Southeastern staff joined members of the local community at Herne Hill station last Wednesday in setting a new Guinness World Record for the most contributions to a ‘colour by numbers’ picture that will transform a busy underpass.
Through the efforts of over 2,332 local primary school children, film star Mark Rylance, local politician Helen Hayes MP, the Mayoress of Southwark and the Mayor of Lambeth, local residents and rail passengers who stopped off on their way home, the 40-metre long mural was created in just two days.
Local artist Victor Szepessy was commissioned by Herne Hill Forum to create a design that would transform the underpass between Station Square and Milkwood Road. He chose to incorporate a range of people, places, fables and myths from Herne Hill history.
Children from eight primary schools in Herne Hill - Jessop, Michael Tippett (children with special educational and physical needs) , Herne Hill School, St Jude’s, Turney (children with learning difficulties), Rosendale, St Saviour’s and Judith Kerr – spent two days colouring the mural with paint pens, helped by Southeastern staff and members of the public keen to help break the Guinness World Record.
Southeastern Managing Director and local resident David Statham volunteered at the world record attempt, helping local primary school children complete the mural. He said: “It was fantastic to see the local community come together to help colour the mural, which I’m sure people will be proud to walk past for many years to come.”
“This complements work we’re already doing to regenerate Herne Hill and a number of stations on our network. We have some beautiful station buildings and understand looking after them is important – not only as guardians of history, but also so local communities can be proud of the stations they use every day.”
The new 40 metre long mural will be placed on the wall that runs along the “piano” side of the underpass and will be unveiled on 30th September. Over 6,000 colour by number sections were completed over the two days, by Herne’s Hill’s local community. The mural has been created on parachute fabric, which will then be pasted into place once completed, before being covered with anti-grafitti varnish. The extensively used passageway provides a vital link between local shops, businesses, transport hubs and public spaces. It is just one element of a big and ambitious transformation programme for the station which includes new lighting, removing anti-graffiti panelling and providing a new lick of paint. The station side of the underpass will also undergo a facelift, with new boards added so members of the community can display artwork, exhibitions and local information.
Lucy Reynolds, Project Manager at the Herne Hill Forum explains: “The idea behind the world record attempt was to give the children of Herne Hill a day they will remember for the rest of their lives, whilst creating a beautiful space right at the heart of our community. The mural was inspired by local residents who wanted to have a focal point where they can understand the history of where they live.”
Victor Szepessy, Illustrator and Muralist, added: “The idea for this massive mural came from working with kids on the Brockwell Passage mural. As I was painting the outline, local kids started running up and asking if they could colour it in, so I gave them brushes and paint and we ended up making it together.”
“When it was finished we saw kids going by with their parents, pointing and saying “I made that.” I hope that creating a nice space together as a community will give the kids and everyone involved a sense of connection and pride in their area, plus a vision of what we can achieve when we work together.”
In addition to sprucing up the station, Herne Hill Forum is currently working with Southeastern to plan how they can develop a space on the first floor of the station which is currently not used into a new town hall and community centre. The Forum are exploring ways to raise funds for the new space, including a bid to the GLA Good Growth Fund.
Lucy Reynolds from Herne Hill Forum said: “The unused station space is huge, with beautiful views across Herne Hill. Our vision is to turn this forgotten place into a vibrant forum for events, activities and entrepreneurship, harnessing the demand for a new civic space right at the heart of our community. We would love to hear people’s ideas for how we might use this space.”