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

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.

Art in Action Trail Map for the BALTIC

It was so lovely being able to create a fun family day map for the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art ! It took a while and a couple of walks, and lush support/check from some Baltic staff who are familiar with the walk too to get it just right 🙂 You can colour it in and add your own doodles.

Here’s some photos of the walk from BALTIC to Staithes. It’s FULL of things to see like the art sculptures and of course the bridges on the quayside.

Go here for more info: https://baltic.art/art-in-action-trail

Fuel up with free hot drinks, juice and snacks in BALTIC Front Room at the beginning or end of your adventure.

You can begin this Art in Action Trail at BALTIC Gateshead (NE8 3BA) or Dunston Staiths (NE11 9DR). You can collect a free map from both locations.

From your starting point, follow the green route marked on your map. You’ll discover creative activities that can be accessed from a digital device along the way.

You can head to BALTIC to use the free WiFi before your walk. This will mean you don’t need to use your data to stream the activities.

You may want to bring headphones to hear the video and sound works on the trail.

The trail takes approximately 40 minutes (about 2 miles) to walk, plus time to stop, play and take part in activities. Hope you have fun if you try it out !

Nasty Women North East

I had the pleasure of being part of Nasty Women’s North East Residency with Lady Kitt at the start of September and it was such a great experience that will remain with me for a long time.
Not only did I meet likeminded creative people but was met with a collective experience with the common goals of feminism in the modern day world.

In London, for example, 78 per cent of the galleries represent more men than women, while only 5 per cent represent an equal number of male and female artists.
And beyond the statistics, women artists and curators face unique challenges, from the subjects they bring to light to the work they choose to present. As Tate Modern director Frances Morris has said, women have been discriminated against for centuries, and major institutions have typically failed to support the careers of women artists working on the margins.

You can imagine then, the small percentage of ethnic minority women who get representation. In BBC 4’s ‘Whoever heard of a Black Artist’ these points are highlighted about Britain’s hidden Art History.  [https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bcy4kd]

The residency itself consisted of support from Lady Kitt and Michaela who curated the experience at Praxis Gallery in Commercial Union House. The main objective was developing our original ideas for the submission of the Nasty Women Art Prize however the days were split with talks and one to one supportive sessions.

As part of this we listened to a talk with the directors of Vane Gallery in Newcastle, Paul Stone and Christopher Yeats. Who both provided some much needed insight on exhibiting in a globally connected gallery. Vane represents a group of critically engaged artists from the North East of England, across the UK, Europe and the USA through projects at the gallery and elsewhere. The gallery itself has a variety of workshops, events and performances on throughout the year.

Leanne Pearce also came in to talk about her breastfeeding paintings highlighting how mothers are sometimes unable to feed their babies and the bonding experience of parent and child. She also mentioned the origins of The Thought Gallery in Birtley and by the inevitable hard work involved to create such a place.

The residency itself inspired me to paint more fine art and delve further into the world of lost culture, history and potential of female artists.