To coincide with the opening of the new Tate Modern extension on 17 June, Art on the Underground and Tate Modern commissioned artist Michael Craig-Martin to design a “reimagined” London Underground roundel at Southwark station.
The roundel is pretty funky: I skipped down there this morning and quite a number of commuters on the platforms seemed to notice that something wasn’t as per normal, although your correspondent was (unsurprisingly) the only one taking photographs and that act seemed to cause more interest than the roundel itself. It is, however, only temporary: it will be taken down and replaced by the standard Southwark station roundels at the end of this weekend.
What makes this roundel interesting is its rarity: whilst there are several replicated along the platform walls, experimenting with the icon that is the London Underground roundel is not something that is sanctioned often. Since introduction in 1908 (and there is a full history of its design story here) there have been design tweaks in its gradual evolution, but it’s rare to find vastly different variations, especially at platform level.
I’ve dug out a few that I’ve seen: if you know of other intriguing ones, do get in touch with the team on Facebook or Twitter.
It will be apparent to most of you familiar with the Museum and this blog that posters are an important part of the Underground150 celebrations. It will also be apparent to regular readers of the volunteers’ blog that the vast majority of the Museum’s collection is actually kept at the Acton Depot. This is especially true for posters, with tens of thousands dating back over 100 years or so to the early part of the 20th century. Also at Acton Depot is a smaller collection of original artworks that were created in the production of the posters; however this numbers in the hundreds rather than the thousands.
Recently I was lucky enough to join a private tour of the two collections organised for the Friends of the Royal Academy, guided by two of the Museum’s volunteers, Tom Cavanagh and John Dodd. I had keenly anticipated the event, being very interested in the poster collection myself. I also expected some illuminating questions and conversation, given the knowledge and interests of our guests.
I wasn’t disappointed on either count. Both John and Tom gave well informed and interesting tours of both collections, visiting them in turn with a group of ten or so. They entertained us with an excellent knowledge and understanding of the collection, and were able to pull out relevant and interesting items that engaged the groups. I was particularly impressed with John’s discourse on lithography! Not all the original artwork is painted – the collection includes collage, mosaic and stencil as well as the water colours, oils, etc. that one might expect.
It was also interesting to note that none of the visitors had a particular interest in transport; proof (if it were needed) that the Museum’s collections can appeal to a surprisingly wide audience. And what better way to learn about it than in the hands of an enthusiastic volunteer?
There’s now less than 10 days left to see our ‘Mind the Map’ exhibition!
Along with an incredible range of maps from our historic collection, the exhibition also includes some fantastic newly commissioned artworks. This includes works by Susan Stockwell and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre, whose artworks were created through contributions from members of the public.
Agnes Poitevin-Navarre asked Londoners for their response to the question ‘Where do you hope to be?’, from which she created her amazing artwork ‘The Land of Hopeful Commuters’.
Susan Stockwell collected used transport tickets from people all over the world from which she created her beautiful artwork ‘Memento’.
Both artists will be in the Museum’s galleries this Saturday 20th October from 3-4pm. Along with seeing their artworks you’ll have the chance to speak to the artists about their approach.
On the 4th July volunteers and staff from London Transport Museum went along to Central St Martins’ new building at Granary square (behind Kings Cross station) to see their printing facilities and learn about the process of making a poster, from art work to the finished print.
Our volunteers offer tours to the public of the art and poster collection at the Museum Depot on a regular basis, and to enhance their knowledge on the collection we decided to arrange this visit to give them an insight into the design and printing process.
Everyone was welcomed and given an insightful tour of the building by staff which included the new galleries and printing facilities (ranging from Macbooks to letter pressing machines). Having the opportunity to view a collection of German posters was a big highlight and a chance to see how poster design in Germany influenced the development and graphic styles of London Transport advertising campaigns in the early 20th Century. We also each had the opportunity to have a go at using a letter press machine to create a text print commemorating the visit. It was a great experience and really showed how much manual work is involved in the process!
If you are interested in a tour of London Transport Museum Depot’s art and poster collection, contact Sam Clift at firstname.lastname@example.org
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’.
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!
On Wednesday 30th November one of our esteemed volunteers, John Campbell, gave a tour of the museum’s Depot in Acton. The tour was given to a group of students who are using our collection as a starting point for learning English and improving their confidence with travelling on London Transport. Having given tours on the museum’s collection for a number of years, this was the first time John had given a tour to a group to whom the majority had English as a second language. This made the tour quite different from the usual, as John became quite animated in describing the history of some of the vehicles, and regularly asked questions to the group to keep them engaged. The group became so comfortable with the tour that it turned very quickly into a Q&A session led by the group!
John also spent time showing the group our extensive art and poster collection, which everyone was very keen to see. As part of their course the group were studying a number of our posters, so it was a great opportunity for them to get a first-hand view of the works whilst being able to ask their guide any questions they had about the collection.