Platform for Art, the art programme for London Underground, is proud to present the first major commission from its Creative Communities programme by artists Ella Gibbs and Amy Plant.
Entitled A Station Musical for Stratford and inspired by the nearby 2012 Games, the artists led a series of workshops with children from Carpenters Primary School – the closest school to the official site – as well as station staff and passengers. The result is a staggering 50-metre frieze, which will be shown in the mezzanine window at Stratford Underground station, reflecting the local pride, diversity and culture of the Stratford area.
By working across a range of media including film, photography, drawing, writing and dance, the artists encouraged participants to explore the memories, hopes and ideas they have for Stratford, past present and future. The resulting frieze is a visual statement for a ‘musical’ – a reference to Stratford’s historical connection to the birth of the music hall – expressing what it means for Stratford’s community to be a key part of the monumental events happening in six years’ time.
This new addition to the Stratford Underground station will bring a dramatic explosion of colour and will be a fantastic endorsement of London’s collective joy and commitment to hosting the 2012 Games. The official unveiling ceremony on 24 March will be – in true Stratford style – a community effort with local dignitaries and residents. East London music-training organisation Urban Development also ran a series of sessions with the school children to create unique new songs about Stratford, which will be performed at the launch.
“We first got involved with Platform for Art after a previous art project came down from the space”, comments Mike Smith, Manager of Stratford Underground station. “It left a big hole in the station, and as we wanted something community-based, we were able to work with the Creative Communities programme of Platform for Art to produce a piece that really reflected the diverse people of Stratford.”
“It was a really worthwhile experience and was so inspiring to engage with the local community”, comments the artist, Ella Gibbs. “We both were quite overwhelmed at the amount of material and ideas Stratford residents had to bring to the project.”
Working with designers Åbäke, Plant and Gibb completed the piece by adding the names of all the participants using a customised version of the font Gil Sans Ultra Bold – a reference to Edward Johnston, who created the London Underground typeface and under whom Gil was a student.
The font for the centrepiece of the frieze Station Musical for Stratford is borrowed from a poster for Oh! What A Lovely War, a musical devised and directed by Joan Littlewood for Stratford East theatre in 1963. The composition was produced in a studio generously provided by Tannery Arts and the Drawing Room.
Amy Plant and Ella Gibbs live and work in London and set up Pilot Publishing in 2004. Pilot Publishing led a community collaboration project, commissioned by The Drawing Room in 2004, to produce a magazine made by people who live, work and pass through Laburnum Street. They have also worked with the Serpentine Gallery to produce Autopilot – a magazine in response to My Playstation at the Serpentine by Tomoko Takahashi, 2005. Both artists have exhibited internationally. In their individual practices they regularly work in collaboration with a diverse range of people.
The Station Musical for Stratford was officially unveiled by Olympic Gold Medalist and 2012 Ambassador Tessa Sanderson on 24 March 2006.