Lockdown has been such a strange time for us all but there has been so much culture available to us online. However, the other day whilst making my way through the back streets from the South Bank to Waterloo Station I came across a physical example of what has been produced. A celebration of the heroes of our time – the NHS – through street art.
Under the railway bridge between Waterloo and Waterloo East is this tribute – the NHS as Superman – by Lionel Stanhope. He trained as a sign writer and has worked at Elstree Studios, Hollywood, Disneyland painting scenery for TV shows and films.
Over the last few years he has done several collaborations with Network Rail – mainly vintage railway-style signs under bridges. During the lockdown he asked Network Rail for a bridge wall to paint on and they gave him this wall in Cornwall Street by Waterloo Station and not far from St Thomas’s Hospital where so many seriously ill COVID-19 patients (including the Prime Minister) have been treated.
The mural appeared on 1 May when this pedestrianised area was pretty deserted. It took only 5 hours to complete – Lionel Stanhope was under some time pressure as a photographer was there creating a time lapse of his work.
This is not the only lockdown art he has created – in Ladywell, south east London he has painted a version of Caravaggio’s “Supper in Emmaus” with Jesus wearing blue surgical gloves. The original is in the National Gallery which was one of the first cultural venues to reopen under the easing of the lockdown restrictions.
Street art is very accessible even in these social distancing times and there is plenty to see on our Essential Street Art tour in Whitechapel and Shoreditch and on tours passing along Bankside.