Arts Management Policy and Practice Masters Dissertation – The University of Manchester 2012
Title: How does the Art on the Underground programme contribute to the urban development of London?
I spent a period of six months researching and producing my thesis focusing on Art on the Underground, a programme of contemporary art within London Underground.
A PDF on the final paper will be uploaded to the site soon but I have included a few materials from my research that were of particular interest but couldn’t be included.
Frank Pick was the dominant figure in the introduction of high quality art and design in London Underground in the early 20th century. With the support of Lord Ashfield, Chairman of the London Passenger Transport Board, it is impossible to understand any form of art in public transport without acknowledging the role he played. His story, that of an ‘impeccable busman’ as Winston Churchill dubbed him when dismissing him from his office, is fascinating, inspiring but also sad.
The absolute conviction of Pick’s commitment to high quality design set in motion the stringent design guidelines that cover all Transport for London today. This image, a life sized ‘test station’ constructed in a London warehouse, is incredible when we consider today’s computer aided design. While the photograph is long after Pick died in 1941, it is undeniably a direct influence of how good art and design developed in stations.
While art in underground transport networks has been used to further the objectives of that transport institution, there are varying examples which attempt to wrestle this. In my opinion Art on the Underground is successful because it seeks to avoid using art in decorative or stagnant way. Before his belief in art and design wilted later in life, Pick was hungry get the best artists to create publicity material as he rightly believed good art and design created a good environment. While Pick’s utopian vision for the network was doomed to failure, his legacy lives on. While the use of art in underground transport networks around the world is still a mixed bag in terms of quality and artistic purpose, Art on the Underground differs through its unique engagement model. Through strong curatorial practice, the programme works with artists to allow them to bring their own interpretations to the network, often resulting in social engagement projects. While this practice is not always conducive with Underground senior management, AOTU is the closest example that art in this environment has had to creative freedom. In an environment where priorities are high risk, art has to adapt and respond in the best way it can. By collaborating with artists, passengers, communities and arts organisations, the programme is original and one can only think, a contemporary continuation of Pick’s early vision.
Chapter & Verse Literature Festival 2011 at the Bluecoat.
The fourth Chapter & Verse festival at the Bluecoat presents a breadth of literature which will appeal to all those interested in the power of the word, spoken, written, reported and performed.
The Bluecoat will welcome over 40 writers working across the literature spectrum: novels, poetry, non-fiction, journalism, short stories, biographies, histories, children’s books, bookmaking, storytelling, comic books, spoken word performance, publishing and bookselling.
Over five days, there are more than 35 events as well as offsite projects, making this year’s festival as packed and diverse as ever.
There is much for audiences to engage with – listening to authors read and talk about their latest book, taking part in discussions, hearing about the newest developments in publishing in the digital age, experiencing new forms of performance poetry, participating in workshops, and much more.
April 2011 – Collaboration with Hannah Fray & Keiron Finnetty.
October – Chapter & Verse Literature Festival 2010 at the Bluecoat.
I am working on delivering this year’s Chapter & Verse Literature Festival, 13 -17 October. For a full programme of events and further information, visit the link below.
July – Rocktronica
I am have been working on bringing an interpretation of Rocktronica (below) a original illustration design by Michael Snowdon that he produced for Baa Bar, to three dimensional life. A fun if unique commission…
Rocktronica – made out of old speakers, recycled stereos, speakers, ducting, metal tubing.
Rocktronica by Michael Snowdon
Wednesday 12th May
Blankpages Liverpool Showcase
Blank Media Collective’s blankpages team descend on Liverpool for one night only for an evening of multimedia performance and interaction featuring Liverpool poets Cate Jacobs and Curtis Watts, and Liverpool artist Jack Welsh. Poetry will combine with site-specific found object installations and moving image work selected from the Blank Media Collective artists’ database. Blankpages Poetry Editor, Baiba Auria, will deliver a rare reading of her poetic works, and there’ll be a short poetry open mic at the top of the evening. Music by DBH and Darren Adcock, Manchester-based acoustic guitarists.
Waiting (2010) Found wood, tape, nails, glue
This is the site specific piece I installed in Leaf. Waiting was propped discreetly in the space near the entrance yet had a large physical presence at over eight feet tall. It was partly inspired by artwork featured in the May Blankpages online magazine. The work was propped on a pillar in the space and emphasis was on the linear dimensions of the piece and tension of the forced wooden pieces on the front.
