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VOLTA by Heather Phillipson

VOLTA

Audio-collage
8 minutes 32 seconds

Acknowledging the seismic global changes of the past few months, Heather Phillipson has been commissioned by Art on the Underground to produce a new online work to accompany her Fourth Plinth commission, THE END. A counterpoint in tone to THE END, Phillipson’s new audio-collage, VOLTA, reckons with upheaval, renewal and possibility. Written and composed by Phillipson, it combines her distinctive layering of voice, sound effects and music samples to destabilise and relocate.

Phillipson’s singular, visceral audio works connect an abundance of noises, words and images, generating multiple possible directions. Her frenzied musings bend speech to tempo and logic to rhythm, disrupting perceptions and assumptions.

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 is 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.

The Bower of Bliss

Art on the Underground present a major public commission by British artist Linder at Southwark station.

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 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 drew 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 which wraps the entire station façade at Southwark station.

Linder has been working with photomontage for the past three decades, created from images lifted from erotic, women’s fashion and domestic magazines. The photomontages manipulate and disrupt to challenge cultural expectations of women and in particular the female body as commodity.

Pleasure’s Inaccuracies

Art on the Underground present a large-scale public commission of permanent and temporary artworks by Scottish-born, Belgium-based artist Lucy McKenzie, titled Pleasure’s Inaccuracies.

McKenzie is fascinated by the decoration of public spaces such as train stations, and her work frequently combines source material from the realms of historical design, advertising and architecture. For what is her most ambitious public commission to date, she chose Sudbury Town Tube station, a historic, listed building designed by Charles Holden in 1931, for its location and architecture. Situated outside of central London, with a cavernous main hall, original features and waiting rooms on each platform, the station is evocative of another era. 

By respecting Sudbury Town’s original design, McKenzie’s commission reflects the present through the aesthetics of the past. The commission comprises a number of elements: two permanent hand-painted ceiling murals featuring maps of the local area; a highly detailed architectural model of the station which will remain on permanent display; two large billboards installed on each platform; and a series of posters which will be on display until April 2022.

Morden

For the 31st edition of the Pocket Tube map, Art on the Underground have commissioned a new work by Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams. As the UK approach leaving the European Union and move towards an uncertain future, this commission is part of a year-long programme which brings together international artists to explore the emotional weight of longing and belonging to the city as it crosses this edge.

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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

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 presented 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 presented interventions which reach from Kennington to Battersea stations.

Launched 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 presented an ambitious public commission by British Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong, which re-imagined London Underground’s iconic roundel, for Westminster Underground station from November 2019 – February 2020.

As part of the artist’s on-going multi-disciplinary and multi-site project ‘Relic Traveller’, Achiampong interrupted the traditional red and blue logo that since 1908 has been synonymous with the Underground and London. The commission sought to consider the possibilities of alternate histories and formed part of Art on the Underground’s 2019 programme which looked 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 chose 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 were installed in seventy sites throughout Westminster Underground station.

Based in science fiction and traditional Adinkra symbolism, Achiampong’s roundel redesign built 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 “sankofa”, 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, opened narratives regarding African mythologies and their relationship to science fiction.

Achiampong’s work with Art on the Underground provided 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 is installed at the new Underground station at Battersea Power Station, which opened on 20 September 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 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 over 150 metres in length, the friezes 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 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’ creates 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 Spring 2021.

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.

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