Leake Street, the graffiti-legal tunnel underneath Waterloo station, is a gloriously anarchic place, open to anyone with a spray can and an idea. Hundreds of striking designs compete for the attention of passers by and nothing survives for long. Now, a group of enterprising photography students are seeking to use Leake Street as a venue to combine their own work with that of established street artists.
On Friday, thirty-two large-scale photographs were pasted up along the length of the tunnel, each representing a surface or view that would normally be inaccessible to graffiti artists. The images will remain there for one week, during which, invited artists and the general public are able to contribute their own stylings, interacting with the photos as they see fit.
The project has been well organised, attracting back artists who participated in last year's Banksy-led Cans Festival. The work underway on Friday evening was impressive and it will be interesting to see how these pieces are added to over the next few days. Bringing together such a talented bunch to work their magic simultaneously feels like a much more positive use of the space; a bold creative statement in contrast to the regular, low-level redecoration.
On the downside, the photos aren't big enough to make that much of an impact. It's difficult to effectively collaborate when you're working on two different scales and, for the most part, the graffiti artists have just done their own thing over the top. I got the impression that little had been prepared especially for the project. This spontaneous interaction was always in the organisers' minds, but I would sense they must feel some disappointment that their work has ended up being very much the junior partner in this endeavour.
That said, this is still something worth seeing, especially if you're around the Southbank at all over the next few days. Total Rewall has achieved something, though maybe not what was originally intended.
Words by Tom Williams, photography by Jon Asby
Total Rewall is in Leake Street until Friday.