Cultural Yoga

Cultural Yoga adds another dimension to the museum experience

Cultural Yoga instructor Chi Onuora combines her two passions, museum education and yoga, to help Londoners add another level of awareness to their museum visit. She runs architectural yoga at the Design Museum and Sir John Soane’s Museum, and now she is bringing her unique approach to London Transport Museum.

Cultural Yoga instructor Chi Onuora

Chi will host a Yoga and Mindfulness workshop as part of the upcoming Late Debate: Environment matters on 7th June. As well as debates on climate change and air pollution, talks and workshops on sustainable transport and greening the city, the Late Debate will be exploring mental health and well-being for city dwellers.

Late Debate: Environment matters

The Yoga and Mindfulness for Urban Living workshop will include a 10-15 minute self-practice for waking up in the morning and winding down in the evening and some desk-based yoga to help with common conditions caused by office work such as wrist and neck problems.

Cultural yoga headstand

And even if you’re not quite able to do a headstand in the middle of the tube, why not use your daily commute for a mindfulness practice? “Mindfulness can help us be more aware of our environment, which can then enable us to change it. And it can help us get through a stressful situation that we might not be able to change – such as the busy tube ride to work in the morning”, says Chi.

Cultural yoga

To take part, join the Late Debate on 7th June. In the meantime, follow @LTMInterchange on Twitter to stay up to date on the ShapingLDN programme and follow @CulturalYoga on Instagram for a taste of Chi Onuora’s practice.

Cultural yoga

 

Advertisements

Let’s clear the air

Let’s clear the air – how to tackle London’s air pollution problem with Professor Frank Kelly of the London Air Quality Network at King’s College London

Walking down Oxford Street on a warm day makes the claim that it is sometimes the world’s most polluted street seem believable. This, of course, is difficult to prove or disprove. The London Air Quality Network measure levels of air pollution in every London Borough and publish the results hourly. It consists of about 100 monitors, very sensitive machines which measure small particles by weight, and gases like Nitrogen Dioxide and Ozone using spectroscopy.

Air quality

Professor Frank Kelly started the network in 1993, as part of the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London. At first, it was established to monitor the pollution in East London where the last remaining power stations were, and coal-burning was the main concern.

While coal is not a considerable source of pollution in London any more, the pollutants found in the air today are mainly coming from transport vehicles. Frank Kelly says: “Diesel in particular has increased as a source of pollutant over that time because all of our public transport system is basically diesel-fuelled.”

So what can we do to reduce these emissions? The bus fleet is slowly being modernised with electric single-decker buses and hybrid double-deckers. The first electric black cabs can be seen on London’s streets and there are grants available to cabbies to help make that transition. But a lot of diesel and petrol vehicles are privately owned cars. Frank Kelly sees the responsibility with the motor vehicle industry itself: within the range of cars that conform to Euro 6 emission standards, there is still a large discrepancy of actual emissions, and it is hard for consumers to find out which vehicles are cleaner than others.

Having said this, Kelly does recommend choosing public transport over driving no matter how clean your car is, and says he would love to one day see a car-free city: “I think it would be a much better city to live in. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take a few decades for everyone to realise what the benefits of this will be. Unless you go to Copenhagen or another city which has moved in that direction, you can’t really see what the benefits are until you experience them yourself.” This would go hand in hand with improving cycling infrastructure. But Frank Kelly emphasises how important it is to gain the population’s support before continuing in this direction, again looking at Copenhagen to learn how to overcome resistance to change.

Air pollution mapLondon map showing pollution levels on londonair.org.uk

Frank Kelly is chairing a panel debate at London Transport Museum’s upcoming Late Debate: Environment matters. He’ll be joined by panellists Lilli Matson, Director of Transport Strategy at Transport for London; Samantha Heath, Chief Executive of the London Sustainability Exchange; Justin Bishop, Senior Consultant in Transport Planning at Arup, and Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London. Together they’ll be debating and discussing measures such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force in April 2019, and how combined technical, regulatory, and educational approaches can provide a solution to this serious health threat.

