Metro Fleet Art

Alongside three other amazing artists I have won a unique commission to create major works for the interior of the Tyne and Wear Metro’s £362m new train fleet.

Metro will be the first urban transit system in the world to feature permanent art inside trains when the new fleet enters service next year, thanks to a project led by operator Nexus and funded by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme.

Four artists have been chosen following an open call for submissions, and each one will go on to create a major new work to cover the full height and width of carriage end walls, right through the fleet of 46 trains being built for Metro by global train manufacturer Stadler.

Nexus is sharing a video introducing the artists and exploring more about the project which you can view here:

Nexus received more than 120 submissions from around the world, in response to an open call for artists to respond to the theme of ‘place’ in North East England. The final four artists were chosen by a panel bringing Nexus employees from train operations and the fleet project with community arts professionals from the region. 

The four works the Metro artists create will be reproduced onto the train walls by Stadler as part of the manufacturing process at its factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.   The first new Metro train is set to arrive in North East England at the end of this year and will enter service in autumn 2023 after rigorous testing.

Nexus has ordered 46 trains from Stadler which will transform reliability and the customer experience, cut Metro’s use of high voltage power by at least 30% and allow a higher frequency service across the system.

Two works of art will appear on each train, at each end of the open-plan layout of carriages, with each work appearing 23 times across the whole fleet as a result.

I’m really looking forwards to the final design and have been researching key figures of the North East’s rich history to document on the illustration.

The commissioned artists from left to right:
Sofia Barton, Sarah Gibbeson, Hazel Oakes AKA Nocciola the Drawer, and Bryony Simcox

Be Canny Wild & Free

Delighted to have been asked to be part of Love of the Norths Exhibition in Spanish City.

I’d been noticing spring emerging and various insects emerging. After a little bit of research (and a wander down the local nature reserve ) I’d found out about various butterfly species that frequent the North East Coast. Can you spot and name them ?

Originally inspired by a design of a trio of butterflies on a vintage matchbox, these butterflies were displayed on fresh spring green leaves with a bright pink background. I’ve made this a little different to what I’ve illustrated in the past with a smaller font and a singular border. This one off A2 canvas will be available to buy during exhibition starting tomorrow 4th April 2022

Details:

https://www.fortheloveofthenorth.co.uk/

Zine Making at Betty’s Hut. With Monkfish Productions and Projects4Change

So I led a A Little Bit of Good In The World workshop with Monkfish Productions in February, where we explored the theme of citizenship with a Projects 4 Change group at Betty’s Hut in Cowgate.

During the workshop session we used zines to tell stories about the ways we all play a part in our communities, wider society and the world.

We used A4 and A3 sizes of paper, creating an easy to make zine that required no staples or glue. I then created some prompts for the group to use around the theme, letting it be flexible to everyones needs. The outcome was brilliant, and the unique differences made the zines very creative.

Art Matters Now – Home Away From Home

I was commissioned by Art Matters Now to create artwork around the theme of migration. I explored the many ways of transport immigrants can take, the landmarks of Sunderland and the hopes and dreams people have. Adding the flower of the area in blooming across hands reaching out for one another.

Reflected on my own history as a child constantly translating, dealing with racism and finding my own way to communicate through art.

You can read the description of the artwork below from https://artmattersnow.org.uk/home-away-from-home/

‘The idea for the ‘Home Away from Home’ publication project emerged from my experiences navigating a new identity as an immigrant in the UK. They were formed against a backdrop of a global pandemic: worsening xenophobia, little real-life contact and the further marginalisation of minoritised people. In these testing and precarious times, I am eager to create a collaborative platform for artists and writers from a minority ethnic or diasporic background—like myself—to connect with each other and communicate through creative expression. I hope that this can be a place where we can define the terms in which we wish to be seen and heard.

I was fortunate to be awarded Sunderland Culture’s 2021 Creative Development Fellowship, which enabled me to commission work from artists and writers as part of this publication. The project has evolved over time and now manifests in two forms: a physical publication and a digital VR exhibition that both presents and extends the ideas through multimedia works.

