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Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence 2022

Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence 2022.

Through My Scars is the first release from the Art on the Underground Writer in Residence Ayesha Kundi. Inspired by the permanent artwork for Westminster station by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong, titled ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE (UNION)‘, 2022.

The Art on the Underground Writer in Residence 2022 is a brand-new opportunity for a TfL staff member to develop their writing by working with Art on the Underground.

The Writer in Residence programme will highlight and amplify the creative voices within TfL, creating engaging responses to Art on the Underground artists and artworks throughout 2022.

 

Through my Scars

My limit is the sky
Filled with stars
And stairways
Unending whirls
And the colour yellow

I speak of joy
Through my scars
As I shed my golden cape
Vulnerable
Unarmed
Unsure

I walk through the sacrifices
Made by my fathers
And their fathers
On the streets I now call home

Wearing on my shoulders
The weight
And the pride
All in one
As I slowly stride on

My mothers and sisters
My daughters and children
Make merry and joy
On a land filled in riches
Cladded
Folded
Covered
In adinkra

Long live the joys
Long live the peace

 

-Ayesha Kundi, 2022

 

 

 

Black Blossoms x Art on the Underground Course II: Black to the Future: Afr0-Futurism as Archival Practice

Black to the Future: Afr0-Futurism as Archival Practice, is a four-week course taught by Janine Francois that responds to Larry Achiampong’s 2022 Art on the Underground commission, ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAGS FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE (UNION)’ which re-imagines London Underground’s iconic roundel, for Westminster Underground station. The course will consider how identity and Black nation-making are formed by exploring the concepts of Afr0-Futurism and Pan Africanism respectively. Participants will learn about the conceptual and aesthetic practice of Black artists, thinkers and multi-disciplinary practitioners whose ideas of Pan Africanism, speculative fiction, and space and time travel not only critiqued racial oppression but re-imagined equitable societies.

Start date: Tuesday 13 September 2022

Duration: 4 weeks (every Tuesday until 4 October 2022)

Time: 6.30-7:45pm

Free. Online. Book here

Courses are delivered live on Zoom and to create an interactive teaching environment, learning material will be provided to registered participants prior to each class. Participants will also be able to access the learning platform which includes the recordings of the live lectures and learning material for 90 days after the last live class. The course will then be archived on this website.

For full information on the weekly sessions and to access learning material, please visit Black Blossoms’ website here.

Educator: Janine Francois

Janine Francois is a Black British Feminist, Critic and Writer known for their insightful, critical, but piercing perspectives on race and social justice.  Janine’s practices deconstruct whiteness (and race) within cultural and academic institutions through writing, curating/ producing, research, teaching and consultancy.

Janine is also a PhD candidate at the University of Bedfordshire/ Tate, exploring if Tate can be a safer space to discuss issues of race and cultural differences within a teaching and learning context?

Janine’s research is set to complete in December 2023 and is funded by Arts Humanities Research Council. Janine is also 1 of 30 Black Caribbean students funded by AHRC during the periods 2016-to 2019.

Janine’s pronouns are: [they/them/theirs]

Art on the Underground Writer in Residence

The Art on the Underground Writer in Residence 2022 is a brand-new opportunity for a TfL staff member to develop their writing by working with Art on the Underground.

The Writer in Residence programme will highlight and amplify the creative voices within TfL, creating engaging responses to Art on the Underground artists and artworks throughout 2022.

Our first writer is Ayesha Kundi, Customer Service Assistant. Ayesha will produce three written responses to the 2022 Art on the Underground programme.

Ayesha said: “Writing has been a huge part of my life. I am a deeply sensitive person; my writings portray my personal experiences and inspiration from those around me. I think the Staff Writer in Residence programme is an amazing opportunity to explore one’s ability. We have so many people working for LU with various backgrounds. Opportunities like this are fun and take your mind away from the monotonous routine. I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that I was onboard!”

Uncommon Observations: The Ground that Moves Us

Uncommon Observations: The Ground that Moves Us is an ambitious multi-site artwork by London based artist Rhea Storr. The artwork will launch on 22 July 2022 and remain on view for a year.