Arena Gallery Friday 22 April – Saturday 8 May 2010
The Liverpool Illustrators
Rhonda Davies/Keiron Finnetty/Mary Lundquist/Phillip Marsden/Louise Morgan/Jane Spencer
Proof flyer courtesy of Mary Lundquist
Proof was the last exhibition under my tenure at Arena Gallery. The exhibition featured new work print works by the group including a collaborative mural outside the gallery.
TAXED No.10: Skillmarket
An exchange for practical skills and useful information
A TAXED initiative, supported by a-n The Artists Information Company and A Foundation.
Developed by artists in Liverpool in response to artists’ needs in a challenging environment for their practice, Skillmarket aims to provide artists with a unique opportunity to interact and swap their skills and knowledge, in support of their professional development.
Skillmarket; the 10th event in the TAXED series (Taxed meaning ripped off or stolen in Liverpool slang) taxes Hannah Hurtzig’s ever-changing Mobile Academy. The 11th version was presented at Bluecoat, Liverpool in November 2008 as Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge.
As part of the TAXED group, skillmarket was an ambitious event held at A-Foundation, Liverpool aimed at facilitating discussion and the exchange of ideas and skills via face to face meetings.
‘Collusion‘ – A collaboration between Rich White and Brychan Tudor.
Friday 19 March – Saturday 3 April 2010
‘Collusion’ installation view. Photographs courtesy Rich White.
Collusion flyer, Jack Welsh
‘Collusion’ installation view. Photographs courtesy Rich White.
‘a solitary cosmopolitan’ – Justin Eagle
Friday 19 February – Saturday 6 March 2010
For the first exhibition of the new year at Arena Gallery, Justin Eagle presented new sculptural and photographic work. It was pleasing to bring an artist of Justin’s caliber to Liverpool for the first time in over ten years.
‘a solitary cosmopolitan’ installation view
The families, the children, the working class- let’s do it. I’m ready!
(Notes to accompany Justin Eagle’s a solitary cosmopolitan)
The title of these notes is taken from Modernism: A New Decade’s opening track; or, alternatively, from The Style Council album that Polydor refused to release. Soul-influenced songs about Thatcherite Britain were one thing; a new Deep House direction was another. Yet time passes and meanings shift – twelve years later the record was deemed ahead of its time (and a digitally remastered version was finally put out on CD).
Justin Eagle’s a solitary cosmopolitan explores similar subject matter (meaning very British notions of culture and class, combined with a sideways take on eighties politics). The exhibition consists of two works, namely The Whisper (a photographic print of a public sculpture intended for a Homebase carpark), and Reconstruction of the Atmosphere (a Modernist-style mobile ‘decorated’ with a motif appropriated from hotel stationary).
Andre Wallace, the man behind the original Whisper, has been undertaking commissions for statues since the 1970s and his work can be seen across Britain – from Salford and Newcastle to London’s Docklands. His public sculptures are, in every sense, made for this – large, recognizable as art objects, and yet completely congruous with their no-style-style surroundings; and likewise the kissing couple were initially designed to merge, only in their case with a contemporary (i.e. capitalist) hotel interior.
‘a solitary cosmopolitan’ poster design, Jack Welsh
When displaced from their corporate surroundings however, their illicit implications become apparent. The whisperers (now smaller and indoors) appear to whisper about the kissing couple; while the kissing couple (now bigger and floating) consciously ignore the whisperers. The altered scale (too small to be Modernist Sculpture, too big to be occasional) creates a feeling that is simultaneously light and disconsolate – what Yeats might term a ‘lonely impulse of delight.’
Paul Weller (meaning a politically orientated suburbanite in immaculate casuals) looks out at us from 1989 every inch the solitary cosmopolitan – but what of his modern day counterpart? When stood in the (currently flat and pastel-coloured) Arena Gallery one is overwhelmed with strange nostalgia – both for a time when The Guardian reader might also have been the Socialist Worker reader; and for when an Italian coffee machine could signify the urbane. A Solitary Cosmopolitan/Modernism: A New Decade. I’d be ready to do it, if only I knew what ‘it’ was.
Susan Finlay, 2010
Wrong Love – A Foundation, Liverpool 13th February 2010
I was commissioned to make a deity to an icon of ‘Wrong Love’ for the one night event at the A Foundation. Taking into account the theme of the event and the anti-traditional vibe of the event, I made a shrine to a true icon of cinema Woody Allen. With his films such as Annie Hall and more recently, his fixation with starlet Scarlett Johanson, Allen seemed to be an ideal candidate for this. Another twist was his dubious relationships and his aging years, the images printed for the event reflecting an unease alongside the DIY nature of the build. All materials were found for this work.