World painting-by-numbers record smashed by Herne Hill pupils and movie star Mark Rylance

A contingent of 2332 kids from eight schools and residents have banded together to create a new world record for the world’s most contributions to a colour by numbers.
Previous record holders in Mexico achieved 1,119 participants across three days just beore this attempt – but Herne Hill kids and residents doubled this to 2,332 in just two days last week.
Herne Hill’s long, dark and grotty underpass between Station Square and Milkwood Road will be transformed in the coming weeks as the resulting painting is put in place.
Herne Hill Forum commissioned local artist Victor Szepessy to create a design for the 40 metre long mural, which brought to life the spirit of Herne Hill, it’s community, key people, places fables and myths.
Nobel Prize Benny Dembitzinger and the Herne Hill train crash of 1957 are among the local people and events marked in the mural.
It was coloured in on Wednesday and Thursday of last week by pupils 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.
They contributed a total of 1,161 primary school kids and 1,171 local residents did the rest to set a huge new world record.
The event was an epic effort from across the community, with everyone involved making this a day to remember – with kids from as young as four years old, people with a range of disabilities, climbing stairs to get access to the building, and volunteers working 24/7 to deliver the project on time.
The mayors of Lambeth and Southwark, Southeastern Rail’s managing director David Statham, Cllrs Jim Dickson and Becca Thackray all turned up to support with their own artistic efforts.
It was made possible with funding, resources and support from Aviva, Southeastern, Network Rail, Lambeth Council and local businesses.

Mark Rylance, movie star and local resident said: “I regularly use this underpass – what was once a very unattractive space, will now be transformed.  It’s great that this space can be celebrated and has been decorated especially by the children.”

Project manager Lucy Reynolds of Herne Hill Forum said: “We are so excited that we believe we have broken the Guinness World Record.   The event has been a massive community led project that has brought together everyone, to transform our underpass into a space that is beautiful, right at the heart of the Herne Hill community.  And we all came together to make it happen, with queues of local kids, and residents forming in our station square to all add their colouring in skills to this beautiful work of art. The support we had was a true inspiration and reflection of the spirit of this community. 1,161 primary school children and a further 1,171 local residents, along with contributions from Cat & Hutch who entertained the children, to local volunteers, local politicians, businesses and our very own Town Crier, James Castle from the Society for the Protection of Unwanted Objects .”

Illustrator and muralist Victor Szepessy said: “The mural is of its time, bringing together the fad for colouring in, street art, and utilising social media to get everyone involved.  It’s a living piece of art, reflecting Herne Hill residents’ knowledge of what makes the place unique, key buildings, the local Brockwell Park, as well as its history, and all the people that make this community including historical figures and local celebrities.  I have been overwhelmed with the number of people who have pitched into make this happen, from those that have painted, to the volunteers who have helped organise today’s event. The mural is a reflection of this community spirit – Herne Hill brings the country “shire” into London.”

The new 40 metre mural will be placed on the wall that runs the whole length of the “piano” side of the underpass.  Over 6,000 colour by number sections were completed over the two days, by the Herne Hill local community. The mural has been created on parachute fabric, which will then be pasted into place once completed, before being covered with anti-graffiti varnish.


Herne Hill underpass, was a dark and gloomy extensively used passageway providing a vital link between local shops, businesses, transport hubs and public spaces, and the mural is just one element of a big and ambitious transformation programme. Renovations have already commenced, with Southeastern investing in new strip lighting, removing anti-graffiti panelling, and providing a new lick of paint. The station side of the pass will also undergo a facelift, with new gallery space allowing the local community to display artwork, exhibitions and local information.


The event was held in the previously unused space above the station.  The residents were wowed to see this hidden space for the first time. Today launches a wider regeneration programme in Herne Hill, which is intended to culminate in the renovation of the space above the station.  Currently the room above the station is mothballed and inaccessible. However, Herne Hill Forum is working with South Eastern to plan how they can develop the space as a new town hall and community centre for Herne Hill.  One of our first priorities will be to raise funding for installation of lift access to ensure that this space is fully accessible to the whole community. The Forum are exploring ways to raise funds for the new space, including a bid to the GLA Good Growth Fund.

“The space above the station 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,”  said Lucy Reynolds, Project Manager, Herne Hill Forum.

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