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/

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.

Local Maker’s Market at Fenwick’s Newcastle

With the past couple of years being different due to the pandemic I hadn’t been trading at markets so was delighted when the opportunity arose to get a table at Fenwick’s Local Maker’s Market. It’s been a fantastic incentive for local business’s to trade at the reputable department store and I’m grateful to be one of them. I signed up for 4 weeks until the 22nd December- perfect for the run up to Christmas.

Selling at Fenwick’s are three variants of magnets (Newcastle, You’re Amazing and Shy Bairns Get Nowt). Sets of white Framed Giclee prints from A6-A3, Frameless Giclee prints, Tiger mugs, a brand new 2022 calendar, Sustainable screen printed tote bags and various greeting cards.

Greeting Cards with trademark Gold Envelopes next to a bowl of magnets
Selection of framed prints, Frameless prints and mugs
My first calendar. Features the best selling Matchbox artwork

My Etsy shop is now closed until January, which makes this location ideal for anyone wanting any artwork or gifts for Christmas this year. Set on the ground floor it’s easy to get to, and has had an interesting mix of local businesses.

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!

The Great North Elmer Parade: Wild in Art


Creating The BRIGHTSIDE Elmer ….
I really don’t post that often ! Most of my processes go onto Stories on Instagram, sometimes YouTube but never really stay updated with a blog.

So I hope you’ll forgive me when I update the Elmer posts in one go, telling you all what happened the next few weeks after the preparation.

PROCESS

So sanding down the coarser texture of the fibreglass was a bit dustier than I planned, I ended up using cardboard to both protect the floor and to give my knees / feet some padding as I knelt for the harder to reach places. Despite being advised on the demo we had from Wild in Art to sand and to varnish from the top of the Elmer to the bottom, I decided to go from the trunk to the tail.

Similarly with my painting I started with some lush vibrant blues from Windsor and Newton professional range on the trunk. The little video I made hardly doing the mixing any justice. I love layering my paint on quite thick ! So the tones I got from the paint stood out and went on like almost a thick cream. All the paints I was using were good quality, however there were certain luminescent paints available in Daler Rowney System 3 that looked interesting. So I continued this way with different paint for the brighter green, a massive mistake! The paint started bubbling !!!! Initially I thought it had been the temperature of the room. The summer heat and little ventilation, added to the thick application could have played a part! I returned another day having to resand and reapply the primer.

Changing the paint and redoing the main body gave me a better perspective of how I wanted the texture. In the original drawings I had used a watercolour Ink, but this gradient effect was harder to achieve on the 3D object and in acrylics. So after applying a gradient of colours over the Elmer, I added another layer of another spectrum of tones in a feather like pattern. I kept to the original design for the eyes but added a Lumiere True Gold. The leaves around the eyes accentuated the effect.

My curator James came back to me during the process and asked if could change the Earl Grey part of my drawing and take out the tea cup. This area in the middle of the elephant at this point was a blank space. I modified the original design and added more of Grey Street, and left out the tea references. This was in all to make it more suitable for any sponsors who wanted it.

I then added a super black, using Stuart Temples Black 2.0, partly as it’s super easy to apply and is almost as fluid and manageable as a posca ! I would then go on to use Poscas anyway to modify some areas (like the fine lines on the Grey Street design and the henna pattern on the feet) It was important for me to keep the vibrancy in the original drawings I submitted for the Elmer proposal. The proposal was called Earl Grey, but got changed to Brightside due to all the colours.

After doing this and getting confirmation to go ahead, I sealed the areas with the posca using a water based spray sealant (Less fumes for a communal area and it dried quicker!)

I’d come back after this to tweek Brightside a little, before adding the tin of varnish I got from St.Oswalds.

So far I’ve only had to go and repair Brightside once so far He got a little chipped on moving to Eldon Gardens. I think I woke up at 5am on a Saturday morning to go for 6am before the shopping centre was open to the public ( and to let the varnish I’d use dry) I had to take my toddler with me, so lucky he’s so well behaved and loves helping.

