Following on from my ‘On Broadway’ post, I looked at a station that’s trying to stop their customers from merely passing through without noticing what’s going on around them. Oval Station, like a few others on the Underground network, have a ‘Thought Of The Day’ board, where staff write philosophical and interesting quotes for their customers to reflect on first thing in the morning, or in the evening after a long day at the office.
Passengers only have great things to say about the quotes – one customer liked it so much he bought the station a book of famous quotes as a gift, to use as inspiration!
For the 2013 project, I’m going to pop along to Oval Station every day for a few weeks, photographing the board and collecting the images for the Museum. I’m also going to try and interview some of the staff involved about what inspired them to start the project.
Does your local station have a thought of the day board? What do you think about it? Share your own thoughts here!
Every day, millions of us enter our local station, scan our Oyster card, head down the escalator and jump on a train to work. Other than perhaps stopping to pick up a free paper, top up our credit, or check for service updates, most of us will whiz through our stations week after week without stopping to take in what’s going on around us.
As part of the celebrations for London Underground’s 150th anniversary, film maker Geoff Marshall and I decided to spend a day at Tooting Broadway station, from gates opening to close of play, capturing the comings and goings of life at an Underground station. Arriving at 4.40am to get some shots of the station with the gates still closed, we worked six shifts throughout the day, through the morning and evening rush hour, and capturing the last train leaving the stations and the gates being locked for the night. Staff at the station were fantastic, allowing us to access all areas of the station and explaining what was happening when, ensuring we got a real insight into everything that goes on in a normal day on the Tube.
The outcome of our day is a short film, entitled ‘On Broadway: A Day in the Life of Tooting Broadway’. It’s fantastic – Geoff did a wonderful job with the filming and edit, and I merely came up with the cheesy name! The film is to be added to the Museum’s collection and may even go on display at the Museum in the future. But for now we’ll aim to get the video up on here asap so that we can share it with you all! Watch this space…
I arrived at the Museum bright and early this morning to join the wonderful Vicky from Design and Kath from Displayways for the installation of new text panels and graphics in our World city walk gallery. It’s always exciting to see the outcomes of projects we’ve been working on go into the main galleries. I was particularly excited about this one as it has involved contribution from the public, the Museum’s Young Consultants, along with past project participants.
The World city walk enhancements are one part of our extensive Stories of the World programme. Earlier last year we ran a number of focus groups with members of the public to explore the programme’s development. As part of this we asked participants for feedback on the World city walk gallery. Our Young Consultants also reviewed the gallery and came up with a number of ideas for enhancements. In fact, this was one of the first curatorial projects that the Young Consultants were involved in so it’s great that they’ll get to see its completion.
In terms of feedback, people agreed that the gallery was visually impressive, but wanted further information about its key messages. The Young Consultants were keen to emphasise that some of the content going into the Museum’s galleries was developed in partnership with individuals and organisations from London and beyond.
So how did we do this? The World city walk gallery invites people to explore the similarities and differences in transport modes and usage across different world cities, whilst exploring the key message that ‘transport is the lifeblood of the city’. This statement is now one of the first things that visitors will see as they enter the gallery. Along with being printed in English, it has been translated into Japanese, French, Mandarin and Hindu to reflect the languages spoken in the world cities that feature in the galleries. The Museum is very keen to maintain links with people who’ve taken part in our projects and we asked some of our contacts to assist with the translations.
Along with an introductory text panel and prints of the city names that feature, we also have a text panel explaining that some of the content featured in the galleries was co-created with the Museum’s audiences. We’re looking forward to installing a number of outcomes from engagement projects over the next few months.
It’s all about ‘mapping’ and ‘journeys’ at the moment, people. One of the artists working with the Museum to explore these themes is the wonderful Agnes Poitevin-Navarre.
Agnes has previously created a number of artworks based on French writer Marcel Proust’s personality questionnaire, devising a series of questions to ask members of the public. For example, ‘what is your greatest achievement’ and ‘what is the most important lesson life has taught you’. Answers were collected from people of all ages and walks of life, and plotted onto maps to highlight patterns of responses related to people’s achievements and pearls of wisdom.
Earlier this year Agnes met with the Museum’s Young Volunteers, working with them on ideas for a yet to be revealed new questionnaire. The results will shape Agnes’ creation of a new map of London that reflects Londoners’ individual paths on a pedestrian, geographical or poetic dimension.
This is where you come in. Want to have your journey mapped? I’ll soon be posting details of Agnes’ questionnaire and would love to hear from you! Once again, stay tuned…
Want to know more about Agnes’ work?
Originally from France, Agnes moved to England to study fine art, firstly in Canterbury to do a BA and then at the Slade School of Fine Art, in London, to complete her MA.
