Redecorating Forest Hill Subway [2020]

Anybody know how we can go about getting the subway painted by a graffiti artist? Sounds like a perfect time to do so right after the big clean.


To repeat my other post, I would second that!
I would love to see some welcoming and inspiring colourful creativity in that space by these talented artists currently brighting up corners of FH.


These guys do some amazing stuff:

They do it for only the cost of the paint which I’m sure we could easily crowd fund.

The main remaining question is who can give permission?


I’d prefer to keep it graffiti free. It’s a dingy space and any artwork will start others tagging. It may be nice for a few weeks, but I think it would be a downward spiral until people start avoiding it.


@Andy I disagree you only have to look at other subways that have done the same to
See how it brightens up the space. Any tags would go unnoticed against the artwork and would be rather pointless for the culprit. However a bright white wall just attracts dirt and bad graffiti.


When the Old St Station subway was drenched in colour, it felt more inviting than beforehand, and as far as I’ve seen, there hasn’t been an uptick in tagging


I’d suggest and say that you only have to look at other subways that are wrecked spaces as evidence of how graffiti can detract from a space.

Happy to be convinced by photos of other subways that have been grafittied, but the ones linked to by Chris appear to include an artist’s render and a freshly painted wall. I’m sure that, day 1, it would look great, but it is day 365 that I would be doubtful about.

The FH subway would surely counter that premises.

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As previously mentioned, I remember when Herne Hill underpass was grotty and a place to be avoided. A recent visit and their mural still looks colourful and inviting. Any tagging get’s cleaned up by local effort (as does the tagging on the current blank dreary FH underpass)

I agree with @chamonix a blank wall is more a target for tagging and bad graffiti than a creative colourful piece/s of artwork that can be enjoyed by the whole community.


Personally I like the subway clean and easy to disinfect. Many thanks to those who take the trouble to clean it. I do think graffiti breeds graffiti. And who can set themselves in judgment to decide what’s “good” and what’s “bad” graffiti? There’s very little that I’ve seen that’s not repetitive or derivative. (Ducks now.) If we have to have any then I’d say hoardings are fair game, as they’re (hopefully) not there long and if keeps people from tagging brickwork etc then I won’t object as long as it’s privately funded and cleaned.

Edit: AK8’s post about the Herne Hill children’s work appeared while I was writing my post. I do feel differently about little children’s work (though not on brickwork! - it should still be removable.) And I think it would have been much better if the Herne Hill children had got to design it too.


@Andy you only need to look at the response to the graffiti artists on the temporary boards by the old coop to see the effect. I’d be happy for them to take the same designs and apply to the underpass. Wether it’s paint, mosiac or spray paint makes no difference. We’re talking about commissioned artists not 15yr olds with a spray can.

To make this happen we need to find out who to ask to get permission. Is it the council?

I think this could be TFL owned

I found an old article from 2012 on the reburbishment of the station underpass on the Forest Hill Society website including a letter that was sent to our then MP in which it stated

Network Rail own the right of way, but share responsibilities for maintenance with Lewisham Council.


I’m not a particular fan of this idea. The white panels bounce light into the underpass. When at their cleanest the underpass positively shines.

This leaves the brick work at the Dartmouth end bit. I suppose a mural could be painted there, but I often find murals become quickly dated and faded. And while some might enjoy a giant child’s painting, other (like myself) might find them naive and lacking in merit. Why should we have to suffer bad art?

I’m sure a graffiti/urban artist could be found but it might take much more than a few pots of paint. And if a graffiti/urban artist if commissioned they should be expected to be paid for their work. But to me the beauty of this type of art is its transient nature. That it is often replenished by other artists, and sometimes even augmented. The work currently on old Coop hoardings is a great example. They’re not permanent, some might change (banana) and other might give way to new works.


Actually I know of a lot of very talented artists who will paint something amazing for just the cost of the paint and be happy to do so.
Personally I find the white boarding to be rather depressing so there’s going to be a large range of feelings on the matter.


So I suppose the council would be a good place to start. Anyone know someone we could approach ?

Maybe we’d prefer to point our attention to the busy portacabin train station and it’s frontage rather than decorating the tunnel. Just a thought, like.


I would rather it stayed light and bright as it is. Instead how about addressing the unsightly bins on the WH Smith side. Some more art around there would help too.


I see the comments about not wanting to make the underpass darker or somehow vandalised, but I don’t think adding some art or identity to that space is synonymous with it becoming somehow dimly lit or subject to graffiti.

All that’s needed is something light, simple or subtle to make the underpass less unremarkable. The already cited example shows how this could be done with a geometric design, though I think Forest Hill should aim higher :slight_smile:

The outstanding indented and standout idents @Lionel has drawn under various railway bridges have also survived very well and not attracted more graffiti or vandalism. I don’t think that should be any more of an issue than current maintenance of the area.

So I would welcome some sort of character being added to that underpass, but would ideally like to see a short list of possible designs and public vote to select what might finally be painted.

Of course organising this all on a small budget may prove tricky…


I understand the thinking behind this idea but the underpass which is seen by some people each day does not look bad right now. However around the station/WH Smith area does need attention and is seen by many more people each day. I feel there could be more dramatic results in those areas.

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