Category Archives: Interviews

Forget-Me-Not

Discover our new installation and meet the artist behind the project

On your visit to the London Transport Museum, you’re sure to notice our new Forget Me Not display hanging beautifully above Battle Bus while it is on display at the Museum for the first time.

The new installation, created by artist Jacqui Symons was commissioned to remember the thousands of transport workers involved in the First World War and comprises over 100 flowers to represent the hand embroidered postcards that soldiers sent to their loved ones from the front lines.

Find out more about the project from Jenna and Kamiah from our Learning team who commissioned the project and the artist who created it:

Kamiah and Battle Bus underneath the Forget-Me-Not installation

How was the installation created?

Kamiah and Jenna: As part of the Battle Bus project, we commissioned artist Jacqui Symons to work with us on creating a new installation that would hang over Battle Bus. We wanted this work to be co-created with past partners and project participants who had been involved with Battle Bus over the 5 years of the project.

We held workshops at Lancasterian Primary School in Tottenham, Holloway bus garage and Walworth bus depot, as well as a drop-in session for staff and volunteers who had been involved with the project.

During these workshops, participants drew pictures inspired by images from our collection of the B-type buses during the First World War and the role of transport workers, both men and women, during this time. Some of the participants also then created a mono print of their picture. Jacqui used all of these illustrations to decorate the flower shapes that make up the installation.

What inspired you to get involved, Jacqui?

I have been making suspended installations for almost 10 years and I jumped at the chance to do one for London Transport Museum especially as the theme of the exhibition and the suspended installation really inspired me. I found the history of the Battle Bus and London transport workers through the First World War really interesting – I especially liked that women became mechanics and conductors for London’s transport during this time.

What was your inspiration for the piece?

The initial inspiration for the Forget-Me-Not installation were the embroidered postcards that soldiers sent back to their loved ones from the front line during the First World War. Many of these featured flowers and used Floriography (the language of flowers) to send messages of love, hope and remembrance. These flowers now make up the installation, recreated in wonderful colours and suspended in the shape of three flying postcards.

Working with groups and communities is a large part of my practice and it was important to me to include exact versions of people’s artwork within the final piece, so each flower features drawings created by workshop participants around the theme of remembrance.

How were the flowers made?

The flowers are made from laser-cut plywood and screen-printed with participants’ drawings.

Over several months, we worked with various groups to create drawings and monoprints using the theme of remembrance and the Battle Bus as inspiration. We got hundreds of great drawings and prints which were scanned in and exposed onto large scale silk-screens ready for screenprinting.

Once we had agreed on the final flowers to include in the installation, I drew them up on the computer and they were sent off to a laser-cutting company along with 12 large sheets of plywood that I pre-painted in 12 different colours. These cut-out flowers were then individually screen-printed with drawings from the creative workshops.

Do you have a favourite illustration incorporated within the flower design?

Too many to mention! I love them all really. Once you have worked so long with each drawing (scanning them in, creating layouts, optimising them for screen-printing, then printing all the designs) you become intimately familiar with them and appreciate each one for its character and style.

What do you hope LTM visitors will take away from seeing the Forget Me Not display?

The installation was created to remember the thousands of transport workers involved in the First World War, including over 1,400 individuals who sadly lost their lives. We hope that we can share this story with visitors through the installation and the Battle Bus, so that they are still remembered as the centenary of the First World War approaches.

We also hope that visitors will come away with an interest in and some newfound knowledge of the Battle Bus and London’s transport workers and an appreciation of the installation and the meaning of flowers.

Also, hopefully, it will inspire visitors to do some drawing once they have seen all the wonderful artwork on the flowers!

Come and see the Forget Me Not installation at London Transport Museum, to help us remember the important contribution made by London’s transport workers during the First World War, one hundred years ago.

battle-bus-remembrance

Battle bus will be participating in the civilian procession  – A Nation’s Thank You – on Sunday 11 November, to pay tribute to the sacrifice made by London bus drivers who left their regular routes to enlist and serve on the Western Front. Find out more on our website.

After Remembrance Sunday, bus B2737, known as Battle Bus, will return to London Transport Museum where it will be on display until spring 2019.

Poppies

Join us at the Museum on 10 and 11 November between 11:00 to 15:45 to learn more about our B-type Battle Bus which played an important role in the war effort. Then join us to make simple poppy pins as part of the remembrance weekend commemorations.

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Sense the City: Meet the Photographer Q&A – Danielle Houghton

This Q&A is part of the Sense the City Flickr Project. For background on this project see Sense the City – Flickr Project.

Tube story by Danielle Houghton
Tube story by Danielle Houghton, 2011

 

Tell us about the inspiration behind your photo
My inspiration behind the photograph was simply to capture the feeling and look of London.  As a visitor to London I always enjoy the vibrant diversity of people and the buzz about the place, I never tire of observing people.  I was quite taken with the ladies clearly at the beginning of their night out as they were having an animated conversation with lots of oohs and aahs.  In contrast beside them caught up in the technology we all enjoy was somebody whose look I thought was very ‘London’ I loved his ring shades and vest and I could not resist documenting that moment.

