Art on the Underground invited a class of year 10 art & design students from Westminster City School to take part in a poster competition inspired by Larry Achiampong’s ambitious public commission, ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAGS FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE’ 2019 which reimagined London Underground’s iconic roundel at Westminster Underground station.
The final design was chosen by artist Shepherd Manyika who led a workshop with the students, including portrait drawing, a mapping exercise, a visit to Westminster station, sketching in the surrounding area and responding to a brief.
The brief was to create an image for a poster design inspired by Larry Achiampong’s commission. The students were asked to respond to:
- The redesign of an iconic London or British design in a way that changes its meaning and makes you feel more represented both culturally and personally;
- The idea of ‘sankofa’ – using the past to prepare for the future.
The winning design by Niaz Rahman has been produced by a professional designer and will be exhibited at Westminster station throughout the summer.
Niaz said about his work: “My poster design is called ‘Equality’ because it represents people of all ethnicities and sends the message that we should be United. My main idea was to redesign the London Underground roundel, using inspiration from coats of arms I’ve researched from centuries past. I used trains which I distorted using Photoshop and reflected, to create the circle in my design. The bar going through the middle is made of all the different tube lines. On either side of this are perched pigeons, as these became such an iconic part of central London and Trafalgar Square. A British Bulldog slouched on top of my design, representing how Britain’s success rests on the achievements of many cultures. In the background of the poster, I have placed every flag on a low opacity, to allow them to compliment rather than clash with the design. The silhouetted footprints represent our path from the past into the future learning from our mistakes. The slogan I chose to show reads ‘Colours don’t fight they create something new’ because it occurred to me so many things couldn’t be created without colour mixing and there would be so much less variety and interest in life if we didn’t mix and respect each other.”
Elaine Chance, Head of Art at Westminster City School said about the project: “They watched the video of Larry Achiampong’s work and said they liked the way he was fighting for social justice, equality for all with his work, and it had more meaning than they realised when they first saw it. The idea that the colours of the roundel are very imperialist had never struck them so they looked at the colour in Achiampong’s designs and the underground differently following the workshop.”
Shepherd Manyika is a London based artist who works with mixed media. Manyika is interested in representations, drawing narratives from found images and the everyday. Manyika graduated in BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martin’s in 2011 and MA in Academic Practice in Art, Design and Communication, from Central Saint Martins 2019. He exhibited at Royal Academy School of Arts with the Parasites school residency and works on various education programmes across London.