This new body of work, presented as a series of large-scale captioned photographs, will be exhibited in four London Underground stations across the capital; Stratford, Bethnal Green, Notting Hill Gate and Heathrow Terminal 4.

Central to Rhea Storr’s photographic and film work is her writing and research around the production and circulation of images of Black subjects. This research asks how can an image share knowledge? How might it be a call to come together as a community? How can an image challenge or confront its audience? Can it be a projection of joy and liberation? These questions form the starting point for the six new sequences of photographic artworks for London Underground.

The new work was created using an outdated military surveillance photographic film called aerochrome, once used for monitoring and control and now used with experimental openness. This film turns reflections of infra-red light into vivid shades of red and pink and in contrast centres bodies, drawing focus to human movement. The images were produced during a photoshoot with artist Jade Blackstock and staged in spaces of common land across London.

The photoshoot played with who is looking at who, who is visible and who is in control of the image capture. The movements documented in the images shift between being directed, playful and liberatory. Concerned with the readability of images, particularly those of Black and mixed-race women, Storr’s Art on the Underground commission extends this and proposes that bodies, specifically Black bodies, are not fixed, but instead constantly moving, from being observed and admired to moving to evade or refuse monitoring.

Running parallel to the photoshoot, Storr conducted a series of research conversations with London Underground station staff to gain further understanding of their work in stations. These conversations focussed on their movement and visibility in stations, asking what they notice about people? What aspects of travelling are hidden? How does race, visibility or dress affect the way that they or the people they observe move around the Underground?  These conversations informed the artist’s writing process, producing captions for the images. Written in the artist’s voice the captions, with the images, read like stills from a film. As viewers move past these static photographs in stations, along passageways, escalators and through ticket halls, they will experience the artworks as if in motion, catching sequences of Storr’s words and photographs almost as moving images and messages.

Exhibiting these works in public space is key to how we receive their meaning. We encounter these images between information notices, advertising, images for consumption and direction, where our movements are choreographed by the station’s design. This artwork asks if it is possible to re-narrate or revise our experiences, as passengers, members of the public, workers, communities, and individuals, in constant movement and under observation.

BLACK BLOSSOMS SCHOOL OF ART AND CULTURE x ART ON THE UNDERGROUND

Art on the Underground is delighted to announce a new series of free online short courses curated and delivered with Black Blossoms School of Art & Culture.

The courses will expand on the ideas explored in the artworks and practices of the artists working with Art on the Underground throughout 2022, these include Joy Labinjo, Larry Achiampong, Rhea Storr and Shanti Panchal.

For more information on the series of courses please visit Black Blossoms’ website here.

Each course will run for four weeks and be led by a lecturer who will devise an engaging curriculum that includes an artist talk and a guest lecture. For each session, participants will be asked to engage with learning material that they can read, watch or listen too.

All sessions will be recorded and uploaded online, available to re-watch.

All sessions will be free and open to all. 

 

Course 1 

Art and Activism in the Age of Black Girl Magic – Joy Labinjo 

Start Date: Tuesday 12 July 2022
Duration: 4 weeks (every Tuesday until 2 August 2022)
Time: 6.30-7:45pm

Free. Online. Book here.

The first course, Art and Activism in the Age of Black Girl Magic, will run once a week, every Tuesday evening for four weeks, 12 July – 2 August 2022.

Art and Activism in the Age of Black Girl Magic will expand on the themes present in Joy Labinjo’s large-scale Art on the Underground commission, ‘5 more minutes’ which launched at Brixton Underground station in November 2021, her 36th pocket Tube map cover,  ‘Twist Out’ which launched in May 2022, and in dialogue with other modern and contemporary artworks by Black women and Black non-binary artists. The course examines the themes present in modern and contemporary artworks by Black women and Black non-binary artists. Their contributions to visual artistic production are further explored through the lens of Black feminist thought and action in social and protest movements in contemporary history. Bolanle Tajudeen, the founder of Black Blossoms will lead this course.

An iteration of Art in the Age of Black Girl Magic has previously been taught at Tate (2018 & 2019) and Photographers Gallery (2020).

Courses are delivered live on Zoom and to create an interactive teaching environment, learning material will be provided to registered participants prior to each class. Participants will also be able to access the learning platform which includes the recordings of the live lectures and learning material for 90 days after the last live class. The course will then be archived on this website.

