Posted by - 03 March 2010 - No comments

Banksy's Secret Cinema - Lambeth Palace

The Leake Street Tunnel
The very nature of  pop-up is that it's a guerrilla tactic.   However, in the last couple of years, with all manner of brands jumping on the phenomenon, it's been down graded as a term to just describe a temporary venue.   In word it's become the very essence of what its meant to be reacting against.  So, like all things that go mainstream, it's become oh so predictable.

Entrance to The Lambeth Palace
However, ever so often, something comes along that creates excitement and intrigue.  The Lambeth Palace, is the name of the pop-up cinema Banksy has created to showcase his debut film Exit Through The Gift Shop.   Described by Time Out as London's "newest, darkest and dirtiest" cinema, is cleverly hidden under an intersection of Waterloo Train Station called The Leake Street Tunnel, home to London's street artists.

If we hadn't booked tickets for the film, we wouldn't have  known it was there.  There's no sign to tell you where the cinema is and it's not visible from the street. Indeed, walking through a dark and deserted car park having been dropped off by a clueless cabbie, no where near The Tunnel, I did wonder whether we'd ever find it.  Even the parking attendant working at the car park adjacent to the cinema had no idea it even existed.

It's all very cloak and dagger.  When you arrive a doorman checks your name on a clipboard, and asks to see the credit card you paid with to purchased your tickets, once inside you have to repeat the process again to get your tickets.

If you can get pass the doorman, you'll find a bonfire with  master canvases burning brightly on one side of the room, illuminating the damp and grim space and other works by Banksy including a lion statue holding a microphone in its mouth, a play on the MGM studio mascot.    There's also a mural of the Queen and Prince Phillip unveiling an 'A' for anarchy which has been painted on the wall.  

Viewing the film in the flea pet-esque cinema is an experience I'll never forget.  Not only do you hear the trains coming and going from Waterloo station, you can feel them too.    Its wonderfully atmospheric. 

If you haven't been lucky enough to get tickets to the preview of Exit Through The Gift Shop, it's out in the cinema's this weekend.  And if you haven't been to The Tunnel, do go.  It's a must for all fans of street art. 
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