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Brixton Blue

Art on the Underground have commissioned Grenada-born, British artist Denzil Forrester to create a large-scale public artwork launching on 19 September 2019 and on view until September 2020.

Forrester is the third commission in a new series at Brixton, following on from Njideka Akunyili Crosby in 2018 and Aliza Nisenbaum in 2019. The programme selects artists to respond to the diverse narratives of the murals from the 1980s, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.

For his first major UK public commission, Forrester will reinterpret his seminal work Three Wicked Men (1982), now in the collection of Tate, London, into an immersive, large-scale painting. Made during his time at the Royal College of Art, Forrester has returned to Three Wicked Men several times over the decades. The title was borrowed from a track by Reggae George, released a year earlier, in which Forrester identifies the three men as a policeman, a politician and a businessman. In Forrester’s painted versions, the latter figure is often replaced by a Rasta. Reflective of the contemporary black experience and the racial tensions of the time, the painting features Winston Rose; a friend of Forrester’s who died whilst under police restraint in 1981 and which would continue to haunt many of his paintings for the next decade.

You are deeper than what you think

‘You are deeper than what you think’ by Laure Prouvost is the artist’s first public commission in the UK, an ambitious city-wide series of posters infiltrating advertising sites across all 270 London Underground stations.

Prouvost has created posters in print, for digital screens and the cover of six million pocket Tube maps as well as major installations at Heathrow and Stratford stations that bookend the project from east to west London. In these sites the artist draws on her own tradition of sign-painting alongside London Underground’s early history of wayfinding and graphic design, where signs were produced by hand. Each poster is a digital reproduction of a hand-painted sign complete with a sentence devised specifically for the Underground in its iconic Johnston typeface, with corporate logos painted too.

Synonymous with Prouvost’s distinctly playful and poetic voice where English is her second language, the crux of the project begins with the poster ‘you are deeper than what you think’, an interplay between the literal place the work will be encountered and a reminder that there is more inside all of us than we might initially feel. Further works include ‘oh stay with us the party has just begun’ that fills the atrium at Heathrow station and ‘ideally these words would pause everything now’ a 20 metre sign at Stratford station that directly addresses the millions of passengers who commute through Stratford station each day.

Broadway House

55 Broadway is the historic headquarters of London Underground, built between 1927 and 1929, and encompassing St. James’s Park station. The building features a series of sculptures on the facade by leading artists of the day.

The design of the building by Modernist architect Charles Holden was cross shaped in plan, with wings at the north, south, east and west. Eight sculptures at high level are intended to reference the ancient Greek Tower of the Winds in Athens, with two carved reliefs for each wind by Wyon, Gerrard, Gill, Aumonier, Rabinovitch and Moore, in his first public commission.

A smaller version of Gill’s ‘North Wind’ is now part of Tate’s collection, on display at Tate Britain.

Two further sculptures sit just above street level on Broadway – ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ by Epstein. They were considered deeply avant-garde in 1929 and were heavily criticised in the media for being indecent. Epstein is a pivotal figure in Modernist sculpture, and his approach at 55 Broadway, carving directly into the facade and taking inspiration from ‘primitive’ art, was widely embraced throughout the later twentieth century.

London Underground: Brixton Station and Victoria Line Staff

The second in a new series of commissions for Brixton Underground station, Art on the Underground present a large-scale public artwork by Mexican-born and New York-based artist Aliza Nisenbaum, launching on 10 April 2019 and on view until 16 September 2019.

The work is the first public UK commission by Nisenbaum who has used the Brixton murals from the 1980s as inspiration. As we approach the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union, a defining moment for the UK against a backdrop of worldwide geopolitical change, this new commission forms part of Art on the Underground’s 2019 programme which looks at the role artists can play in drawing out ideas of future utopias of togetherness and belonging.

Influenced by the Mexican mural movement and its depiction of social history, Nisenbaum’s work probes the politics of representation by bringing overlooked groups of people together in exquisitely painted portraits. She continues this practice for her new commission where she has been artist-in-residence, living and working in Brixton for three months. Through an open call, Nisenbaum has selected 15 people working on the Transport for London network across the Victoria line – including train drivers, operational staff, to those working in facilities and administration – who over several hours, were individually painted in her studio to create a large-scale group portrait specifically for the entrance of Brixton Underground station.

2019 Programme Announcement - On Edge

Art on the Underground’s programme for 2019 will comprise of major new works from internationally renowned artists. As we approach the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union and edge towards an uncertain future, the 2019 programme will explore what it means to be ‘on edge’, individually, collectively, politically and socially. The 2019 programme will look at the role artists can play in developing utopian ideas of togetherness and belonging.

