Lambeth Palace: Banksy Pop-up Cinema and The Old Vic Tunnels

(Image: s.butterfly, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission)

An underground London cinema opened by the illusive street artist Banksy was purchased by the Old Vic Theatre Company last year, and looks set to host a series of “innovative and surprising arts events” throughout 2011.  Opened as “The Lambeth Palace” to screen the UK premiere of Banksy’s film Exit Through the Gift Shop, the cinema and surrounding space are now known as the Old Vic Tunnels, a diverse venue engaging young Londoners in theatre and the arts.

(Image: s.butterfly, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission)

The Old Vic, under the artistic direction of actor Kevin Spacey, acquired the tunnels beneath Waterloo station from BRB (Residuary), formerly British Rail, in February 2010.  The subterranean performance space is located in a set of Victorian railway arches along Leake Street, which runs directly beneath Waterloo’s platforms and tracks.

(Images: s.butterfly, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission)

No longer the exclusive domain of urban explorers, the Lambeth Palace (pop-up) cinema features dark red seating and leather sofas amid the unmistakable atmosphere generated by Victorian railway architecture.  Recent acts included a two night set by The New York Dolls, promoting the UK release of their new album Dancing Backwards in High Heels.

(Images: s.butterfly, all rights reserved, reproduced with permission)

A variety of events have taken place over the last few months, including SlapDash, a three day festival of Improvisation, the UK premiere of Scorched, and the first music concert in the venue featuring Mercury Prize-winning band Villagers.  In addition, The Old Vic Tunnels volunteers produced a cross-art collaboration called Dark Carnival: Notes from Underground.

(Image: via ethur.org)

Leake Street, also known as the “Banksy tunnel“, beneath Waterloo station in Lambeth, London, shot to prominence during the “Cans Festival” of 2008, an event organised by Banksy that saw the tunnel walls decorated with graffiti.  Though not technically legal, authorities tolerate the ongoing creation of graffiti in the tunnel.  Leake Street’s arguably most famous urban art – ironically now painted over – is a work of graffiti depicting the removal of graffiti, created by Banksy in May 2008.

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