SPACE & COMMUNITY

I used the communal place from St.Oswald’s Hospice at Quorum Business Park. That was so nerve wrecking going in! I had happened to meet another artist at her day job when she recognised the address for the Elmer Artists form at the Post Office. I went and Instagram stalked her almost immediately and had a chat at the  was demo.It was this artist I went over to and she gave me a hand moving my Elmer onto some cardboard. She ALSO lent me some primer. I find it quite lucky I’d met someone so nice early on. It makes a great difference being able to socialise and be friends with fellow artists. In fact all of the artists I met in the communal space where all friendly, and it was great seeing so many people from various backgrounds being part of this art trail for the hospice. Naturally we all looked at each others designs, fascinated by others skills & techniques. I remember getting an ice-cream lolly and cuppa on separate occasions from other artists too. It makes a difference when you have quite far to travel to a communal space, and when you go at random times being a full time mother. I do hope this atmosphere we had on the Great North Elmer Parade was on other Wild in Art campaigns.

The team at St.Oswalds were so supportive. Often running about doing a million things at once. This small team really made an impression on me, I had no idea the AMOUNT of hard work that goes into projects such as these with fundraising, finding sponsors, creating an app and more. Yet they still had time to engage with and make sure every artist was okay, getting their Elmer done and providing the varnishes we all needed at the end.

I’m REALLY enjoying looking at all the photos of the Great North Elmers on social media. The amount of joy they bring to people is so heart warming.

EVENTS

I really enjoyed going on BBC Newcastle’s radio show too ! With the amazing Tamsin Robson (who by the way is the easiest person in the world to talk to) This kinda happened before the Elmer trail AND my exhibition at For the Love of the North in Whitley Bay (I’ll post about that later) It was a great way to talk about the trail on local radio and let more people know about what’s happening in the North East.

The opening preview night was really when all the large Elmers where together and could be viewed as a herd before being moved to their respective places across the North East. The art trail itself going on until the 1st November 2019. Where you can see Brightside displayed proudly in front of its sponsor Leazes Financial in Eldon Garden. 

There’s a farewell event on the 9th and 10th November at Newcastle Racecourse !

Finally, all the Elmers will be auctioned on the 12th November at Newcastle Racecourse to provide the much needed funds for St.Oswald’s Hospice.

Sunnycon

I’ve made some new pieces for Sunnycon later this month. They’ve centred around Aggretsuko and Studio Ghibli so far. Although anime isn’t my style I love the atmosphere that is Sunnycon. Some film art posters will be out too.  The audience, though a lot younger, provides a new perspective to the usual market fairs I go to. My usual North East designs don’t really fit in, but the animals and fantasy designs are hits. Less anxious about this year too since I’ve already done it. Also helps the organisers are super friendly !

If you’re about why not come along. I’ll be at the artist’s bay with a new layout /banner and (hopefully) dressed as Kiki.

Also SO glad that my Instagram following has gone up to 1,500, for someone who doesn’t actively work on that stuff it does feel good to get support off people liking my work. A little bit of encouragement sometimes when you’re in doubt about a sketch, or a particular theme, goes a long way. It really opens up the creative flow and has allowed me to be more comfortable working on ideas outside of my usual zone.

Great North Elmer Parade 2019: Wild in Art

Despite not having blogged for some time I’ve decided to start up again to log this exciting project. It was SUCH an exciting surprise to be selected for the Great North Elmer Parade 2019 after submitting a design earlier this year.
As many of you know, I work part-time, taking snippets of time here and there when I can. This makes it more difficult in some ways to get my work out there whilst I’m looking after Alexander (my toddler) full time. Working with the support of the Prince’s Trust really helped this year and although it had its downs I’m glad I kept going and submitted that design. As they say, ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ !
It was a pleasure meeting such creative individuals and the team behind Oswald’s Hospice, WildArt and Great North Elmer last week.
I cannot wait to post more updates as I complete the design and will let you know the name of the elephant soon 🙂

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