To take part in the debate and put your own questions to the panel, join the Late Debate on 7th June. In the meantime, send your thoughts, questions, opinions, or snaps of electric buses or cabs to @LTMInterchange on Twitter.

The Travel Queen

Dorrit Dekk (1917-2014) was probably the most successful female poster designer working in Britain during the 1950s and 60s. Known as ‘The Travel Queen’, her joyful images for Air France, the Orient Line, P&O and the Post Office earned her a worldwide following. Yet surprisingly, given London Transport’s reputation as a patron of outstanding design, she produced only one poster for the Underground, We Londoners (1961), which can be seen in the Museum’s current Poster Girls exhibition.

The commission was the idea of Harold Hutchison, London Transport’s Publicity Officer, who wanted a poster showing various London ‘types’ wearing distinctive, or ceremonial, dress. His suggestions included well-known figures, like Chelsea Pensioners and market porters, alongside more obscure ‘occupations’, such as a Royal Mace Bearer and a Swan Upper. Quite what the Czech born Dekk made of these suggestions is not recorded, but she set about the task in May 1960. The final design, for which she was paid 120 guineas, was published in June the following year. Dekk was evidently very pleased with the result, telling Hutchison that the poster “looks quite gay and just right for the foreign invasion of tourists”. She had the design reprinted as her personal Christmas card, while London Transport reissued it under licence to Cunard and even as a headscarf pattern in 1969.

Doritt Dekk

To find out more about the women who designed posters for the Underground in the 1960s and throughout the last century, visit our Poster Girls exhibition during our ‘Swinging Sixties’ Friday Late, which takes place this Friday evening 18 May. As well as the exhibition, you can enjoy curated lectures, tours, workshops and there will be bars and 60s sounds played by the Museum’s resident DJ – The Museum of Vinyl.

www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/friday-lates#swinging-sixties

David Bownes is co-curator of Poster Girls and director of Twentieth Century Posters www.twentiethcenturyposters.com

BATTLE BUS RESEARCH VOLUNTEER PROJECT – The Final Session

This blog is part of a mini-series of updates about the Battle Bus Research Volunteer Project. To keep up-to-date with all the latest programme activities, please visit the ‘Battle Bus’ section in London Transport Museum blog.

The Final Session

The research volunteers presented their findings to the rest of the group, before a well-deserved ‘Well done and thank you’ from the Battle Bus team. Volunteer Eithne Cullen rounds up the final session of the Battle Bus research project:

The last session brought together all the interesting research we’ve been doing over several weeks. The volume of information and the depth of people’s research were impressive. Everyone had loved using the T.O.T staff magazine to learn about transport workers’ experiences. Others have been to The National Archives at Kew in southwest London and the British Library in central London to extend their knowledge and understanding of the role of the B-type buses.

We took turns to sum up the research that we’d done. We looked at how the buses became involved in the First World War, going back to the months before war broke out, when Thomas Clarkson demonstrated the way his Chelmsford bus could move at speed. We learned about how the buses were requisitioned for war service and the varied work they were engaged in from carrying troops to acting as pigeon lofts.

Research-presentations

Of course, recruiting the buses also meant signing up the drivers for active service and they travelled with their vehicles throughout the conflict.

The letters in the T.O.T staff magazine gave a great insight into the LGOC employees and their families during the war. We learned about the soldiers’ relationships with their buses; they called them ‘old tub’ and ‘old girl’ in their letters home. This personalisation highlighted how buses were a reminder of home and how their crews had real concern for their vehicles, even referring to them as ‘wounded’.

B-type-bus-wreckWreck of a B-type bus at St Eloi, France, 1914 (1998/84919)

We were given a real insight into how buses played a part in the Balkans, moving troops from Salonika through the mountains in convoy. We learned about the importance of the buses in the war experiences of Commonwealth troops and the service of the 1.3 million Dominion soldiers. Back in London, buses also played an important part in how visiting soldiers experienced their leave in the city.

