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C215 Street Art (Slave Island)

Slave Island (Colombo 2)

Check out the amazeballs portrait-graffiti in Slave Island by French artist C215.

So a lot of people have been talking about the beautiful work on the walls of Slave Island, by French artist C215. I personally found out first on StreetArtNews. We thought we'd head down to Slave Island and check it out ourselves. Here's the low-down on it if you plan on doing the same.

The Art

IMG_8961 Ramzi next to his C215 portrait

C215 is Christian Guemy from Paris. He's well known for his graffiti or wall art which has been plastered on the walls of India, Brazil, Jamaica and Ireland to name a few. He came to Sri Lanka in September 2014 and made his mark on Colombo 2, literally.

IMG_8911 On Vauxhall Street

Most of the pictures we saw were portraits of people who live in this area, while we also saw images of an elephant, a cat and a goat. You won't see these images on the main road by the way - they are snug inside little alley ways and inside the homes of crowded neighborhoods.

IMG_8908 On Dawson Street

How does stencil graffiti work? In this case, you take a photograph of a person, print it out and make a stencil out of it - over which you apply spray paint.

IMG_8946 A tuk-tuk on Vauxhall Street

The best way to find these images is by befriending the people who live here. Suranga, Ramzi and Nethmi (the girl in the picture above) showed me around the neighborhood, took me into their friends' homes, and pointed me in the right direction. They were super friendly and Nethmi was the most insistent, interviewing me about my intentions and asking me to take photographs of her friends.

IMG_8906 On Dawson Street

IMG_8955 On Vauxhall Street

IMG_8924 Inside a home on Vauxhall Street

IMG_8954 On Vauxhall Street


We've been told that there are three main zones in Slave Island where you can find C215's stencil art. We wandered around randomly, looking for the stuff and found plenty of it, though we're not sure we covered it all - let us know if you found other spots.

stencil map 3 Slave Island's C215 zones

1. The end of Dawson Street. Heading here, just before meeting Vauxhall Street, you'll catch the colourful lines of the portraits of an old lady and a little girl on opposite walls, on your right.

2. This is a neighborhood on Vauxhall Street. Step down off the road and you'll see a colourful image of a little girl on the wall - and if you make friends with the neighbors here they'll take you all throughout their homes and their private alleys to show you amazing portraits against colourful walls. Watch out for the elephant and the goat here.

3. This is a line of tuk-tuks on Vauxhall Street. They were parked here and you get some cool stencil art on them, of portraits and a baboon.


4. New Ferry Lane. Also known as 'Nava Lane', it's the lane on your left, right after you pass Rio Cinema. You'll find the stencil of a giant kitty head here against a teal wall, very easy to miss and definitely one of my favourites. Big shout out to our friend A Life Of Satudays for guiding us to the C215 kitty!


You will literally be entering people's homes and gardens to find most of these pictures. The art speaks for itself.


IMG_8934 His mother wanted me to take a picture of him dancing

We think C215's work here is pretty epic. The concept is obvious and ingenious - his art in the heart of these Slave Island neighborhoods forced me to get to know the people who live here and figure the stories behind the stencil portraits. The images on the walls are quite beautiful on their own and the people you meet along the way even more so - definitely worth the trip.


Knowing Sinhala or Tamil helps. Also these are people's private spaces so be respectful and don't take a big crowd with you.


Slave Island (Colombo 2)


Start at Dawson Street. You can get here from the main street Sir James Pieiris Mawatha where you get Nawaloka Hospital.

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