Category Archives: Events

Poster of the Week #21

This week’s poster is actually a pair of posters – Travels in Time on Your Doorstep and Travels in Space on Your Doorstep by Clifford Ellis and Rosemary Ellis, created in 1937 during the height of the Surrealist movement. This movement began in the early 1920s and encouraged the creative potential of the subconscious in all areas of the arts and literature, with visual art commonly appearing as a juxtaposition of imagery with the logic of reason removed. In keeping with this ethos, these posters promoted the use of public transport in a more ambiguous than literal fashion.

Surrealist art in advertising was a more subtle and indirect form of publicity and was adopted in a range of mainstream campaigns from fuel and transport providers to watch makers. Other notable works from this period within the Museum’s collection include those by English artist Graham Sutherland and prolific American artist Man Ray. It is worthwhile to note that across the Channel, during the same period, the famed Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dali was producing advertising for the French railways.

The illustrators of this particular set of posters, Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, were a husband and wife team who produced a number of posters for London Transport during the 1930s, as well as for Shell and the General Post Office. They also designed many book covers and worked for the Bath Academy of Art, an institution established to educate art teachers.

We were reminded of these posters while working on our new show Project X, an immersive theatrical adventure based on time travel! We don’t want to give too much away, but it involves the solving of cryptic clues and a finale that incorporates a time travel portal!

And as with all our Posters of the Week, prints are available to buy in a range of sizes and with optional framing from our online shop.

Spoken Word Workshop – by The Young Consultants

After a lot of planning and organising we hosted our very first event, Spoken Word, on March 3rd. The day was delivered by the two talented artists Dean Atta and Laila Sumpton.

We began with the amazing Clive Birch from the Royal College of Art delivering an introductory presentation. He began with his historical involvement in transport then led us into an insight of the Sense and the City exhibition. Finally he left us on an inspirational note of what transport will look like in the not so distant future.
With our creative juices flowing, we dived into several activities that drew out some amazing poetry and free writing from the participants. This continued into the afternoon where we finally created our group performances.

With the support from the Museum, we had members from the Young Volunteers programme as part of the audience that were also kind enough to give wonderful feedback.
Overall it was inspirational workshop that exposed the talent and creativity of young people in London.

With connections from Dean and Laila with Keats House we were invited to showcase the work we had created as a part of the Young Poets Forum open mic, taking place the following day. A few went along and had the confidence to perform alongside other artists.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the two days and are so grateful for all the participation and help from everyone involved.

Written by Gloria Gaspard and Izara de Nobrega (Young Consultants from LTM)

Debate: Shock the System – Between Public and Private

On Wednesday evening the Museum held a stimulating public debate on the issues surrounding our increasing adoption of technology for enhanced mobility, safety and communication, and the equally increasing sacrifices we make for such conveniences, namely our right to privacy.

Sam Mullins, the Museum’s Director, opened the debate with an introduction to our current temporary exhibition Sense and the City: smart, connected and on the move, which explores how technology is changing the way we interact with the city.[i] Broadcaster and author, Robert Elms[ii] chaired the panel which included the London Mayor’s Director of Environment and Digital London Kulveer Ranger,[iii] the Evening Standard’s Comment Editor Andrew Neather, [iv] the  and award-winning documentary filmmaker David Bond.[v]

Robert opened the debate with a summary of the ways in which we are surveyed in the UK today, noting that we are monitored by over 1.8m CCTV cameras, evaluated through our use of store loyalty cards, identified through face recognition and followed by satellites. On average we make 68 CCTV appearances a day, making us quite literally one of the most watched societies in the world.

Such surveillance has today thrown us headlong into what Kulveer Ranger termed a ‘Wild West’ of data, where the sheer volume creates a chaotic digital cacophony that is almost impossible to make any sense of. Despite this the desire by companies, organisations and government bodies to obtain this data is increasing exponentially. This is unsurprising as the collective accumulation of such data is slowly painting a picture of our digital psychology. Its value therefore can be equated with the California Gold Rush, with our information bargained for, sold-off and eventually melted down. In this metaphorical world, it will be the Social Media ‘merchants’ and not the Organisational ‘miners’ who will reap the greatest rewards.

