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2023 Programme Announcement

Art on the Underground’s programme for 2023 comprises ambitious and critically engaged new works. Responding to London Underground as a constantly changing site of multiple histories, communities, actions and reactions, the 2023 programme will present new works that address this daily reality through performance, sound, visual and sculptural interventions.

Art on the Underground is committed to working with a diverse range of contemporary artists to reflect on how we move through and have a collective experience of public space. How might an artwork point to, embody and be a part of these conversations? What does it mean to encounter this work in public space? Art on the Underground continue to interrogate these questions, bringing leading international artists to the city to reflect London’s diversity.

Art on the Underground’s 2023 programme features major commissions situated across London including:

  • A major project with British artist and Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd along the 60 metre long disused platform at Gloucester Road station on 18 May 2023.
  • Barby Asante will develop her seminal work ‘Declaration of Independence’, with a major performance in September 2023 at Stratford station
  • For his first international public commission, Italian artist Jem Perucchini will create a new artwork for Brixton station in November 2023.
  • American artist Sharon Hayes will create a new artwork for Holland Park station and the 38th pocket Tube map.
  • The launch of a series of artist-led collaborations with the Mayor’s Culture and Community Spaces at Risk team, bringing new audio works to the city. The first commission in the summer of 2023 will be with Shenece Oretha.
  • Canadian-Korean artist Zadie Xa will create new work for Aldgate East Tube station in March 2023 which focuses on the mythologies of the Tube environment, in dialogue with her installation at the neighbouring The Whitechapel Gallery.
  • British artist and photographer Joy Gregory will create new commissions for the pocket Tube Map.

Newbury Park: A Space Less Ordinary

This exhibition of artworks at Newbury Park Underground station marks the first in a new series of curatorial collaborations between Art on the Underground and TfL station colleagues. The programme is a way to collectively generate new artwork displays in stations and install artwork produced by members of London Underground’s Operational team.

‘Newbury Park: A Space Less Ordinary’ is a series of photographs by Robert Bassett that manipulate scenes of the iconic London Underground, specifically at Newbury Park Underground station – the trains, the station architecture, and the neighbouring bus station.

The artworks presented here playfully turn architecture into spaceship forms and distort familiar station spaces with shadows and colour filters to create speculative new future worlds and scenes – an experimental filter and understanding on the ordinary.

This new series of artwork exhibits is a way to generate new perspectives into everyday public space through artworks created by those working in stations daily, stimulating creativity and creating new collaborations and affinities with people and places.

Robert Bassett is an artist and musician who has worked at TfL for 25 years. Currently working as a Customer Station Supervisor at Newbury Park these photographs reimagine the station through a highly saturated and often futuristic-like lens. The everyday workplace becomes transformed through abstraction. By maximising colour and repeating and distorting form and shape, these images explore a new sense of place from the perspective of operational work at the station. The process of producing these images takes place at all hours and encompasses the changes to perspective that shift work can bring.

About his work, Robert said: “I’m excited to see them on display and interested in hearing what people will make of them. I hope it will help to brighten customers’ day a little and get them thinking about something different on their journey.”

Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence at St James's Park

 ‘Stooped in Courage’ is the second poem from the Art on the Underground Writer in Residence Ayesha Kundi. The writing is inspired by two temporary artworks exhibited in London Underground stations: Rhea Storr at Heathrow T4, Notting Hill Gate, Bethnal Green and Stratford Underground stations and Shanti Panchal at Brixton Underground station.

 ‘Stooped in Courage’ is installed on the platform of St James’s Park Underground Station as an artwork poster, launched November 24th 2022 and on view for one year.

The poem addresses identity and personal belonging in public space – how bodies are read, how we feel and the social and political pressure on diasporic experience and visibility in the UK.

Ayesha Kundi is a London-based writer, artist and social media creator and has worked as a Customer Service Assistant for 7 years at Tfl. Ayesha’s work is inspired by her personal experiences, her passion for reading, contemporary art forms and a deep love for her cultural heritage.

The Art on the Underground Writer in Residence is a creative 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.

Stooped in Courage – Ayesha Kundi

You tell me stories
Of black and white
Of brown and pale
Of people in disguise

Are we not
Flesh and bones
Blood and stones
Stooped in courage

Our prospects
Lie in a higher power
Our power

Are we the children
Of a lesser God
Or just the
Reminiscent
Of our
Descent

For you
We are strangers
For you
We don’t belong

But your home was built
On our blood
On our sacrifice
On our two-toned tongue

So yes
We do belong
More than.
Forever.