For full information on the weekly sessions please visit Black Blossoms’ website here.

Educator: Bolanle Tajudeen

Bolanle Tajudeen (she/her) is the founder of Black Blossoms – an expanded curatorial platform showcasing contemporary Black women and non-binary artists since 2015. In 2020 Bolanle launched the Black Blossoms School of Art and Culture, an online learning platform decolonizing art education.

Twist Out

Art on the Underground are pleased to present the 36th commission for the pocket Tube map cover by London-based artist Joy Labinjo.

Titled Twist Out, the artwork accompanies Labinjo’s large-scale commission, 5 more minutes currently on view at Brixton Underground station. This new map marks the launch of London’s Elizabeth line which opened on Tuesday 24 May.

Labinjo’s artwork for the pocket Tube map cover depicts an intimate shared routine between a mother and daughter. A mother combs and divides sections of her daughter’s hair in preparation for a ‘twist out’ hairstyle. The scene draws on Labinjo’s experiences as a British-Nigerian woman and her memories of having her hair styled by her mother as a child.

Throughout her practice, Joy Labinjo often uses the power of storytelling to connect the figures in her work with broader themes. In this case, she asks us to consider how we are shaped by the quiet domestic routines that we share with family as much as by life’s larger events.

Labinjo created her original artwork using pastel on paper in her signature style of bold and sculptural strokes that are tinged with the warmth of personal recollection. The artist’s subtle humour animates the work – a shimmer of boredom is captured in the sideways glance of the girl, as she perhaps imagines where she would rather be.

Twist Out also links to the themes of community and belonging that are present in 5 more minutes, Labinjo’s commission for Brixton station, which depicts the imagined interior of a Black hair salon. In her portrayals of everyday private and public rituals around hair, Labinjo reflects on the experience of Black women and celebrates the visibility of Black female culture.

Hair and hairstyling have long been an important part of Black female history, as a positive expression of identity and culture but also as a conduit for racial discrimination and oppression. The ‘twist out’ hairstyle is notable as a style that transitions to a more natural look, away from using chemicals to relax and straighten Black hair, in adherence to Eurocentric beauty standards. In her exploration of hair as a subject matter, Joy Labinjo invites the viewer to consider the fullness of the Black female experience.

Joy Labinjo’s May 2022 Tube Map cover and large-scale public commission at Brixton Underground station coincided with two presentations of her new work, ‘Ode to Olaudah Equiano’ at Chapter Gallery Cardiff, UK (25 March – 3 July 2022) and ‘Full Ground’ at Tiwani Contemporary, Lagos, Nigeria (25 February – 7 May 2022).

Joy Labinjo’s large-scale figurative paintings often depict intimate scenes of historical and contemporary life, both real and imagined. She uses sources including family photographs, found images and historical material. Her work connects to broad themes around history, identity, political voice, power, Blackness and race, and also relate to personal experiences of community and family.

No Title

Richard Wright’s delicate and elusive artwork on the vast ceiling at the western ticket hall of the Elizabeth line station at Tottenham Court Road features an intricate, geometric gold-leaf pattern, hand gilded by the artist and a team of assistants.

“Gold has the immaterial quality of being absent and present at the same time. It appears and disappears, it is almost not there at all.” – Richard Wright

For more information please visit: https://www.crossrail.co.uk/benefits/art-on-crossrail/artwork-at-tottenham-court-road

Commissioned in 2018 as part of The Crossrail Art Foundation’s public art programme for the Elizabeth line with the support of Gagosian Gallery.

A Cloud Index

A Cloud Index is the integral artwork within the 120 meters long and 18 meters wide glazed station canopy at the Elizabeth line station at Paddington. The artwork features 32 different types of clouds drawn in pastel by the artist and printed onto the glass panels, creating a picture of the sky in the tradition of English landscape paintings by Constable and Turner.

