, and past murals on outdoor sites have often been stolen or removed by building owners soon after going up. In December, after Banksy stenciled military drones on a stop sign in south London, a man was photographed taking down the sign with bolt cutters. Police later arrested two men on suspicion of theft and criminal damage.

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