Shepard Fairey's paintings to be displayed in Newcastle's Victoria Tunnel
Skateboard artist Shepard Fairey sprang to prominence in 2008 when he produced the famous Hope poster that featured on the front became a symbol for Barack Obama’s first election campaign and was eventually bought by America’s National Portrait Gallery.
Fairey’s work has also featured in the Iron Man films and he appeared as himself in an episode of The Simpsons while in 2003 he designed the album cover for will.i.am’s second solo album Must B 21.
Now Fairey is one of 12 artists who will be showing off work in the Victoria Tunnel, which runs under Newcastle from Ouseburn to the Town Moor.
The Into the Dark event on June 12 will feature a dozen artists from around the world.
Curator Danny Hughes, from the Newcastle-based street art collective Unit 44, said he wanted to stage the event to introduce new people to the Victoria Tunnel.
He said: “There’s a been a few projects underground in America and that was at the back of our minds. With this project, it emerged from a meeting we had with the Ouseburn Trust.
“They’re getting a lot of people down to see the tunnel but it tends to be older people. It’s such a wonderful place and we wanted to tell its story with a modern voice.
“We always had 12 artists in mind because only 12 people can go down the tunnel at any one time. With a site like that people were really keen to get involved.
“Shepard Fairey is one of the most celebrated artists on the planet at the minute because of the Obama poster.
“We’d done a show with an artist from San Francisco who knew him and he put us in touch. There were emails back and forth and it turned out he knew Newcastle because of the Spank the Monkey show at the Baltic a few years ago. It’s great to have him involved.”
The Victoria Tunnel is a subterranean wagonway that was built between 1839-42 to transport coal from Leazes Main Colliery in Spital Tongues to riverside staithes ready for loading onto boats for export.
The colliery closed in January 1860 and the tunnel was abandoned until the start of the Second World War when it was converted for use as an air raid shelter.
The Ouseburn Trust runs regular tours of the Tunnel, which has featured on a number of TV shows.
As well as Shepard Fairey, the Into the Dark event will feature work from Australian artists Meggs and Stormie Mills, German Hendrik Beikirch, who is known for huge spray-painted murals, plus local artists Hush and Candice Tripp.
Candice, a South African-born painter who has lived in Newcastle for the past seven years, said: “It’s an exciting challenge to be able to produce something that will work with the tunnel, as opposed to just existing within it.
“I had been living in Newcastle for four years before I found out that the Victoria Tunnel existed. I’m glad I waited, although I can’t say why I did!”