It’s not every London Underground worker who has a song written and recorded about her, but that’s what has happened to Kim Kalan.
The bubbly customer service assistant at Caledonian Road station, on the Piccadilly line, has been brightening up the ticket hall with her intricate whiteboard drawings – with an accompanying cheerful message for passengers.
As well as being praised by customers, Kim’s colourful drawings were noticed by local musician Eoin Quiery. He was so impressed he decided a write a song about her, which has been recorded on the latest album made by his acoustic rock band, Burning Wheel.
Called Kimmie Song, it can also be found on YouTube and other social networking sites.
“It all began in a small way,” said self-taught artist Kim. “When we used to display notices to the public about delays or other problems, I started to put little drawings on them to brighten them up.”
She then moved on to the whiteboard drawings, working on them in her breaks and often coming in early before her shift begins.
Using white board markers she covers a wide range of subjects, ranging from the Mona Lisa to the World Cup and Armistice Day, always coming up with something special to mark Christmas, Easter and other seasonal occasions.
“I do it purely to make the day better for my customers,” said Kim, who affectionately refers to them as “my lovelies.”
She added: “What’s important to me is the positive effect my drawings and messages have on people; I’m not after any sort of recognition.”
Passengers regularly praise her drawings, including a local professional artist who said he could not do what she does with the white board markers. Other passengers have asked her to draw portraits of them.
Asked what she thought when she found out that Eoin Quiery had written a song about her, she said: “I was very surprised. How often do people get a song written about them?”
Kim, whose mother Sandra works in the station’s ticket office, also writes science fiction in her spare time. Her first fantasy book is complete and Kim is currently waiting for an agent.
“My ambition is to become a full-time writer,” she said. “In the meantime I will continue with my ticket hall drawings and am so glad that they have met with such a brilliant response from customers.”
You can check out more of Kims work at www.kimistic.co.uk
Words and photos by Stephen Barry, Museum Friend