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Fantasy world below London’s streets brought to life in ‘Stories from the Sewer’

A fantasy world set in London’s sewers, dreamed up by a Southwark artist and local schoolchildren, has been unveiled as a piece of hoarding at one of the construction sites for London’s ‘super sewer’.

‘Stories from the Sewer’, a giant piece of art which will adorn the hoardings around Tideway’s Chambers Wharf site in Bermondsey, was created by artist John Walter with the help of Riverside Primary school pupils.

During a series of workshops delivered by the artist last year, pupils were introduced to a wide range of drawing techniques and graphic styles, alongside research into the history and future of London’s sewers.

The finished work explores a deep and mysterious realm beneath Bermondsey, where Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mister Fox brushes shoulders with Old Father Thames, Riverside Primary School pupils encounter a gigantic fatberg and its child, Little Miss Fatberg, and superheroes play beside Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the engineer of London’s Victorian sewers.

Jose Lewis, Headteacher of Riverside Primary, said: 
“The children had a great time learning about the history behind London’s sewers. We are eager to see the artwork displayed at Chambers Wharf, produced by John.”

Mr Walter, who lives in Old Kent Road, said: 
“It’s been exciting to make such a large-scale public project around this great civic infrastructure project alongside such a bright group of young people."

Jackie Roe, Tideway’s delivery manager for the East section, said: 
“As we work towards helping to clean up the River Thames, it’s also a big priority for us to engage with the communities and create a positive legacy in the areas where our sites are based. We are delighted the children of Riverside Primary enjoyed their experience working with John to create this colourful piece of artwork.”

Artists were invited to apply for the chance to create the large-scale piece of artwork that will surround the work site for around two years.

A panel of judges including a local resident, council representatives and Riverside Primary staff picked the winning artist.

Mr Walter studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, the Slade School of Fine Art and recently completed a PhD in Architecture at the University of Westminster. He was awarded The Sainsbury Scholarship at the British School at Rome 2006-8 and was a participant in Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (USA) in 2012.