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

Darjeeling Tea Tin

Do you ever have those designs you draw then set aside, not sure what you think of it, then come back to it a little while later ? That’s pretty much what happened with the Darjeeling Tin. I’d drawn up Earl Grey and Yorkshire Tea but wanted to do an Indian blend, so I wrote the letters and eventually came back to it. I had encompassed my thoughts of golden sun and bright mornings as a main palette but used very some very contrasting colours of bright red and green in the peacock feathers for vibrancy.

Though it follows the main template of the tea tin series, I wanted it to be more representative of Darjeeling. Darjeeling is a town in India’s West Bengal state, in the Himalayan foothills.

For me the tea has a light but complex taste, and brings a little sunshine to my morning.

Prints available on Etsy: https://linktr.ee/sofiabartonillustration

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/

World Heritage Day: Lindisfarne Gospels Art Trail

Excited to share I’ve completed the digital pack for the Lindisfarne Gospels Art Trail with Durham University Libraries and Durham Cathedral.

The pack contains multiple worksheets split into four sections. The first section is based on the different animals you can see in the gospels. The second section looks into patterns and interlocking techniques. This includes using borders and Celtic knots. The third section focuses on colour; working with drawing inks including using a bamboo pen as a quill. The final section explains how to go about the final artwork, choosing a letter from the medieval alphabet sheet, the geometric layout and how different participants can share tasks to complete the overall design. The work also involved making four videos for these four sections, full of information and tips on the four parts of the gospels. Exploring the style of the carpet pages, incipits, and portrait pages.

The trail itself will be with eight schools across Durham who’ll be using these resources along with materials to create their own collaborative artwork. Each school will be picking a letter, and the trail is due to go live in April 2022.

I cannot wait to see what the schools create and share the art trail details with you when it goes live.


Drawings by Sofia Barton. Lindisfarne Gospel Art Trail Digital Pack.

Producing Place Artist in Residence

Pleased to announce I’ll be the first Producing Place Artist in Residence for Monkfish Productions. 📣

The residency explores the area around the Victorian bandstand in Saltwell Park in the communities that live and visit there. Through community workshops, which will be open to key groups and the public.

I drew this little illustration of the bandstand after a visit last week. I used to live in Bensham (near Saltwell Park) a few years ago and was a frequent visitor. It is interesting to think about how many people pass, take shelter and sit under this bandstand. The collective stories and experiences around this landmark would be fascinating to learn about.

My idea for the bandstand is like the illustration, getting individuals and groups to draw or write about their experiences in the area and create a vine that wraps itself around the bandstand. Reflective of the wild life around it. A symbol perhaps of how people have used the park during lockdown, and how the perceptions of parks has grown more important with the need for outdoor space.

I’ll be updating the blog as I go along in the project, doing lots of workshops and of course displaying the artwork on the bandstand itself at the end.

Here is a link to Monkfish Productions CIO and information on the brilliant work they’re doing http://www.monkfishproductions.org/

Unfortunately the projects on a little break at the moment, but will resume in July 2022 with a weekend of wonderful workshops to create the beautiful creates and vines around the bandstand.

Workshop Training with MIMA, Tees Valley Nature Partnership, Borderlands & Teeside University

On Friday I went to Middlesbrough for an exciting workshop based around the conservation of nature. I spent a training day at MIMA where we explored ‘The Council of Beings’, a drama and arts led workshop to make individuals think about their impact on the environment as humans.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, part of Teesside University, is moving forward with the civic of reconnecting art with its social function and promote art as a tool for changing the world around them as a ‘useful’ museum.

It was interesting to see the workshop constructed in this manner, helping participants view perceptions from nature. An eye opening experience too with so many types of arts practitioners with different backgrounds.

Looking forward to seeing how this pilot develops and which areas/ groups would be connected.

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.

GemArts Diwali Workshops

GemArts is a dynamic arts development organisation – that profile and programme new and exciting culturally diverse arts, by creating and developing high quality concerts, events, festivals, workshops and commissions with regional, national and international artists across all art forms.

So it was really fun and exciting to create a shadow puppets workshop with them. I created the Rangoli colouring sheets and have done a previous Mandala making workshop. The team based in Gateshead library is super friendly.

Due to the pandemic it was a little tricky filming the making process, so I opted to use one of the lecture rooms at Ampersand Inventions (where my studio is based) The classroom setting proved useful for the instructions I was giving.

Have a look at their range of workshops, and take a look at the resources page. If you work with a school or group who’d like to get involved just send them an email 🙂

https://gemarts.org/learning/13/diwali-online-workshops

Making my first Matchbox Book

A video showing how a matchbox book was created. Artwork celebrates South Asian suffragettes and hidden figures in history ( part of the Narivad series) and a sneak peak into the makings of a matchbox book for the North East English Coast.

Materials used: Watercolour paper, ink, glue, black paint, white card, Stanley knife, ruler and scissors.