The first edition of ‘Home Away from Home’ looks into the fluid notion of ‘home’ and narratives surrounding it—from frustrations to contentment, shared vulnerabilities to collective hopes. The publication brings together artworks and texts by five contributors who have made Britain their home. These individuals are Claudia Obag, Dovile Lapinskaite, Marga RH, Sofia Barton and myself.
Readers are invited to reflect on how the ideas raised might relate to their own experiences of belonging and their sense of home. Is ‘home’ defined by a location? Or is it defined by people? Is having a home a right? Or is it a privilege?

— Christie Chan’

Unite – Sofia Barton

New Matchbook Series

I’ve always wanted to draw a matchbook in contrast to the matchboxes I do. This design was the first to pop out of my head as it were. The shy bairns get nowt print was quite popular lately so I’ve used the saying again, this time adding a LIT match and of course the Geordie icon – the magpie sitting right next to it.

To buy this print see my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SofiaBartonArt or to commission a design get in touch via the contact form.

NE1 Christmas Window

NE1 have had a great selection of Christmas Windows across Newcastle for 2021. Delighted to have been able to design this one for Northern Pride for the occasion.

View it at Groat Market in Newcastle upon Tyne where the old Evening Chronicle buildings are located. If you take a selfie be sure to hashtag #wearenorthernpride

Merry Christmas everyone!

Photo of a selection of NE1 Christmas windows at Old Evening Chronicle Buildings, Groat Market, Newcastle upon Tyne
Close up of The Northern Pride Christmas Window designed by Sofia Barton

Many thanks to Northern Pride for commissioning me and NE1 for all the Christmas windows across the city spreading cheer 🎄🏳️‍🌈

Autumn Vibes



I created a couple of different vibes for one of the most popular prints on my Etsy Shop. The very first matchbox design I did for Newcastle upon Tyne. The first special edition was the Pumpkin Spice just for October (Brought back by the power of popular demand) and the second is the Cranberry. Both are heavily influenced by the colour palettes of nature and the seasonal changes.

See more on: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SofiaBartonArt

Fishy on a Dishy

Following the nursery rhyme Dance to your Daddy, sometimes known as “When the Boat Comes In” is a nursery rhyme first published in 1849 in “Songs of the bards of the Tyne” by Joseph Robson. It became popular again in the 1970s when a modern version of the song was used as the theme song for the BBC serial “When The Boat Comes In”, so much that nowadays most people know the modern lyrics of the song.

This is where the inspiration came for this folk song on a fish tin !

BALTIC Open Submission: Exhibition Update

Many thanks the BALTIC and Emily Holmes for these images. As you can see the gallery is being set up for the re-opening of the BALTIC. This will be on 6th January 2021 in the light of ongoing regional and national restrictions. It seems a long wait until next year, but certainly gives us all something to look forward to. Tickets will be available to book online, ensuring your safe visit to the BALTIC.

My painting, amongst many other very talented creatives in the North East will be available to view up close in this extraordinary exhibition. Watch this space!

Co-Investigating for the Newbridge Project

Recently I was commissioned by the Newbridge Project to explore the effects of the pandemic and the lockdown.

It raised questions of economic depravity, depression, mental health, capacity for adaptation, and resistance to hardship. Responses were collected via conversations between friends, family and wider communities. These collated findings in a visual study of multiple conversations spanning 4 languages, 40 participants, survey monkey questionnaires with anonymous responses across Newcastle upon Tyne.


Whilst my first response was from the perspective of a documentary photographer (see past projects) I quickly came to realise the responses I wanted weren’t from simply observation on the streets, it was more emotive and through conversations with people. Varied groups of people created a diverse collective of data that I read through, and created illustrations from. I recorded these all in one moleskin sketchbook.

I wanted to explore the differences in each response, but what I found was they were more similar than anticipated. Family was the most important factor to all of the respondents, and though their lives had been impacted negatively by the corona virus one way or another – the outlook was very resilient.

What was interesting about the study was being able to see what my fellow other 8 investigators were doing. This difference in approach, creating and making has really made this approach unique by the Newbridge Project. More to follow on these soon 🙂

Here is the YouTube video showing the illustrations: https://youtu.be/Oi6P3m2tYMs

Dr.Death. Illustration by Sofia Barton (c)


The Newbridge Project:
Website: https://thenewbridgeproject.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenewbridge…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/N_B_Project