Routes/Roots: London

Art on the Underground are pleased to present the 37th commission for the pocket Tube map cover by London-based artist Do Ho Suh.

Do Ho Suh has created an embroidered facsimile of the iconic Tube map design focusing on the routes that he habitually uses around his home and studio. The work, titled Routes/Roots: London, connects to the artist’s interest in ideas of expanded domestic space. For Suh, the concept of ‘home’ encompasses the built environment and a conceptual space; a site of memory, imagining, and potential displacement. Home is an idea that speaks to us both as individuals and collectively in society. The commission comes at a time when most of us have been forced to question, or faced restrictions to travel, both local and international.

Central to Routes/Roots is an exploration of the patterns and idiosyncrasies of daily travel for everyone in London, during and following the pandemic. The Tube map cover connects to the new and old ways we navigate, the ways we move through and around the city.

Routes/Roots plays with the idea that the Tube map exists as a tool for rational navigation when in reality, we navigate according to more than just logic – often rerouting in favour of preferred neighbourhoods, quieter ones, to journey with others or to allow space for accidental errors or timetabling.

The act of tracing these familiar routes through embroidery suggests an act of remembrance, a rewriting and recrafting of daily journeys with a new sense of attention and looseness.

Routes/Roots relates to Suh’s practice of exploring familiar forms and spaces through unexpected fabrication techniques, many of which draw on traditional Korean crafts. The map is connected in part to a larger body of work that the artist has been developing over the pandemic – a series of ‘thread’ sculptures of quotidian objects that Suh has become newly familiarised with during the periods of lockdown.

This new work for the pocket Tube map cover expands on the artist’s central focuses of architecture, psychic space, and identity. Among his most notable works are fabric reconstructions of spaces in which he has lived throughout his life – from his family’s Hanok-style traditional home in Seoul, to his former studio in Berlin and current home in London. The rooms, the in between spaces, the objects and architectural features are carefully stitched. As with the embroidered pocket Tube map, Suh’s work reflects on home, migration and memory, and liminal spaces or lines of transit serve as metaphors for a sense of passage and identity.

Endurance

Art on the Underground presents Endurance, a new large-scale public commission at Brixton Underground station by Shanti Panchal – launched 17 November 2022 and on view for one year.

Endurance is the sixth in a series of commissions at Brixton station, following on from Joy Labinjo, Helen Johnson, Denzil Forrester, Aliza Nisenbaum and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The programme invites artists to respond to the diverse narratives of the local murals painted in the 1980s, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.

Endurance is a reproduction of a large-scale watercolour artwork in which Panchal has painted a community portrait that observes our continued resilience and interdependency. Shown in the image are three scenes of Londoners – the people include an artist, an NHS worker, a waiter, people at work and at leisure. In the background are buildings, statues and sections of open public space that draw on the Brixton neighbourhood and wider context of London. The architecture seen behind the figures includes the Black Cultural Archives, Brixton Windmill and Tate Modern. Present among the scenes are The African and Caribbean War Memorial and the Cherry Groce Memorial Pavilion in Windrush Square. These draw into the artwork monuments to places and people that we celebrate, that we have lost, that been taken from us, where we gather and build anew.

Deeply influenced by the country of his birth, India, Panchal’s work is connected to his childhood years in Mesar, North Gujarat – the colours of his village, the embodied spirituality of family life and the intensity of a small farming community. The figures in Panchal’s work carry this interior world with them, their poses and faces reminiscent of early Jain Miniature paintings. The eyes in Panchal’s figures do not directly look at each other but the artist visually creates the suggestion of a third eye, which talks of a different connection between us of shared memory and spirituality.

Panchal’s artwork for Brixton was produced over six months with layers of watercolour pigment worked into the paper almost like the process of a fresco mural. The depth of colour this creates draws on the hues of Panchal’s childhood and creates an image as though sealed  with a meditative filter. There is an intentional slowness and care to this process of painting. Panchal holds conversations with the figures he is painting which creates an intimacy between the artist and the scene, drawing together memory, experience and the present in a composition that reflects our contemporary moment.

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 considered how identity and Black nation-making are formed by exploring the concepts of Afr0-Futurism and Pan Africanism respectively. Participants learnt 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.

The live sessions ran from Tuesday 13 September 2022 – 4 October 2022

Time: 6.30-7:45pm

Free. Online. 

Courses were delivered live on Zoom and to create an interactive teaching environment, learning material was provided to registered participants prior to each class. Participants can access the learning platform on the Black Blossom’s website 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 launched on 22 July 2022 and will 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.

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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