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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.

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.”

5 more minutes

Art on the Underground presents 5 more minutes, a new large-scale public commission at Brixton Underground station by London-based artist Joy Labinjo – launched on 11 November 2021 and on view for one year. Drawing on her personal experiences of growing up in the UK with British-Nigerian heritage, Labinjo’s commission explores ideas of memory and belonging, and the significance of the hair salon as a centre of community in both the artist’s personal experience as well as in wider Black British female culture.

This work is the fifth in a series of commissions at Brixton station, following on from 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.

For her new commission, 5 more minutes, Labinjo depicts the interior of an imagined hair salon, an amalgamation of the spaces that the artist has visited over her life. The scene represents how the salon might look on a Saturday morning, with women and children of different generations gathered and interacting together, including recognisable and nostalgic details from the salon’s interior. The composition of the painting, brought to life using a vivid palette of colours, originates from the Labinjo’s lived experience, using images from family albums, online and historical sources, as well as from memory. Hair salons are a central part of the Afro-Caribbean community in Brixton. They have endured significant changes to the local area and continue to play an essential role.

Labinjo’s commission is rooted in the fabric of Brixton’s vibrant and diverse communities. Throughout her life, Labinjo would travel to Brixton specifically to get her hair done and, for the artist, the area’s hair salons evoke a strong sense of identity and emotional connection, exemplifying the strength of Brixton’s local community. The artist portrays the intimacy of the space by showing the conversations and relationships between women, bringing this Black British female experience to the fore. By depicting the smells, sounds and textures of the salon, she evokes a sense of place, enabling viewers to imagine themselves there. At its core, the commission is a celebration of Black female culture.

Public Programme: Alexandre da Cunha, 'Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset'

Starting in August 2021 and focussing around the date of the autumn equinox a series of talks, workshops and events will expand on the themes and ideas within da Cunha’s artwork connecting it to site, publics, community and contemporary art practice.

The public programme will be delivered across different formats and registers to be of interest to a range of audiences – artists, art students, arts professionals, local community, schools and young people.

Taking the title Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, the public programme acts as a conceptual framing for a series of events timed to register the suggested moments of the day.

Local collaborators include, Urban Canopy, who have been creating gardens and engaging communities with horticulture, art and education in the Patmore Estate since 2018. Starting August 2021 a series of workshops will work with local residents to maintain and develop local community garden sites, thinking through cycles of the day, of nature, seasons of planting and how we move through, pay attention and contribute to our outside environments.

A series of workshops will also be programmed for local groups with Photofusion, founded not far from the new stations as a photo coop in 1979. Photofusion have developed a programme of photography workshops connecting to observing and recording moments of the day from sunset photography walks to Solargraphy a process of long exposure photography that captures of the image of the sun moving across the sky. Working with Elays Network’s youth project, Battersea Women’s Network, Fast – Youth Battersea and open access sessions, workshops will centre the camera’s focus on the sky – its movement, cycles and presence.

 

A series of talks with Alexandre da Cunha planned for November 2021 will also offer insight into the process and development of ideas towards the final artwork.

sit alongside and feel me breathe

Helen Cammock, sit alongside and feel me breathe, is the new cover artwork for the 34th edition of the pocket Tube map, commissioned by Art on the Underground. Originally conceived as a Tube map cover, the piece was extended and featured alongside two further text-based artworks as part of an ambitious city-wide poster commission.

For her Tube map cover, Cammock explores the notion of ‘breath’ within crisis. The words sit alongside and feel me breathe punctuate a deep purple background, reflecting on our human response to the events that have unfolded over the past eighteen months: the effects of a global pandemic; the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests; the ecological challenges we continue to face; and the inequalities made evident through Covid-19.

The symbolism of ‘breath’ takes on an increased significance due to the respiratory nature of Covid-19 and the murder of George Floyd. There is no escaping the air we share, we are intrinsically linked by our need for breath – this artwork questions the value we see in and feel for others, and explores people’s attitude towards the habitation of public space.

Over the past year, physical and digital public spaces have been filled with instructional messaging, advising on how to behave in the interest of public health. Helen Cammock’s language, tone and the spacing of her words gives pause from this, bringing a human voice to reflect upon how we occupy our environment again. Her Tube map cover is a monument to a moment in time, disseminated throughout the city it will live on in coat pockets, desk draws and the bottom of bags, marking a collective experience.

The artwork for the 34th edition of the Tube map explores the concept of empathy and people’s attitude towards public space. Covid-19 has dramatically altered our understanding of other people’s physical presence, however, the Tube is a public space which we inhabit together. Cammock’s artwork metaphorically questions togetherness – as a society can we ‘sit alongside’ one another?

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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