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.
On Saturday 19th November two of our volunteers, Tom Cavanagh and John Dodd, delivered the first official tours to the public on the museum’s art and poster collection at the Acton Depot. Visitors had the opportunity to take a peek at the extensive collection of works held in the art and poster stores, and learn all about how many of the works were made, why they were commissioned and how they came to be in the London Transport Museum’s collection. The art and poster stores are usually closed off to the public, and can only be accessed whilst either being supervised by staff or as part of a tour. Access to the Museum’s art and poster collection has been growing steadily this year, with a number of Poster Parade exhibitions at the museum in Covent Garden and regular features on the museum’s blog. And now we have tours of the collection too!
Throughout this year a number of our volunteers have spent many days being trained by our Safety and Citizenship, Visitor Services and Curatorial staff. One of the great things about volunteering with London Transport Museum is that our staff have a very hands on attitude, which allows our volunteers the opportunity to work closely alongside staff giving them a great insight into any tasks and projects they get involved with. Our volunteers have worked very hard researching their content, practising delivering and ironing out any small creases to the point they are feeling very comfortable with giving tours to willing visitors. Our next scheduled tours will be in January 2012, so make sure to book a ticket while you still can!
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.
We now have our first completed Mind the Map artwork! London Transport Museum is commissioning a series of new artworks for the exhibition, including the Lost & Found project where by an artwork is created from lost or found transport maps and explores the theme of ‘journeys’.
Paper artist Claire Brewster visited London Transport Museum to search through our large collection of discarded maps, including some sourced from TfL’s lost property office, from which to create her artwork. Claire selected a series of maps from 1987, the year that she moved to London and significant to her own personal journey. You can find out more about Claire’s work at her website: http://www.clairebrewster.co.uk
I recently visited Claire at her studio to interview her about the commission. You’ll have to wait for next year’s exhibition to see the final artwork but for now you can get a behind the scenes look at its making, including details from Claire on her approach and influences: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyjwZV_jN2k