We also looked at the way LGOC workers were remembered. Remembrance is such a huge part of the First World War story. One B-type bus, ‘Ole Bill’, was nominated for preservation and was the only civilian vehicle to participate in the Armistice Day parade in 1920. It is currently on display in the Museum at Covent Garden. The T.O.T. magazine records the accounts of those whose names appeared on memorials in bus garages all over London after the war. Sadly, many memorials no longer survive.

Armistice-day-parade‘Ole Bill’ B-type bus B43 in Armistice Day parade, by Topical Press, circa 1920 (1998/75682)

The presentations gave a good overview of the journey we’ve been on, learning about these important vehicles and the contribution of transport workers to the war. We have had a great opportunity to look at the Battle Bus, 100 years on.  Now, full of enthusiasm and filled with cake before we left, we’ve all parted for the time being and are now looking forward to the launch of the exhibition that will celebrate the ‘old tubs’….the ‘old girls’.

BATTLE BUS RESEARCH VOLUNTEER PROJECT – SESSION Five and six

This blog is part of a mini-series of updates about the Battle Bus Research Volunteer Project. To keep up-to-date with all the latest programme activities, please visit the ‘Battle Bus’ section in London Transport Museum blog.

Session five and six 

In sessions five and six the research volunteers started to organise their topics into a narrative and think about the design of the exhibition, with the afternoons spent on individual research. Volunteer Sadie Arora describes what they got up to:

Week five began with us thinking about the key message we thought visitors should take away from the exhibition. We put a brief summary of our research topic on to a sticky note, grouped these into themes and arranged the themes into an order. This simple exercise was really helpful, as we could see a potential storyline emerge, check the key messages were covered, and identify areas with too much or not enough focus. We also found out where in the Museum our temporary exhibition would be on display – in Luke’s Skills Space on Level 1.

We were then treated to a brilliant talk from Sau-Fun Mo, Head of Design at the Museum. Sau-Fun gave us what seemed like the trade secrets of museum design departments, not only explaining the process of designing exhibitions, but demonstrating how vital design is in supporting the content, and the potential for design choices to subtly affect how information is conveyed.

After explaining design structure schemes, which link every task in a project to a clear progression, Sau-Fun detailed her work on two contrasting displays in the Museum: the Poster Girls temporary exhibition about female poster artists, and the new permanent gallery about tunnelling, called Digging Deeper. We learned how approaches differ according to the scale of the space and the objectives of the displays. We were also given examples of techniques that help inform and engage visitors, such as the graphic of small images running along the entire Poster Girls display to convey the wealth of the collection that the exhibition was drawn from.

Poster-Girls-Exhibition

Sau-Fun gave us some advice on the design approach for our project. As the space is a self-contained room, she told us to think about what the space outside could communicate to visitors, and what the immediate impression of the exhibition should be when entering the room.

In week six, we discussed ideas for the exhibition space. Although we won’t be dong the design work ourselves, we wanted to put our ideas into the design brief and were keen to have a go at applying what we’d learned from Sau-Fun. On the whole, we went for realistic ideas that would engage the audience. Smoke machines and animatronics in the skills room seemed unlikely!

Design-discussion

We felt that making a clear link from the Battle Bus itself, which will be on display in the main gallery on the ground floor, will be crucial. Ideas included a trail of logos, or handing tickets to visitors to ‘continue the journey’ upstairs. We weighed up whether it’s better to divide the room into sections, or have a central feature. We’ve been so taken with the T.O.T magazines that a suggestion to use them in the graphic design was popular, as was a large map to unite the different topics. A pigeon motif was suggested, to make use of the room’s height and engage visitors with the surprising sight of B-type pigeon lofts. Simple ways for visitors to interact were also suggested, especially children’s activities and a comments board.

Style brainstorm

As we approach the end of the project, it’s sinking in that our research must form a story worthy of a museum display. That is quite daunting, but we are also hugely reassured to know that the Design department will be able to work wonders with whatever we come up with.

Comeback every week to read the latest instalment on how our volunteers are getting on with their Battle Bus project.