During the debate it seemed evident that we must, willingly or reluctantly, handover such data and thereby sacrifice parts of our privacy in return for society’s benefits. But what do we sacrifice and what do we retain as sacred? This was the question which encompassed two main areas of discussion – ‘Dataveillance’, focussing particularly on CCTV, and Social Media.

Dataveillance
Dataveillance can be broadly defined as ‘the systematic monitoring of people’s actions or communications through the application of information technology.’ (Clark, 1988) Such surveillance is typified by the use of CCTV. One American member of the audience at the debate noted our obsession in the UK with the CCTV camera, viewing its presence as the prognosticator of an Orwellian state ominously over-obsessed with security. Indeed, it was discovered in 2009, through a Freedom of Information request made by the BBC to local authorities in the UK, that both the Shetland Islands Council (Scotland) and Corby Borough Council (England) had more CCTV cameras than the San Francisco Police Department, despite being among the smallest local authorities in the UK.  In London the borough which boasted the highest number of CCTV cameras was Wandsworth, with just under four cameras per 1,000 people – a number which exceed those of the police departments of Boston Massachusetts, Johannesburg and Dublin City Council combined. While exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that London has just under 8,000 CCTV cameras, which seems to put Paris’ count of just over 300 to shame.

But why this obsession? Is it because the British population, for the most part, still trust their governing body? David Bond noted in the debate that in Germany, due to its relatively recent experience with a dictatorial and ruthless state, the people are much more sceptical about relinquishing their privacy in return for assumed security. We do not have such a history and therefore view ‘dataveillance’ as intrinsic to our very security. Our level of trust is both variable and debatable however the truth may be that we are no more accepting of Big Brother than any other society or culture, but rather have allowed ourselves, as Kulveer noted, to simply ‘sleep-walk’ into the current system which has become invisible through ubiquity.

Social Media
Social media and privacy seem somewhat mutually exclusive terms, and yet in no other area has the defence of privacy (at least in recent times) been so highly fought over. One need only recall the various scandals to have plagued Facebook when it decided to change its privacy settings on the site, thereby affecting the visibility of users’ ‘personal’ information.

While many Facebook users – around 845 million of them – have several hundred ‘friends’ to whom they freely reveal their private lives, others see Facebook as a potential window to the world of employment. David Bond noted that Harvard graduates he spoke to did not tell the truth about their lives on Facebook for fear such information could be used against them, the ‘truth’ being of course that we are all flawed and make mistakes. Of course, the Harvard graduates here are not exceptional. We all ‘brand’ ourselves in some way within our own social media spheres, projecting a more refined, cultured or intelligent self. We want to believe – as much as we want to convince others – that we are indeed better than we are. However those who do choose (through naivety or for catharsis) to reveal such truths may grow to wish they hadn’t. Bond commented that he was able to outgrow his own youthful political beliefs and strange haircuts in a way his children will most likely be unable to.

With regards to how social media defines our information stream, Andrew Neather commented that the current Levenson inquiry would likely result in regulatory conditions which would curtail the freedom of the press, thereby making Twitter – unfettered by such ethical restrictions – a dominant force in news coverage. Attaining ‘the highest ethical and professional standards’ (as stated on the Levenson inquiry website) will likely not provide us with the meaty information we so desire and lead to the atrophication of traditional press coverage as we know it. As Lewis Carroll said ‘The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.’

Has the very notion of privacy now become synonymous with the more ominous notion of secrecy and, if so, will those wishing to maintain their privacy be increasingly viewed with suspicion…after all, if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear, right?


[i] This debate was part of a series of events to support the Sense and the City: smart, connected and on the move exhibition which looks at our past conceptions about what the future would look like, and asks questions about how technology might change our lives in years to come. The exhibition closes on 18 March 2012.

[ii] Robert Elms presents a long running radio show on BBC London 94.9.  The show features reports, discussions, and call-ins about Greater London, the history, architecture, geography, city planning, and language of London. He is also the author of several books including, The Way We Wore, which charts the changing fashions of his own youth during the 1960s to 1980s, linking them with the social history of the times.

