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.
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.
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.
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
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