How long have you been involved with photography?
It first excited me as a teenager over 20 years ago and has remained a passion ever since.  In the years where I did not have access to a camera I immersed myself in photography books so I always stayed connected.

What equipment do you use?
At the time I took the photograph I used a Nikon D70 DSLR which alas is now in need of repair.  Currently I either use a Nikon Coolpix 5400 or a Canon EOS 1100D.

What inspires you?
In terms of who inspires me there are many photographers I follow and enjoy, to name a few – Martin Parr, William Eggleston, Stephen Gill, Rinko Kawauchi, the Street Photographers in In-Public and many contacts I have made through using flickr.

In terms of what inspires me, it is mainly the excitement I get from human observation and the thrill of trying to capture interesting people and unique, funny, or surreal moments.

What is your preferred subject matter?
Besides photographing my children my closest affiliation is to Street Photography, i.e. capturing strangers in a candid way in public places, though occasionally I am happy to shoot anything that catches my eye be it an animal or architecture etc. People in essence are unique and  provide endless opportunities to photograph. I find myself drawn to oddities and humor, connections and clichés.  I hope to reveal the fun and fascination and even sometimes sadness of life.  I try to present moments and coincidences in a visually pleasing manner.

Plans for the future?
To keep on taking photographs no matter what.  I would like to develop a few different series – for example I can’t wait to return and take more shots on the tube.  I also like the idea of taking random bus journeys and seeing what unfolds, maybe even leaning towards a social documentary series.   Ultimately I would like to build up a strong portfolio of Street Photographs and publish a book one day.

Describe your photography in one word.
Fun

Further information

http://www.flickr.com/photos/larking-about/

Sense the City: Meet the Photographer Q&A – Geoff Holland

This Q&A is part of the Sense the City Flickr Project. For background on this project see Sense the City – Flickr Project.

See Red by Geoff Holland, 2011

Tell us about the inspiration behind your photo
I had been at an Anti War rally which walked from Trafalgar Square to Downing St. I was on my way home.  I’d taken a lot of photos of the rally in the square and of the protest outside Downing St. Taking some photos of telephone boxes and tourists was a light relief. I took six shots in quick succession centred on the two telephone boxes. I love telephone boxes and struck lucky with the convergence of symmetry and colour.

How long have you been involved with photography?
I took my first photos with my Mum’s Ilford Box camera in the 1950’s. I learnt how to process black and white at Blandford Secondary Modern School and my summer job before starting an engineering apprenticeship in 1962, was camp photographer at Rockley Sands Caravan Holiday Camp near Pool in Dorset. Photography continued to be one of my pastimes for the next few decades and I have a lot of photos in the attic, but I only rediscovered the enthusiasm of those early years again, when I took up digital and four photogenic grandchildren came along. Shortly after I was introduced to Flickr which is a great outlet for my ego!

What equipment do you use?
I have a Nikon D40 (usually regarded as an entry level SLR). On the day I took ‘See Red’ I had bought a new lens, a Sigma 17-70mm at Spectrum on Tottenham Court Rd, one of the few real camera shops still existing. I also have a Sigma 70-300mm which I also bought at Spectrum, as I did my D40 and my first digital camera which was a Konica Minolta Z5 Dimage. I’m always thinking about ‘up-grading’ but find the D40 reliable and light and the Sigma’s extend it considerably too.

What inspires you?
I like to record things, capture moments, document what I see. To get a satisfying image, with symmetry and good proportions. Colour and light is key too and I am drawn to it. Walking home from work tonight the early evening below zero clear sky was brilliant and luminous and I thought, now if I had a tripod with me…… mind I also thought there are limits to the sacrifices I’ll make in the pursuit of my pastime, it was very cold! Flickr has also enabled me to share my photos with other enthusiasts and I like that too.

What is your preferred subject matter?
I love buildings, birds and butterflies and everything which lights up my life. To some extent it goes with the season, recently, I’ve been photographing a lot of ducks.  It also hinges on what I’m doing and where I am. I’m always on the look out for a photogenic subject. I mainly use natural light. I’ve no experience of specialist lighting and only recently learnt a bit about taking photos in low artificial light without flash.

Plans for the future?
Maybe, projects with a more focussed approach. I’m inspired by a series titled ‘faces and non faces’ by a photographer on Flickr who goes by the name of ThePhotoSchool (Natalie Clark).  In many of the shots taken in Camden Lock the main subjects are looking away from the photographer, but the excellent composition and colour and body language still makes for powerful images.  Maybe do a course or two when I have more time. Maybe a portfolio of prints……

Describe your photography in one word.
Rewarding

Further information

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mygazebo/

Sense the City: Meet the Photographer Q&A – Stephen Banks

This Q&A is part of the Sense the City Flickr Project. For background on this project see Sense the City – Flickr Project.

Better to just ignore him..., by Stephen Banks, 2011

Tell us about the inspiration behind your photo
I visited London back in December, partly to do a tour of the galleries and museums, but also partly to expose myself to better street photography opportunities. My home town in a place called Bridport, in West Dorset. Although it is a lovely place to live, it doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of buzz and spontaneity of a city like London.