Agnes’ art work is concerned with notions of identity, challenging perceptions of cultural, linguistic and racial categorisation. Her art practice investigates the decoding of these issues in a plurality of media [maps, prints, hair embroidery pieces, indoors and outdoors site specific installations]. The Proustian series of maps is a marvellous platform for the artist to interact with the audience. By recording their responses, she is creating historical documents that reflect the many facets of a city and the richness of individuals experiences that breathe life into it.
In one year from today London Transport Museum will open a major exhibition for 2012 that will draw on our outstanding historic map collection, exploring the theme of Journeys. Along with historic maps we’ll be displaying some fantastic newly commissioned artworks by artists such as Stephen Walter, Simon Patterson, Susan Stockwell, Jeremy Wood and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre, with more to artists to be confirmed.
Want to be involved? A number of these projects will be shaped using public content, meaning that you’ll be able to contribute directly to the artworks. Stephen Walter, for example, is currently asking for your comments for his Subterranean Map of London.
There are some seriously exciting projects underway and we’ll be posting regularly on their development. Stay tuned…
TfL is made up of some fascinating departments, with the Lost Property Office being up there as one of the most interesting. To get a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes, and to learn more about what happens when an item is left on London’s Transport, I spent the day making a documentary for the Museum’s collection with film-maker Geoff Marshall. We explored the stores, watched as staff took customer calls and spoke to them about their experience of working in such an unusual environment.
In 2009, the LPO received a whopping 184,969 items of lost property, ranging from single gloves, laptops, umbrellas and school bags, through to toys, glasses and thousands of mobile phones. When we went down this week the store room was packed with items, all clearly labelled and neatly arranged in numbered zones. The staff work very efficiently – we watched as a call came in from the customer point upstairs, requesting an object be sent up for return. It took the staff less than a minute to locate the object and send it up in the goods lift, making for happy customers.
The LPO store also houses some more bizarre objects which have never been re-claimed, including false teeth, a grandfather clock, a stuffed fox and some prosthetic limbs. There were also single shoes, crutches and walking sticks, which make you wonder how the owners didn’t notice they had left such objects behind!
Staff gave us a run-through of what happens to an item, from it being left on a bus or Tube to its hopeful return to the owner. Items are normally handed in by members of the public to TfL staff, or are found by staff when checking the vehicles during their shifts. These items are logged with the details of where and when it was found, and are then collected by TfL post vans and delivered to the LPO. Here they are checked and logged onto the computer system, and labelled to LPO’s high standards, before being sent down to the store room for safe keeping. Items are kept for 3 months, in which time it’s hoped the owner will have made contact with the office and come to claim it back. If not, the items in good condition are donated to charity or sold to help fund the running of the office. Charities across the world have benefited over the years, with donated items ranging from clothing for the Salvation Army to sports equipment for charities in Africa.
Geoff and I had a great day and will showcase the finished film soon – watch this space! And if you’ve lost an item and want to reclaim it, check out the LPO’s website for more information http://www.tfl.gov.uk/contact/871.aspx
Our ‘Overground Uncovered’ exhibition, which only recently ended, was packed with community content created by groups and individuals from up and down the East London Line extension. One of the boroughs which we worked with was Southwark, where a wonderful group of elders from the Rotherhithe area made a collaborative ceramic artwork for display in the exhibition. The group, Rainbow Arts, meet once a week to take part in art based activities, and are always keen to learn new techniques and build partnerships with other organisations. Art in the Park, a Southwark based arts charity, provided the expertise and materials for the project.
Each of the participants painted a ceramic tile, which depicted an aspect of the local area that they enjoy or are proud of. The final piece was therefore a celebration of all things great about the Rotherhithe area, advertising it to those who came to the exhibition and to those who use the new Overground line.
The artwork was on display for a year at London Transport Museum, and when the exhibition came down at the end of March I decided to return the artwork to the group so that it could be displayed in their local area. Rainbow Arts are now in consultation with the local council to see if it can be installed either at the new library, due to open later in 2011, or at another public site near their centre. So if you’re ever near Rotherhithe, keep an eye out for this lovely piece of community art.
Recently I spent a fun afternoon ‘zip, boing, splating’ with the youth group at the London Chinese Community Centre in Soho. It’s the first of our sessions exploring Museum collections with people for the Stories of the World project. We are working with the group to explore their stories in relation to an object in the Museum and hopefully shaking up the displays a bit – in the best possible way of course. People were getting into the acting activities and we made four amazing freeze frame pictures featuring Museum objects. I was particularly impressed by one of the participants’ Eros impression! Now they’ve got to pick just one to work on further. With 10 young people, all with their own opinions, to narrow it down to just one object could be a tough challenge. So far it seems neck and neck between a 1931 Dinkel poster featuring the Trocadero and the Gibson ticket machine. Watch this space!