For over 30 years, one of the railway arches in Waterloo was used as a studio by one of the country’s leading artists, Feliks Topolski, and now it’s opening up for public tours.
Born in Poland, Feliks Topolski moved to the UK in 1935, became an official war artist for the British military during WWII and later won a number of notable commissions, including for the United Nations and the Festival of Britain. He also drew the staff working at the Bank of England’s banknote printing press in 1957, which were later displayed in the bank’s museum, if never in the bank itself.
As it happens, his artist’s studio used to be open on Friday afternoons while Topolski was alive and working there, and would open it up to anyone to wander in for a chat and coffee, but these days, it’s mainly an archive store for his work.
And now, on Saturdays, it will be opening again for the public to visit.
The tours are led by the artist’s grandson, who has extensive knowledge of the work and provides interesting anecdotes and background information.
The tours cost £11.55 per person and need to be booked in advance from here.
The tours take place in the railway arch, which is underneath the railway running between Charing Cross and Waterloo East. You can find the studio on the South Bank Centre access road, which on the other side of the railway from the Southbank Centre.
Away from the tours, the Studio aims to function as a study centre, actively archiving and digitising its large collection of graphic works, whilst also providing a space for contemporary artists, historians and the curious to engage with the rich tradition of reportage.