[iii] Kulveer Ranger oversees a portfolio of responsibilities encompassing quality of life (including greening London, air quality and energy efficiency) and supporting the development of the hi-tech business sector across the capital on behalf of the Mayor of London. He is also responsible for cycling, including the cycle hire scheme. Kulveer was previously the Mayor’s Transport Advisor between 2008 and 2011, sitting on the board of Transport for London and chairing the Mayor’s River Concordat. Before joining the Mayor’s Office, Kulveer spent ten years in management consultancy. He is also a former Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party and was an advisor to two Shadow Cabinet members in Opposition.

[iv] Andrew Neather has been the Comment Editor, chief leader writer and wine critic of the Evening Standard since 2004. He writes especially on London, transport and environmental issues. He was formerly civil service speechwriter to prime minister Tony Blair and to home secretaries David Blunkett and Jack Straw. Prior to that he worked as a writer and editor for Friends of the Earth, the Labour Party and the US United Auto Workers. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge and Duke University, North Carolina, from where he obtained a PhD in US history. He lives in south London and tweets as @hernehillandy

[v] David Bond is an award-winning director, producer and writer of documentary, commercial and short film projects. He graduated from the Met Film School in 2004 and since then has completed various film projects exploring social and political themes.  Erasing David is David’s first feature documentary, and explores how much information is available about David and his family in the public domain.David put himself under surveillance and attempted to disappear, going on the run and hiring two private detectives to track him down. The results forced him to contemplate the meaning of privacy – and the loss of it. David co-runs production company Green Lions with his creative partner Ashley Jones.

The Land of Hopeful Commuters – Staff responses

We’ve had a fantastic response so far to ‘The Land of Hopeful Commuters‘ – thank you! So where do Londoners hope to be?  ‘Where the currency is trust and everyone is wealthy’, ‘Baking brownies blissfully by Battersea before brunch’ and ‘Right here, right now’.

If you haven’t had a chance to contribute yet you can do so online at: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/landofhopefulcommuters

Today I filmed some of the London Transport Museum staff (thank you, willing participants!). Watch their responses here: LTMuseumvideo on YouTube

The Land of Hopeful Commuters – Londoners, we need you!

‘Where do you hope to be?’

We’re collecting your responses to this question at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/landofhopefulcommuters, which will be used by the artist Agnès Poitevin-Navarre to create a new artwork for the Museum’s ‘Mind the Map’ exhibition!

I’ll be spending today in the Museum’s galleries with one of our volunteers, Darren, asking Museum visitors where they hope to be. Last week we did a survey of Museum staff to get their responses, which Agnès used to create the below example of how the final artwork might look. Here’s some of the Museum staff’s responses, just to get the creative juices flowing:

– Picnicking in the park this summer, laughing with friends in London Fields
– New York
– In a place where my achievements outweigh my ambitions

I’ll be posting updates on the project as it develops. Look forward to receiving your response soon!

London Commuters – WE NEED YOU!

In one week from today you’ll get the chance to contribute to a major artwork that will be displayed in our upcoming Mind the Map exhibition, 18th May to 28th October.

The artist Agnès Poitevin-Navarre is working with us to create a new map of London based on Londoners’ responses to a mystery question that will only be revealed next Wednesday 8th February in the Metro newspaper and on the Museum’s website. We’ll be collecting responses from Wednesday 8th February until Friday 10th February so watch this space! If you’d like to be one of the first to receive the questionnaire then register your interest by contacting michelle.brown@ltmuseum.co.uk.

Agnès Poitevin-Navarre

You can read more about Agnes and her work at http://www.agnespnavarre.com

Susan Stockwell – Mind the Map Artist

I recently posted about London Transport Museum’s mapping project with artist Susan Stockwell. I’ve been receiving lots of ticket donations – thank you! We’re still keen to collect as many transport tickets as possible and Susan has put in a special request for international transport tickets, so do get in touch should you like to contribute.

Here’s a bit more information about Susan’s work:

Susan Stockwell’s work takes many forms from small elaborate studies to large scale installations, sculpture, drawings and collage. It is concerned with issues of ecology, geo-politics, mapping, trade and global commerce. The materials used are the everyday, domestic and industrial disposable products that pervade our lives. These materials are manipulated and transformed into works of art that are extraordinary.

