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?
About Helen Cammock
Helen Cammock (b.1970) works in a variety of media including printmaking, film, photography, poetry, spoken word and song. Her work explores the roles we take in moments of crisis, both as individuals and collectively. She uses lived experience to speak to wider structural concerns and explores how the cyclical nature of history and structures of power underpin the way we live. By using multiple voices, registers and dialogues her work creates fragmented, non-linear narratives that provide a condition for a different type of thinking. Cammock was shortlisted for the 2019 Turner Prize. She lives and works in Brighton.