Where To See London’s Best Street Art on the South Bank

Leake Street Tunnel is home to some of London’s most distinctive graffiti
Leake Street Tunnel is home to some of London’s most distinctive graffiti | © John Hill / Alamy Stock Photo

London’s South Bank has worked as a huge canvas for graffiti artists for decades. With some of the biggest legal writing spots in the UK, it’s easy to find street art by the next Banksy or even a piece by the man himself.

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Head underground to Southbank Skatepark

The Southbank Undercroft attracts skaters from across the city

This urban underground haven known as the Undercroft was made famous by the 2005 documentary Rollin’ Through the Decades, which examined the park’s love-hate relationship with South Bank developers. The spot has always been extremely popular with graffiti artists and is constantly being covered in new work. In 2008, the South African artist Robin Rhode was commissioned to clean up the area with a sleek new paint job to coincide with his exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, but it only lasted a few days before being retagged. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see tourists taking photos of skateboarders and existing art than actually spot any work being made.

Scope out a Banksy at Leake Street Tunnel

Leake Street Tunnel was made famous by Banksy

This huge tunnel behind Waterloo station might be a bit of a nightmare to find, but it’s well worth the trip. The 200-metre-long site is a legal graffiti spot and has led to painting events run by Banksy, such as his Cans Festival that launched the tunnel as a street art phenomenon in 2008. The environment is constantly changing, which means you will undoubtedly encounter something new every time you venture down the road.

Look out for Hungerford Bridge’s stick people

Graffiti on Hungerford Bridge across Thames River, London

Bridges naturally attract graffiti writers, but this railway line has enjoyed an official lick of paint by Stik, who is known for his images of friendly, minimally etched people. In 2013, using a bright yellow backdrop to lighten up the concrete, the British artist painted a whole crowd of his trademark stick people before inviting amateurs to customise them as they saw fit.

Explore the walls of the Southbank Centre

Over the years, this multi-disciplinary arts centre has commissioned numerous artists to produce large-scale works across the building’s many walls, walkways and concrete staircases – often to coincide with cultural festivals. Most notable pieces include two fighting squirrels by Belgian artist ROA, creepy figures by Sheffield-based Phlegm and beautiful typography by East London’s Bread Collective, which were all completed in 2013 as part of a Southbank Centre project.
Cajsa Carlson contributed additional reporting to this article.

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