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    HomeEntertainmentBanksy artwork creates urban tree debate, says pruning firm boss

    Banksy artwork creates urban tree debate, says pruning firm boss

    • By Thomas Mackintosh
    • BBC News

    Image caption,

    A stencil of a person holding a pressure hose has also been sketched on to the building in north London

    The boss of a firm responsible for pruning a tree at the centre of a new Banksy artwork in north London says the mural has “enhanced” the area.

    It features green paint on a wall behind a cut-back, or pollarded, tree to look like foliage.

    Lawrence-Thor Stephen, 33, says the art has generated healthy discussion about trees in urban parts of the capital.

    Banksy’s latest work also features a stencil of a person, holding a sprayer, next to it.

    Video caption,

    Watch: New London tree artwork is ”unmistakably Banksy”

    The artist claimed the mural as his own on Instagram, following speculation after it appeared on a building on Hornsey Road on Sunday.

    Mr Stephen, who runs Thor Trees, told BBC London his company had a contract with Islington Council and was responsible for pruning trees in the borough.

    ‘Under strict instructions’

    He said he recognised the tree, which was pruned by one of his team a few weeks ago, while watching a TV news bulletin on BBC One.

    “We were under strict instruction how to prune the tree almost to the centimetre as to where they [Islington Council] wanted to prune it,” Mr Stephen, of Enfield, said.

    “Islington is a beautiful borough anyway and a lot of the trees are protected, but it has 100% enhanced that area of Islington,” he said of Banksy’s work.

    “It is great how it has inspired Banksy. He would have needed a complete blank canvas so he must have walked past that tree and thought ‘that is an ideal blank canvas for me to work with’.”

    Islington Council says the cherry tree chosen by Banksy is 40-50 years old and in declining health, with decay and fungi damage.

    Mr Stephen explained his team used an “ancient form of pruning” known as pollarding – where the upper parts of the tree are removed.

    He explained the practice limits the tree’s growth and stops weak branches from falling off.

    “It is a really good way of increasing the lifespan of the tree and containing the growth of the tree,” Mr Stephen explained.

    “I am hoping it will burst with growth in the spring and it will be interesting to see how the artwork progresses in the coming months.”

    Image source, Ella Nunn/PA Wire

    Image caption,

    Streams of people have travelled to see the artwork since it first appeared

    People have been turning up to see the work, with one Finsbury Park resident saying they were “proud” their street had been chosen.

    Mr Stephen added: “It has gone mad there.

    “It has brought a lot of attention from naturists, tourists and loads of discussions within professional bodies.

    “The conversation which is going on around that piece is extraordinary – and it is great how art can bring discussion of the practice of tree cutting to people’s attention.

    “It has awoken the importance of trees in the urban environment and how they get managed.

    “It is really good to know people are opening up around the discussion of art and urban landscapes.”

    Alex Georgiou, whose company owns the building with the mural on, has said he plans on keeping the artwork on the wall “and letting people enjoy it”.

    Image source, James Peak/The Banksy Story

    Image caption,

    The colour used for the artwork is the same as that of the Islington Council signs, as seen in the foreground

    Islington Council said its graffiti removal team was aware of the artwork and would not remove it.

    “Culture is a powerful way to tell meaningful stories and we welcome this artwork in Islington, a borough that celebrates creativity,” a spokesperson said.

    “This fantastic piece from Banksy has sparked a real buzz across Islington and beyond, and we very much want the artwork to stay for people to enjoy.”

    The council added it had planted nearly 90 trees in the past year alone and this particular tree had been maintained for some time and pruned for safety in an effort to help prolong its lifespan.

    it added it would continue to work to try and keep the tree alive and that it should re-bud across its crown.

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