Stockwell gained an MA in sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London in 1992. Since then she has exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the National Museum of China in Beijing,Katonah Museum of Art in America and soon London Transport Museum. She has been awarded scholarships, grants and commissions such as a Visiting Arts Taiwan-England Artists Fellowship, an Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant and has recently completed a large public commission World for the University of Bedfordshire. She has taught extensively and taken part in residencies and projects in Europe, America, Australia and Asia. She is based in London, England.

You can find out more about Susan’s work by visiting her website at: http://www.susanstockwell.co.uk

Susan Stockwell’s recent work (detail), a map of the world made from used computer parts. Commissioned by Luton University, 2010

 

Tickets, please!

Do you have a stash of old tickets at home? Would you like to contribute to an amazing new artwork that will become part of a major exhibition?

 

London Transport Museum is working on an exciting new project with artist Susan Stockwell, who has been commissioned to create a map for next year’s exhibition, Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography.

Susan’s artworks often feature recycled materials, from computer parts through to used money, which are transformed into beautiful works of art. On this occasion Susan’s work will be made entirely of used transport tickets.

The artwork will explore the role of tickets not only as a ‘travel enabler’, but as a memory or symbolic representation of a journey. Tickets serve as a souvenir of people’s personal journeys; a memento from a particular point in time, filled with emotions and memories.

Have some transport tickets you’ve been saving? We’re busy collecting as many used transport tickets and associated memories as we can, which may be used in Susan’s artwork.  They can be any transport mode and from any country – winning prize for most unusual ticket so far goes to our Young Consultant, Elvis, and his elephant ride ticket from India. We’d also love to hear any stories or memories you might have related to your donation.

Should you like to contribute, please send your ticket(s), along with a paragraph of associated memories, to:
Michelle Brown
39 Wellington Street
London
WC2E 7BB
email: michelle.brown@ltmuseum.co.uk

If you don’t have any tickets, but would still like to contribute, comment or email us your favourite transport journey – from the regular and mundane to the weird and wonderful, we’d love to hear from you!

       

 

Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography

After much discussion and debate we now have a new title for our Journeys 2012 exhibition! Mind the Map: inspiring art, design and cartography will draw on the Museum’s outstanding map collection to explore the theme of journeys. We’ll be including an incredible range of maps, from diagrammatic and decorative through to digital.
The exhibition will be the largest of its kind – you’ll get to see previously unseen historic material and some fantastic newly commissioned works of art.
We’re also inviting our audiences to participate, both before and during the exhibition, in our exploration of what a map is, can and should be. The art commissions I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, including projects by Stephen Walter, Susan Stockwell and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre are examples of this.
Simon Patterson, The Great Bear (detail), 1992

World in Motion – Black History Month Event

On Saturday 1st October, London Transport Museum hosted a fantastic day of workshops to celebrate this year’s Black History Month. Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK since 1987. Its aim is to recognise the contributions of African, Asian and Caribbean people to the economic, cultural and political life in London and the UK.

So why does the Museum choose to celebrate Black History Month? Well, Transport for London is an incredibly diverse organisation, with nearly 30% of its workforce Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME). The TfL BAME staff network group are always keen to make Black History Month a focal point of their year, to promote the work they do and to celebrate the organisation’s diversity. For the past 3 years the BAME staff network group have worked in partnership with the Museum to deliver activities, with this year’s event being the biggest yet!

On Saturday we ran a storytelling session, telling families all about the amazing Caribbean bus drivers in the 1960s who played for London Transport’s Central Road Services cricket team. Being great sportsmen, the team won the cricket championship 26 years in a row, with lots of their players being awarded the London Transport’s sportsman of the year trophy. In the afternoon, current TfL staff came along in their uniforms and helped to deliver a hat making workshop. Using the fantastic Rastafarian uniform hat and a uniform turban from our collection as inspiration, families made hats to take home, and the event was a great success.

Now to work out what to do for next year’s Black History Month to make it even bigger and better…!