“The artwork exists both as an artificial cloudscape and as a homage to the British obsession with categorizing and systematizing the most fugitive of natural phenomena. Since Luke Howard first created a nomenclature for clouds in 1803, the efforts to comprehend and quantify clouds have been both beautiful and quixotic, and clouds always seem to stay one step ahead of human understanding.” – Spencer Finch

For more information please visit: https://www.crossrail.co.uk/benefits/art-on-crossrail/artwork-at-paddington

Commissioned in 2016 as part of The Crossrail Art Foundation’s public art programme for the Elizabeth line with the support of Lisson Gallery.

 

PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS' ALLIANCE (UNION)

Art on the Underground are pleased to present a new permanent commission for Westminster station by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong.

Achiampong’s artwork re-imagines the iconic London Underground roundel logo which for more than 100 years has been both a navigation tool and an instantly recognisable symbol for London. Achiampong’s new version replaces the traditional red and blue design with Pan African colours that speak symbolically to African diasporic identities while also acknowledging their contributions and presence in London. Green, black and red reflect the land, the people and the struggles the African continent has endured, while yellow-gold represents a new day and prosperity. He incorporates 54 stars arranged around the edge of the roundel, representing each of the 54 countries of the African continent joined in union.

Achiampong first re-imagined the London Underground roundel in 2019 as part of a temporary commission for Westminster Underground station, ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAGS FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLER’S ALLIANCE’ 2019. Eight new designs were displayed across seventy sites throughout the station. The new roundel will remain permanently installed above the main entrance to the station on Westminster Bridge Road, enlarged and rendered in vibrant vitreous enamel and painted metal colours.

In developing his project, Achiampong was inspired by Adinkra, a Ghanaian system of symbols created by the Akan people and used in textile designs, logos and pottery or incorporated into architectural features. The symbols convey short concepts and proverbs that relate to everyday life and the environment. The roundel also relates to the artist’s concept of ‘Sanko-time’, based in the Ashanti word ‘Sankofa’, which roughly translated means ‘Go back and retrieve’. Achiampong combines these ideas and images from West-African traditions with his broader interest in science fiction and time travel through the unearthing of hidden stories.

Earlier in 2022 Achimapong presented the 35th commission for the cover of London Underground’s pocket Tube map, titled ‘What I Hear I Keep’ and featuring a bold star and chevron design using the Pan African colours. Achiampong explains that his work with Art on the Underground since 2019 is intended to “explore imagination and a sense of connectedness between the African diaspora, and to reconsider their often forgotten or erased contributions to the city.”

What I Hear I Keep

Art on the Underground presents the 35th commission for the cover of the pocket Tube map by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong. Titled What I Hear I Keep, the artwork forms part of a series of flags and symbols that Achiampong has created to highlight and celebrate African identities.

For his Tube map cover, Achiampong incorporates Pan African colours: green, black, and red, to reflect the land, the people and the struggles the continent has endured, and yellow-gold colour to represent a new day and prosperity. The formation of 54 stars represent each of the countries on the African continent, while the chevron shapes allude to the act of sending and receiving messages that resonate.

Printed in a run of two million copies and distributed across the London Underground network, the pocket Tube map is an ideal site for Achiampong’s artwork, which highlights communities which have often been overlooked in the capital’s prominent spaces. Achiampong explains that the design is intended to ‘explore the imagination and a sense of connectedness across African communities, and to reconsider their often forgotten or erased contributions to the city.’

What I Hear I Keep relates to a broader theme of migration that runs through Achiampong’s work. His science fiction-inspired ‘Relic Traveller’ film series, for example, features explorers from an imagined future version of the African Union, that journey across sites outside of the African continent gathering testimonies from those marginalised by previous societal structures.

In 2019, Achiampong’s largest-scale intervention (PAN AFRICAN FLAGS FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE) completely transformed Westminster station by replacing each of its more than 70 London Underground roundel signages with re-imagined versions using Pan African colours. In 2022, Art on the Underground will unveil a new permanent version of this artwork in the same station.

Achiampong’s first major UK solo exhibition opens at Turner Contemporary in Margate, on 12 March 2022, before touring to MK Gallery in Milton Keynes and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. Films from Achiampong’s Relic Traveller series will be on view alongside a new feature film titled WayFinder, created during the pandemic and shot at a multitude of locations across England.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us via email. Thank you for supporting Art on the Underground.

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