Female Artists Take Over the Leake Street Tunnel in Waterloo and Paint it Pink for International Womens Day

The famous Leake Street Tunnel in the arches underneath Waterloo Station has never seen anything quite like this. It’s previously dark graffiti daubed walls had been turned bright pink by over 100 female street artists preparing their ground for an assault on a spray painting world record to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness and to celebrate International Womens Day.

Part of the week long Femme Fierce series of events, the intention was to create the worlds largest continuous spray paint mural by multiple artists. With paint donated by the Forest Recycling Project The walls were being prepped in order to give a consistent background and then it was up to the artists, each with different styles to create their own work and then attempt to blend in with others around them.

The walls of the Leake Street tunnel have never been so bright

The walls of the Leake Street tunnel have never been so bright

Ayaan Bulale from Street Art Agency giving a morning briefing to all the artists

Ayaan Bulale from Street Art Agency giving a morning briefing to all the artists

Organised by Ayaan Bulale from the Street Art Agency and supported by Earthtone Arts based out of Hackney Wick’s Cre8 Gallery, the Femme Fierce Leake Street Takeover has evolved into one of the most ambitious street art projects ever held in London. Artists from all over the world were joined by art lovers, curious passers by and a whole host of interested media outlets who brought lights, cameras and action to the tunnels once murky archways.

For the women involved it’s also a unique opportunity to meet other female artists in a medium which could in the past be seen as male dominated. A number of the artists told me that even they had sometimes assumed that works seen on the street had been drawn by men and it was only here that they realise that much of the art on the streets is produced by women. Spanish artist Boxhead summarised things by saying “people think I’m a guy just because I do street art” before the Femme Fierce event it seem that this was the default position.

A barrel of Femme Fierce Pink paint donated by the Forest Recycling Project

A barrel of Femme Fierce Pink paint donated by the Forest Recycling Project

Many of the artists told a similar story and all expressed how glad they were to meet other women who were interested in the same thing. London’s Karis Knight told me how inspirational it felt to be in the company of established female artists such as Norways Zina, the UK’s Artista and Swedens Amara Por Dios “they are just so incredibly talented and it’s really nice to know that you’re not the only girl doing it” she told me.

For Cbloxx, a professional muralist from Leeds the opportunity to come and take part was too good a chance to pass up “it’s a chance to showcase what we can do” she told me “it’s such a male dominated scene it’s just nice to hook up with a load of girls and just recognise what everyones doing”. French artist Zabou told me a similar tale saying that she had previously known of only about 5-10 female street artists but now, “it’s like woah!!! We are quite a lot, you know!” and she’s right, the scene is big and getting bigger amongst women.

Zabou next to her 'Girls Reload' image

Zabou next to her ‘Girls Reload’ image

Ayaan Bulale from the Street Art Agency next to work from Hannah Adamaszek

Ayaan Bulale from the Street Art Agency next to work from Hannah Adamaszek

Such is the nature of the tunnel, first made famous as a legal graffiti spot when Banksy hosted his Cans Festival there in 2008, the art on the walls will no doubt not last long. The art is ever changing and finally the pink will begin to fade, reclaimed eventally by the many other writers and street artists who will slowly retake the walls. The impact, left though by this celebration of female street art won’t go away anytime soon. The cat is well and truly out of the bag and the girls are here to stay.

The Femme Fierce Leake Street Takeover took place on Saturday 8th March at the Leake Street Tunnel in Waterloo. It featured 100 female street artists in an attempt to create the World’s largest continuous mural by multiple artists.

Femme Fierce Artist Gallery

Lady Lash Dee from London painting a Robin

Lady Lash Dee from London painting a Robin

Vanesa Longschamp also known as Vlong from Argentina

Vanesa Longschamp also known as Vlong from Argentina

Neonita from the Girls on Top Crew

Neonita from the Girls on Top Crew

Joyce Treasure next to her wall

Joyce Treasure next to her wall

Splashes everywhere on this artists work

Splashes everywhere on this artists work

Steffi Bow all the way over from Dubai was in patriotic mood in Leake Street

Steffi Bow all the way over from Dubai was in patriotic mood in Leake Street

Saki & Bitches next to her pair of blue Kimono girls

Saki & Bitches next to her pair of blue Kimono girls

Boxhead next to her work in the tunnel

Boxhead next to her work in the tunnel

Elno from Barcelona in Spain

Elno from Barcelona in Spain

Akit painted the South Bank

Akit painted the South Bank

Akit from above

Akit from above

Beth Robb normally a graphic designer and illustrator going big with her black and white characters

Beth Robb normally a graphic designer and illustrator going big with her black and white characters

Antoaneta from the Forest Recycling Project who donated the pink paint thought she'd have a go too

Antoaneta from the Forest Recycling Project who donated the pink paint thought she’d have a go too

Hoshiko, a UK based street artist painted a cute blue sparrow

Hoshiko, a UK based street artist painted a cute blue sparrow

Zina painting a tribute to her friend

Zina painting a tribute to her friend Laura Cherry who was recently diagnosed with the rare Morgellons Disease which affects the skin and she wanted to raise awareness of this.

Pang caught in animated mid-interview

Pang caught in animated mid-interview

Karis Knight likes to draw with patterns and geometric shapes

Karis Knight likes to draw with patterns and geometric shapes

Ashes 57 usually draws in black and white but decided to make and exception

Ashes 57 usually draws in black and white but decided to make an exception for Femme Fierce

Hannah Adamaszek giving an interview

Hannah Adamaszek giving an interview

Cbloxx from Leeds creating leading the Yorkshire representation

Cbloxx from Leeds leading the Yorkshire representation

Roo adding the finishing touches

Roo adding the finishing touches

Hazard from Bristol

Hazard from Bristol

Saki and Bitches gets her blue paint on

Saki and Bitches gets her blue paint on

Kayleigh Doughty also known as Artista

Kayleigh Doughty also known as Artista

Girls on Top were well represented

Girls on Top were well represented

Lupita made this lovely golden character

Lupita made this lovely golden character

Lana from Animaux Circus decided to go solo for Femme Fierce and was popular with the media

Lana from Animaux Circus decided to go solo for Femme Fierce and was popular with the media

Stephanie Thieu going all Femme Fierce next to her fantastic work of art

Stephanie Thieu going all Femme Fierce next to her fantastic work of art

Amara Por Dios next to her typically dynamic mural

Amara Por Dios next to her typically dynamic mural

For more Inspiring City articles relating to Femme Fierce and for more information on some of the artists featured check out:

Interview with Artista
Interview with Lana Alana
Interview with Steffi Bow
Interview with Zabou
Interview with Hannah Adamaszek
Paint Jam in the East End featuring Thieu, Vanesa Longchamp, Hannah Adamaszek and Amara Por Dios