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Speculation Banksy is behind new tree mural in London street

Crowds have gathered at the site of an artwork in north London thought to be by street artist Banksy.

The mural - a mass of green paint sprayed on a wall behind a cut-back tree to look like foliage, with a stencil of a person holding a pressure hose next to it - appeared on Sunday.

It has not yet been confirmed by the artist as one of his own.

One local, who lives in Finsbury Park, said they were "proud and delighted" their street had been chosen.

"It feels like a personal message to us residents, we just feel so proud", said Wanja Sellers, who lives just a few doors down from the mural.

It appeared on Hornsey Road in Finsbury Park, north London, on Sunday morning.

One person who rushed to see the work was James Peak, who created the BBC Radio 4 series The Banksy Story.

"To my mind it looks like a dead cert," he said.

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

The elusive artist officially confirms his work by posting pictures on his website and social media - which has not yet been done for the Finsbury tree. The BBC has contacted Banksy's team for comment.

But documentary maker Mr Peak said the artwork "certainly bears all of the hallmarks" of a Banksy.

"It has got the right techniques, it certainly has an easy-to-understand message, a very clever location, and it really resonates the second you see it".

"The message is clear," he said. "Nature's struggling and it is up to us to help it grow back."

Mr Peak said: "If you go way back to the beginning of his work, he is always looking for something he can do with minimum effort to make something look really cool."

He added that the mural - a "great arterial spray of green paint" up a white wall, accompanied by a "classic Banksy-style stencil" - would probably have been created using a pressure hose or fire extinguisher.

The colour of the green paint used matches that used by Islington Council for signs in the local area, which Mr Peak said showed the Banksy eye for detail.

"When you step back it looks like the tree is bursting to life, but in a noticeably fake and synthetic way.

"It's spring now, and this tree should be bursting forth with leaves, but Banksy must have cycled past and thought how miserable it looks," he said.

"So, on St Patrick's Day, he has taken exactly the same shade of green Islington Council use for their street signs and used a pressure hose or a fire extinguisher to spray the leaves back in, onto the rather dilapidated wall behind."

And, speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Peak said, by incorporating a tree into the artwork, the artist has "solved an emerging problem" of people trying to steal Banksy's work.

In December, a piece of Banksy artwork was removed in broad daylight from Peckham in London. Police are still trying to track it down.

"I don't think anyone is going to be able to nick this... how are you going to steal a tree?"

The mural generated a lot of intrigue over the weekend, with "lots of people milling about" on Sunday afternoon, Mr Peak said. "Everyone's very excited".

While he was viewing the art, he met Islington councillor Flora Williamson while she was out canvassing.

Ms Williamson said it was "incredible" to potentially have a Banksy artwork "right in the middle of social housing and one of the poorest parts of the borough".

"I think it adds intrigue and culture and brings the area to life", she said.

Mr Peak said there was often a "Banksy effect" which had been seen in places like Port Talbot and Norfolk when artworks had appeared there, with people rushing to take pictures of the murals.

It was still "causing a real stir" on Monday morning, according to BBC Radio London reporter Anna O'Neill, with at least 30 people there to see the artwork at any one time.

One of them was Finsbury Park resident Aileen, who said when she first walked past the mural on Sunday, she immediately thought "that must be a Banksy".

Another, Lidia Guerra, who lives on Hornsey Road, said she feels "so proud he chose our street".

"It's just great... we knew we had to come and see it as soon as possible".

Meanwhile podcast presenter Sally Flatman said she came down to view the artwork after hearing about it on the radio.

"To me, it speaks about how precious green spaces are, and how we need more of them in our urban areas".

Locals have also taken to social media following the artwork's appearance.

One said: "Banksy came overnight and now my rent will skyrocket."

While another said: "Proud new caretakers of an apparent new Banksy piece in Finsbury Park... Woke up this morning to it on the side of the flat."