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Our Pink Depot: The Gay Underground FLO-N202-236000000-TRK-MST-00002-SAY-HELLO-WAVE-GOODBYE-KEN-NIE-BPS

Thursday 28th November 2019

Book launch and Performance

18:30 – 20:00 | Performance 19:00

Matt’s Gallery, London, 42-44 Pontoon Road, Nine Elms, SW8 5BA

Free – booking essential

Book tickets here.

Developing Art on the Underground’s activity around the new Northern Line Extension (NLE) in South London, and in the context of the new stations at Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station, Nina Wakeford presents a series of artworks which reflect time spent alongside the tunnel engineers, rail laying teams and miners currently building the line, the history of the area around Vauxhall and Nine Elms, and also the discovery of informal ‘pink depots’ on the Underground in the 1970s and 1980s, most notably at Parsons Green station. In the 50th anniversary year of the riots at the Stonewall Inn, Wakeford presents interventions which reach from Kennington to Battersea stations.

Launching on 28 November 2019 ‘Our Pink Depot: The Gay Underground FLO-N202-236000000-TRK-MST-00002-SAY-HELLO-WAVE-GOODBYE-KEN-NIE-BPS’, published in collaboration with Book Works, proposes the whole of the new tunnels, which join the current line at Kennington station, as a ‘pink depot’ for London Underground. The book is a collection of annotated accounts derived from conversations with those working on the NLE, around which are gathered stories from LGBT staff who will operate the new line, and those who frequented the Market Tavern, a pub formerly located at 1 Nine Elms Lane. The Market Tavern was intended to serve for Flower Market traders and porters but by the late 1970s also became a venue for LGBT clubbing. Memories of both populations are gathered in the book, which also includes photographs found in drivers’ and DJs’ personal collections and the Covent Garden Market Authority archive.

With thanks to Arts Council England, Book Works and Matt’s Gallery, London.

‘PAN AFRICAN FLAGS FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE’ 2019

Art on the Underground presents an ambitious public commission by British Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong, which re-imagines London Underground’s iconic roundel, for Westminster Underground station. The commission will be on view until February 2020.

As part of the artist’s on-going multi-disciplinary and multi-site project ‘Relic Traveller’, Achiampong will interrupt the traditional red and blue logo that since 1908 has been synonymous with the Underground and London. The commission seeks to consider the possibilities of alternate histories and forms part of Art on the Underground’s 2019 programme which looks at the role artists can play in forming ideas of togetherness and belonging.

For this commission, the artist was invited to re-imagine the logo’s design. Achiampong has chosen to focus on Pan African colours that speak symbolically to various African diasporic identities: green, black, and red, which reflect the land, the people and the struggles the continent has endured, while gold represents a new day and prosperity. Eight new designs of the roundel will be installed in seventy sites throughout Westminster Underground station.

Based in science fiction and traditional Adinkra symbolism, Achiampong’s roundel redesign builds on the artist’s concept of sanko-time, a theory at the core of his recent practice. Sanko-time is based in the Ashanti word “sanfoka”, which roughly translated, means to go back for what has been left behind. “Sankofa” also alludes to using the past to prepare for the future; the wish of being able to go back to an immutable point to make sure that what has been lost is not lost any longer. The project, as a result, opens narratives regarding African mythologies and their relationship to science fiction.

Achiampong’s work with Art on the Underground provides an opportunity to explore imaginations and a sense of connectedness between the African diaspora, and to reconsider their often forgotten or erased contributions to the city.

 

Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset

Art on the Underground have commissioned artist Alexandre da Cunha to create a permanent artwork for the Northern Line Extension. Da Cunha’s work will be installed at the new Underground station at Battersea Power Station, due to open in autumn 2021.

‘Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset’ is a monumental kinetic sculpture reflecting on daily cycles. Da Cunha uses an outdated advertising mechanism – the rotating billboard – to create two friezes which will face each other along the length of the ticket hall. Inspired by the former control room at Battersea Power Station and its system of vertical bars that regulated the production and output of electricity into the city, the works refers to cycles, routine, the everyday and eternity.

Stretching to nearly 100m in length, the friezes will consist of three faces of a different colour, gradually fading from one colour to another over the length of the entire image. The colours have been extracted from photos of London sunsets and sunrises. Throughout the course of the day, the panels will rotate, presenting different combinations of colours into the ticket hall.

The three words of the title refer to the three faces of the vertical panels, their cyclical rotation and repetition. With over 3,500 individual panels, ‘Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset’ will create an ever-changing environment within the station.

Brixton Blue

Art on the Underground commissioned Grenada-born, British artist Denzil Forrester to create a large-scale public artwork for Brixton station, on view from 19 September 2019 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 has reinterpreted 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.