Bringing leading international artists to London, Art on the Underground’s programme discusses the emotional weight of longing and belonging to the city as it crosses this edge. Major commissions situated across London include:

  • For her first UK public commission, Aliza Nisenbaum will be in residence at Brixton station for two months, painting Transport for London staff.
  • Laure Prouvost will create her first public commission in the UK, an ambitious city-wide series of signs and slogans, infiltrating all 270 London Underground stations and seen by millions of people each day.
  • Denzil Forrester will reinterpret his seminal painting ‘Three Wicked Men’ from 1982 for his first public commission in over three decades.
  • Larry Achiampong will re-imagine London Underground’s iconic logo, the Roundel, in a configuration of his ongoing series, the ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE’.
  • Nina Wakeford will present her two-year research project alongside the new Northern Line Extension programme in South London.
  • For the Pocket Tube map, Bedwyr Williams will create one of his iconic drawings which merge art and life with a comedic twist.

 

‘Edges involve extremes. Edges are borders. Edges are very much about identity, about who you are … Who are you?’Ali Smith, ‘On Edge’, Artful, Hamish Hamilton, 2012

Brixton Mural Map

Murals are indicators of both place and time. During the 1970s and 80s, London became an important centre for mural production. Murals from this period represent the political climate, social context and communities who collaboratively made them. These qualities define the murals that populate Brixton today. However, as London is further developed, many murals are being damaged or destroyed. The surviving murals reveal the rapid change London has undergone in the past few decades, but they have not received the same recognition, protection and conservation as other public artworks or heritage sites in the city. This Mural Map shares the stories behind Brixton’s murals and makes these overlooked public artworks more visible.

Brixton Schools Mural Design Project

From 2018-20 Art on the Underground has commissioned contemporary artists to create new artworks in response to the Brixton murals. These works explore commemoration, collective memory and the wider history of mural making, and will be on display at the Brixton Underground station entrance.

 

As part of this programme Art on the Underground has worked with artist Meera Chauda and six local primary schools to create artworks inspired by the Brixton murals. Each school has designed their own artwork, using drawing and collage, in response to the themes in the original murals. The schools visited specific murals which influenced them to think about what they wanted to celebrate and commemorate about their local area. The designs on display show the pupils’ responses, they are created from tessellated shapes, reminiscent of the London Underground tiles, which reflect each school’s symbol and colours.

 

The Bower of Bliss

Art on the Underground present a major public commission by British artist Linder at Southwark station, on view until October 2019.

The work, the first large-scale public commission by Linder in London, consists of an 85 metre long street-level billboard at Southwark station and a cover commission for the 29th edition of the pocket Tube map.

Linder has spent four months as artist-in-residence, carefully researching and mapping a vertical history of Southwark. The artist’s starting point begins in the belly of the architecture at Southwark station. Designed by Richard McCormack and opened in 1999, the station was inspired  in part by the 18th Century notion of the English landscape garden and sought to create a place of peace and tranquility, a refuge from urban life. Further research draws on local collections including Southwark Council’s Cuming Museum Collection, the London Transport Museum Collection, and Transport for London’s lost property office as source material for an ambitious photomontage that will wrap the entire station façade at Southwark station.

my name is lettie eggsyrub

Art on the Underground present a major new commission by British artist Heather Phillipson for the disused platform at Gloucester Road Underground station. my name is lettie eggsyrub, Phillipson’s first public commission in the U.K, will fill the 80m platform at the station and be on view for one year.

London-based Phillipson works in video, sculpture, online media, music, drawing, poetry and what she calls walk-in collages. Relationships between human and non-human animals are a recurring theme in her work and for this commission she focusses on the egg as an object of reproduction, subject to human interference. In her space-filling sculptural and video installation for Gloucester Road’s disused platform, Phillipson will use video game-style layout techniques to magnify eggs and avian body-parts to monstrous proportions.

Pimlico Tiles

The construction of the Victoria line began in the early 1960s, with a uniform clean design for each station. Individual character is brought into stations by a unique tile design sitting behind benches on the platforms. At Pimlico station, it was decided that a contemporary artist would be appropriate to link the station to the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain), just a few minutes walk away. Peter Sedgley was chosen. In the 1960s, Sedgley was developing his ‘op-art’ style of work, optically confusing artworks that challenge your perceptions. He based his design at Pimlico on his painting ‘Go’ of 1968. Many of Sedgley’s works can be found in Tate’s collection. Other bench recess designs along the Victoria line feature work by designers and graphic artists Abram Games, Edward Bawden, Hans Unger, Alan Fletcher, Tom Eckersley, George Smith and Julia Black.