A Collaborative Project with Art on the Underground
Our productive collaboration with Art on the Underground continued this year with our involvement in a major public programme to celebrate Labyrinth, a series of 270 artworks by Mark Wallinger installed at every station on the Tube. To underpin this high-profile commission Art on the Underground organised a series of events and projects that encouraged TfL staff, the tube-travelling public, and young people to engage with these new, permanent additions to platforms and station ticket halls.
Three ReachOutRCA workshop leaders led a total of 12 day-long, innovative workshops in schools across London. The results were displayed in highly public exhibitions and posters on the Tube network
The project began with a planning day where workshop leaders, AOTU staff and RORCA staff got to meet each other, and to meet Mark Wallinger. This was a great opportunity to see everyone start the project feeling part of a well-informed and excited team. The day felt like a real investment in the project and in the artists leading the workshops.
Participating schools were selected through an application process. Care was taken to ensure that schools were selected from a wide range of boroughs, particularly those at the ends of the Tube lines where access to cultural organisations may be limited.
Six of the workshops included a visit to a Tube station. A number of children at each school (and in some cases all in the class) had no awareness of the locality of their local station. For these children the visit was a particularly new and exciting learning experience. To enhance the experience, each artist gave a brief to their students before setting out to the stations: Beth’s students were asked to pay particular attention to sound; Anne’s to pattern, shape and texture; Holly’s to the journey experience itself. The observations the groups collected informed the work they made back in the classroom.
A Sense of Place – Beth Atkinson
'I thought Art was just about making, but Art can be lots of things, like sound.'
Student, age 9, Fairlop Primary School
Beth’s work uses songs, stories and folklore to uncover a sense of place. Beth began her workshop sessions with playful music games to encourage the students to experiment with sounds and hone their listening skills. She then used the mythological tale of Theseus and the Minotaur combined with folklore from the Underground to create sound works with the students.
Art and Mapping – Holly Graham
'I enjoyed meeting Holly and finding out about what artists do. I want to be an artist.'
Student, St George’s RC Primary School
Holly’s work is concerned with memory and game-playing. Using creative writing as a starting point, students were encouraged to use memory and imagination to formulate a journey, real or imagined. Echoing the decorative tiling adorning Tube stations and drawing on Holly’s artistic practice as a printmaker, each student made a screenprinted tile to represent their personal journey. When placed together, these tiles created new narratives, with the potential to change and evolve with each new arrangement.
Signs and Symbols – Anne Harild
'I learnt how to use your surroundings as inspiration.'
Young participant in Labyrinth workshop
Anne’s work uses photography, film, drawing and sculpture to transform space and create new environments and structures. Anne began her sessions by encouraging students to explore their surroundings and consider ideas connected to signs and symbols. Using frottage, linear drawings, collage and sculpture, students created a new vision of their personal world and the journeys they make within it.
Throughout the project new artworks were created by the school students. The results were displayed in a series of posters and exhibitions at Tube stations including Canning Town, Charing Cross, Earls Court, Hainault, Hounslow East, London Bridge, St James’s Park, Canary Wharf and Southwark. The projects were also documented with an online exhibition and a documentary film, both available to view on Art on the Underground website.