Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Gayle Chong Kwan

18 July 2008 – 18 May 2009

Part of the following series:

Community Projects

New work by Gayle Chong Kwan in collaboration with Borough Market traders, London Underground staff, Roast restaurant workers and Southwark College catering students

“Travel enables us to enrich our lives with new experiences, to enjoy and to be educated, to learn respect for foreign cultures, to establish friendships.”
Jules Verne

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a major three-part exhibition commissioned by Platform for Art at Southwark and London Underground stations. It is the result of a unique collaboration between artist Gayle Chong Kwan and people originating from all over the world who live, work and study in the London Bridge and Southwark areas. The exhibitions, Intra, Hollow Earth and Core depict fantastical worlds inspired by journeys real and imagined.

Chong Kwan led workshops and dialogues over a period of six months in restaurants, hotels, kitchens and in Borough Market. Over 60 London Underground staff, market traders, restaurant workers, and catering students worked collaboratively with the artist.

In the workshops, Chong Kwan explored culinary histories and cultures. Themes of emotional and imaginary journeys touched upon in Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, were also used as starting points for discussion. Participants shared their personal and sensory memories as well as their relationships with food. They experimented with blindfolded tasting activities, and cooking and food sculpting techniques.

Methods for analysing taste were used to map personal responses to particular foods. The groups explored the local area and recorded responses to the sights, smells and sounds through photography, mapping, drawing and writing.
Participants also looked at London Underground’s catering history and used this research to formulate ideas for catering and banqueting on the modern-day Tube system.

Intra, Hollow Earth and Core are epic visual representations of the accumulation and convergence of these explorative journeys.

Intra is the starting point for a Journey to the Centre of the Earth and depicts a view from the inside of an imaginary cave, looking out to a new underworld. This landscape has been sculpted from food-packaging materials found in Borough market and natural food packaging such as peanut and egg shells. Intra was created by Chong Kwan. The concept of the work and selection of the materials was developed through conversations and tasting workshops with Borough Market traders and Roast Restaurant staff.

External windows either side of London Bridge Tube entrance (Borough High Street side) opposite entrance to Borough Market.

Hollow Earth
Hollow Earth is a fantastical world located in a spectacular galaxy of stars. The world was created communally in just one day using only food grown underground by catering students from Southwark College and London Underground staff. The star constellations were formed by star tasting profiles and drawings of memories and stories created from workshops with Chong Kwan.

Two billboards on either side of the entrance to Southwark Tube (The Cut and Blackfriar’s road)

Core is a series of volcanic landscapes that have been merged together to create a new world inspired by fantasy journeys. Catering students from Southwark College constructed these landscapes using food and cooking techniques.

Interchange corridor between Jubilee and Northern lines at London Bridge Underground stations.

Roast Restaurant is a busy and popular bar and restaurant drawing on the best of Britain’s seasonal produce and cooking traditions set in a landmark building in London’s Borough Market. The 120-seat restaurant is the creation of Iqbal Wahhab – founder of The Cinnamon Club in Westminster and has been constructed on the site of Britain’s oldest surviving food market, just by London Bridge. The building has been given a stunning frontage in the form of the portico of the old Covent Garden flower market with the first-floor restaurant offering diners views onto the market on one side and over into St Paul’s Cathedral on the other.

For more information visit

Southwark College is a popular further-education college that provides a wide range of courses for over 10,000 students from diverse backgrounds. The college is spread over several sites, including a building opposite Southwark Tube and another a short walk from Bermondsey Tube. The College offers full-time catering and hospitality courses.

For more information visit

Borough Market is London’s oldest food market. It was established on the south bank of the Thames when the Romans built the first London Bridge. It has occupied its present site for 250 years and is located on Borough High Street, opposite London Bridge Tube and just south of Southwark Cathedral. People come to trade at the market from all different parts of the UK. The retail market is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information visit

List of participants

London Underground
Noorani Khodadeen, Gyles Henry, Carlton Pearce
Saiyed Ali, Brian Valentine, Henry O’Brien, Stuart Cooper, Maryama Ziaoui, Dionne Smith, Jason Edwards, Hamza Ali, Allison Whitecross, Gary Campbell
Rosalie Brown, Barbara Titmuss, Roy Ale, Maureen Bowder, Said Otmani, James John

Southwark College
Michael Nicolaou, Nicolas Nicolaou, Regina Latiff, Bisola Bello, Oscar Minango, Tamara Minango, Fatmata Kamara, Marcia Grant, Jonathan Robinson, Beverley Mills, Anna Wilson, Amie Stacey, Emily Watson, Rochelle Robinson

Borough Market
Charlotte Deme at Chegworth Valley, Finn Greig of Carlo Piccolo Olive Oil, Marcus Fitzgerald at Monmouth Coffee, Jill Liddell-Grainger from Jill’s Jam, Alice Hoult at KäseSwiss, Max Woodhead at Orkney Rose, Philip Crouch at The Real Parma Ham Company, Peter Kent from West County Venison, Alex Fraser at East Teas

Roast Restaurant
Janine Hoggins, Lenka Strapková, Judex Franjois, Zviadi Begaohuuli, Rinaldo Fantoni, Vincent Lebreton, Katie Jacuso, Kunpu Li, Mohamed Mfoukh, Kesiu Mouh, Jose Fernando da Silva, Pere Ramirez, Steve Wong, Simon Brencher, Bhavish Goindo


Sensory guided tours of Tube and Borough Market
Six sensory guided tours of Intra, Hollow Earth, and Core at Southwark and London Bridge Underground stations will take place in late summer 2007.
The tours are free and include food-tasting sessions at Borough Market.
The tours will be led by Cassie Werber in collaboration with Southwark College catering students, Borough Market traders, London Underground staff and Roast restaurant workers.

Limited places available, book now to avoid disappointment:

Testing foods at Borough Market
All tours start at Southwark Underground station ticket hall. All participants must have a valid ticket or oyster card for zone 1 stations.

Sorry, all dates now fully booked.

  • Friday 24 August 1.30pm (Sign Language Interpreted by Andrew Green) fully booked
  • Saturday 25 August 10.30am fully booked
  • Friday 31 August 12.00 pm (Sign Language Interpreted by Andrew Green fully booked
  • Saturday 1 September 10.30am fully booked
  • Saturday 1 September 9.00pm fully booked
  • Saturday 8 September 9.00pm fully booked

Catering on the London Underground
Transport for London has a long-established relationship with catering – a heritage borne out of a need to satisfy the appetite of a large and growing workforce. In the 1860s the Metropolitan Railway hosted a lavish fundraising banquet in unfinished tunnels to attract further investment. In 1910–1920 it was common for dinners to be held for staff to celebrate special events. Between 1948 and 1973, London Transport (LT), held Catering Queen and best-dressed canteen contests.

During World War II, 63 million people sheltered in London’s Underground stations, which sparked a large-scale catering operation. London Transport set up a Tube Refreshment Special train, which delivered food and drink to the stations; canteens run by volunteers were set up on platforms.

After the war, London Transport’s catering operation massively expanded, leading the way in the development of industrial catering processes in the UK. Staff were recruited from the West Indies and other countries to train as chefs and canteen assistants to meet the demand of the growing transport network.

atering on the Underground is still in operation now, albeit on a much reduced scale, with canteens at St James’s Park, Baker Street and Acton serving international cuisine that reflects the culinary tastes of TfL’s diverse workforce.

For more information about the history of Transport for London visit the London Transport museum website:

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