How long have you been involved with photography?
Pretty much all my life (all 22 years of it so far). I had always been fascinated with whatever camera my mum or nan had, but never really got taking photographs until I was in my teens. My passion for photography came about during one general studies lesson in the first year of Sixth Form at The Blue Coat School in Liverpool. We were told to go out and take macro photographs and whoever came back with the best one won a prize. I hadn’t chosen art for either GCSE or A Level, so my result wasn’t very good. Needless to say, I didn’t win. But I was inspired. I could do something so fun and it was considered as work!

What equipment do you use?
The majority of my professional work at Watershed PR is done on a Nikon D7000 dSLR with a variety of prime lenses. I also do a fair amount of video work with this. Street photography is handled with my little Panasonic Lumix GF2 and 14mm pancake lens, although I have until recently ventured out with cameras such as a Lomo LC-A and my beloved Leica M3. The film cameras don’t see the light of day much any more, but I still keep a fair collection of them.

What inspires you?
Young people getting out there and giving it a fair crack. There’s plenty of creative kids around here in Bridport, but they either don’t have the drive to push themselves, or they succeed and leave the area because of the lack of jobs. I’m sure it’s different in the city, but with the job market as it is at the moment, I know I’m extremely lucky to be in a job I enjoy so much.

I also subscribe to around 50 creative website RSS feeds, so that keeps my creative brain ticking over in my spare time. Beats sitting in front of the television all night!

What is your preferred subject matter?
Candid street photography. I love seeing how people act on the street and I react accordingly with my street photography. Oddities in behaviour, juxtapositions, visual puns, all that jazz

Plans for the future?
Get a car and a house. Oh, in terms of my photography? Well I’ve just completed a time lapse starscape project in the local area called Bridport by Night: youtu.be/cbjeXWMNZ5s – as much as a video can do around here, it’s gone viral. So, once the buzz dies down about that (I set a target of matching the number of views with Wikipedia’s population count of 12,977 for Bridport), I will be working on a series of short films and trying to improve the first version of Bridport by Night with some new shots.

Describe your photography in one word.
Spontaneous

 

Further Information

Stephen Banks Website: http://scousebysouthwest.com
Stephen Banks Flickr Photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23048898@N06/
Stephen Banks on Twitter: @DorsetScouser

60 Second Interview with…Heatherwick Studio

Thomas Heatherwick

In January 2010, Heatherwick Studio joined the team leading the design of a New Bus for London. The project marks the first time in more than 50 years that TfL has commissioned and overseen the development of a bus built specifically for the capital. Read More…

Thomas Heatherwick established Heatherwick Studio in 1994. Thomas is an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA and a Senior Fellow at the Royal College of Art. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from four British universities – Sheffield Hallam, Brighton, Dundee and Manchester Metropolitan. He has won the Prince Philip Designers Prize and in 2006 was the youngest practitioner to be appointed a Royal Designer for Industry.

Here we talk with Heatherwick Studio about their work on the New Bus for London.

What inspired the design of the New Bus for London?
It has been more than fifty years since someone was last commissioned to look in a comprehensive way at the design of London buses. Heatherwick Studio has been given this task and has developed a new design that reflects the functional requirements and challenges of making a new better bus for London. The bus is particularly special because the design is specific to London. For the first time the ‘look, feel and styling’ of the bus has been designed holistically.  Some of the refinements of the design have resulted in the softening of the form, a return to a more calm and naturalistic usage of materials that echo qualities also identified with the Routemaster. The studio has also been keen to retain a sense of heritage in the design.

What was your biggest challenge in designing the New Bus for London?
The requirements of the new bus make for a slightly longer vehicle than current double deck buses. The studio’s main challenge was how to balance the design requirements with the practical and functional needs. To do this, the exterior form was carefully shaped to make a less box-like object.  The most distinctive aspect of the design is the asymmetric ribbon window with its glass that wraps around the vehicle, expanding at the front to provide the driver with clear kerbside views, and following the two staircases as they rise upward to follow movements of a passenger.

What is your favourite aspect of the bus?
The studio has been keen to ensure that the new bus would be an integrated piece of design with exterior and interior working harmoniously. As a result, there are many details which we took a lot of time getting right. For example, we designed a ‘New Bus for London’ moquette. The pattern is derived from the sculpted typography of the seat, a bit like a map; the contour lines are derived from the undulating shape of the seat.  The resulting rich pattern clearly denotes the individual seating positions whilst effectively masking day-to-day wear and tear. We also paid a lot of attention to the cab, and the driver experience too.  We have tried to give the cab a sense of specialness whilst also providing a highly functional working environment.

The old Routemaster was on the road for 60 years. How do you envision bus design in the next 60 years?
The studio wouldn’t want to begin to predict how a bus might look in 60 years time bearing in mind the technological advancements of the last 60 years. However, it would be safe to say that future technology will impact on any future aesthetic design in the same way the most innovative, latest hybrid and environmentally friendly technology has been taken into account in the current design which will be of great benefit to all in London.