Street Art Tour of Graffiti Tunnel


Idalis Foster is a student at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in London, England.

When I was on an ISA bus tour in London, a friend of mine asked our Blue Badge guide about the graffiti scene in the city. Our tour guide filled us in on Banksy, an English-based graffiti artist ,and his effect on London’s view on graffiti which sparked my interest in the scene itself.

After a month or so I had forgotten about said interaction, getting caught up in trying to settle into my courses and going on various excursions. However, a couple of weeks ago my cousin Nicolas messaged me with the name of a place to visit with the instruction to take pictures for him. This place is the Graffiti Tunnel.

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo1There were eyes and strategically placed messages throughout the tunnel

This tunnel, also known as the Banksy Tunnel or Leake Street Tunnel, is located right underneath the train platforms of Waterloo Station and was originally used in 2008 by Banksy in an attempt to make a filthy tunnel into a work of art. Today it has become a permanent showcase for various graffiti artists interested in leaving their mark.

I had been to Waterloo Station tons of times before I finally found out about this secret treasure. My boyfriend Mark and I walked through the tunnel slowly looking at all of the graffiti pieces, from the top of the ceiling to the very bottom of every wall.

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo2 My boyfriend Mark really enjoyed the art, particularly all of the nods to American politics considering the current election

It was a lot to take in and each piece of art’s message represented things such as, political statements to superhero depictions.

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo3 Due to the current U.S. election has become, it was no surprise to me that there was a depiction of Trump alongside a couple of his choice words

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo4 Superheroes were present throughout the tunnel, from Spiderman to the Hulk

We were even lucky enough to come across an artist working on a large piece right by the entrance to the tunnel, surrounded by spray paint cans and with a small audience of onlookers.

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo5 Based on the detail of the lettering the man was using, we could tell he’d been at work for hours

Graffiti is often seen as vandalism and not an art form but artists like Banksy made it profitable and more mainstream. With Banksy’s temporary takeover of this tunnel came a permanent allowance for this art form to be practiced in this space, transforming empty dark tunnel into an art gallery of graffiti.

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo6 The colors of this particular piece caught my eye right away, especially since it was on the ceiling

graffititunnel_london_england_idalisfoster_photo7The graffiti didn’t end with the tunnel but followed it out

London has plenty of hidden treasures and this is just one of them. I can’t wait to see what else I find in the rest of my time here!

The world awaits…discover it.

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