Art on the Underground presents the 35th commission for the cover of the pocket Tube map by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong. Titled What I Hear I Keep, the artwork forms part of a series of flags and symbols that Achiampong has created to highlight and celebrate African identities.
For his Tube map cover, Achiampong incorporates Pan African colours: green, black, and red, to reflect the land, the people and the struggles the continent has endured, and yellow-gold colour to represent a new day and prosperity. The formation of 54 stars represent each of the countries on the African continent, while the chevron shapes allude to the act of sending and receiving messages that resonate.
Printed in a run of two million copies and distributed across the London Underground network, the pocket Tube map is an ideal site for Achiampong’s artwork, which highlights communities which have often been overlooked in the capital’s prominent spaces. Achiampong explains that the design is intended to ‘explore the imagination and a sense of connectedness across African communities, and to reconsider their often forgotten or erased contributions to the city.’
What I Hear I Keep relates to a broader theme of migration that runs through Achiampong’s work. His science fiction-inspired ‘Relic Traveller’ film series, for example, features explorers from an imagined future version of the African Union, that journey across sites outside of the African continent gathering testimonies from those marginalised by previous societal structures.
In 2019, Achiampong’s largest-scale intervention (PAN AFRICAN FLAGS FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE) completely transformed Westminster station by replacing each of its more than 70 London Underground roundel signages with re-imagined versions using Pan African colours. In 2022, Art on the Underground will unveil a new permanent version of this artwork in the same station.
Achiampong’s first major UK solo exhibition opens at Turner Contemporary in Margate, on 12 March 2022, before touring to MK Gallery in Milton Keynes and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. Films from Achiampong’s Relic Traveller series will be on view alongside a new feature film titled WayFinder, created during the pandemic and shot at a multitude of locations across England.