Underground Heroes brings together artist David Blandy and young people and staff from Fairbridge in London’s Kennington Centre. Inspired by comic books tales of heroic quests, each young person has created a superhero persona that draws upon their own interests and aspirations.
With the assistance of photographer Tom Wichelow, costume designer Jenny Hayton and make-up artists Amita Rallin and Antigoni Livieratou, the group have been transformed into their characters for a series of photographic portraits to be displayed at the entrance to Charing Cross Underground station. The young people also devised their own heroic adventures with David Blandy and illustrator Inko for a trail of comic strips along the foot tunnel at Embankment station.
The project has developed from David Blandy’s own practice that deals with themes of identity and travel, questioning the extent to which we are shaped by popular culture. The artist has created his own alter-ego called The Barefoot Lone Pilgrim whose quest is to travel in search of soul. This figure draws upon the artist’s interest in Japanese movies, manga comics and computer games.
Personal journeys and new beginnings are central to Fairbridge, a national charity supporting young people aged 13-25 who are outside of education, training or employment to develop the confidence, motivation and skills to change their lives. Fairbridge provides chances for young people, who are often struggling with difficult situations, to prove what they are capable of achieving and this project is one such opportunity.