Emma Smith

Jan - July 2017

‘Televox’ is a project by UK based artist Emma Smith, commissioned by Art on the Underground.

Following the route of the new Northern Line Extension (Kennington – Nine Elms – Battersea Power Station), the project opened a line of communication between communities in close geographic proximity. Smith drew inspiration from the history of the telegraph in Nine Elms, which provided a revolution in long distance communication in the nineteenth century. In contrast, the project offers a new form of short distance communication through musical telegraphy between neighbours.

As part of her initial research Smith presented a series of public research activities exploring ideas behind the project at Tate Modern for the Tate Exchange programme between January and March 2017; and identified local residents, businesses and community groups located along the route of the new Northern Line Extension.

Smith walked the length of the Northern Line Extension in three days in June, collecting messages from local residents and businesses about what being a neighbour means to them. Participants were invited to contribute a ten-word message, the equivalent length of an old telegram message.

These messages were translated into Morse code, and then in to a musical score for a pianola.  The placement of the notes and timings were determined according to the geographic location from which the message was given. The performance of the score, written for a Duo-Art Pianola premiered on Saturday 15 July 2017 at the Village Hall in Battersea.

A series of posters based on the coded messages exchanged are now on view across Northern line stations. The score will be available to listen to on the website in late July.


The project was supported by the following people:

Amanprit Sandhu, Eleanor Pinfield, Anne Mullins, Trisha Boland, Glenn Burnell, Michael Boyd, Julian Dyer, Jorgen Faxholm, Sophie Dutton, Preben Raunsbjerg, Charlie Bryan, David Smith, Debbie Crockford, Sebastian Timmis, Robert Townsend and Peter Gow.

The artist would like to thank everyone who contributed to the work including:

Philip Nipah. Harry Gonnewardene, Chloe Nartey, Jheni Arboine, Gabriel Ferreira, Clemencia Fregiste, Raj Panchatcharoon, Brian Barnes, Lilya Barnes, Fred Hooper, Nick Sharma, Justin Denyer, Grant Wild, Steve Lay, Paul Grimshaw, John Mc Gilligan, Jasmine O’Connell, Claire Bamping, Rebecca Flash, Lauren Preston, Paulo Luis, Colm Harris, Edith Holtham, Icilda, Mr. D, Manolita Rodriguez, Denise Spencer, Anne Bissette, Margaret Bilyard, In Honour of Frederick Bilyard, Frank Kennedy, Duarte Nuno Soares, Yllo Kohi, Marc Boothe, Isaac Dudzicki, Jackie Ryan, Bethan Kendrick, Veneshia Baley, Graham Evans, Rachel Moore, Deborah Bestwick, Joanna Lally, Sarah Archdeacon, Emily Rastas, Tim Gillman, Gary Jacobs and Tasmin Bahia.

Televox is the first commission in Art on the Undergrounds artist-led programme focused on communities working and living along the Northern Line Extension.  Centred on the neighbourhoods of Kennington, Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea, the four year programme will present a series of ambitious collaborations between artists and local residents.

The programme has been supported by the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, Battersea Power Station, Wandsworth and Lambeth Councils.



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