Art on the Underground present a new commission by Njideka Akunyili Crosby for Brixton station, which will be on view for six months from 20 September. Nigerian-born Akunyili Crosby has been invited to take on the first commission in a new programme at Brixton station. The programme takes the numerous murals that were created in Brixton during the 1980s as an initial point of departure and invites selected artists to respond to their diverse narratives, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.
Akunyili Crosby’s work explores her hybrid cultural identity, combining strong attachments to the country of her birth and her current home in Los Angeles. This theme will continue in her new Brixton commission, this time addressing a specifically black British perspective. Akunyili Crosby has created a work that investigates shared cultural memory and connects the past and present through an exploration of place. Remain, Thriving is a new work made specifically for the entrance of Brixton Underground station. The work depicts an imagined domestic scene, a theme predominant in much of the artist’s work, of an informal gathering of grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Windrush generation in a fictional home in Brixton. The space contains a number of vestiges of an earlier generation, such as a doily or record player, which the figures might have inherited from their parents or grandparents.
In order to anchor her new work in Brixton, and a British diasporic experience, Akunyili Crosby spent time in the area speaking to longstanding members of the local community as well as public historian Kelly Foster, the Black Cultural Archives, and the Lambeth Archives. The artist collated contemporary and archival images of Brixton to use in her final artwork, and the transferred images in the background of Remain, Thriving echo the heavily patterned wallpaper of a previous era. Through the use of photo-collage, Akunyili Crosby’s layered images of social gatherings are also complex reflections on history, community and politics, much like the original Brixton murals. The artist creates densely layered figurative compositions that, precise in style, conjure the complexity of contemporary experience.