One Thing Leads to Another, Everything is Connected
Lily Hall traveled the Jubilee tube line to explore the recent Art on the Underground project, finding artworks from Stanmore to Stratford.
Dryden Goodwin, Linear, 2009. Commissioned by Art on the Underground, London Underground Limited, 2010, copyright 2010 Dryden Goodwin.
Art on the Underground recently held an exhibition at City Hall, which presented a new series of artworks commissioned for the Jubilee line, in celebration of its thirtieth birthday. You may have spotted a particularly distinctive poster advertising the exhibition around the tube lately: a single silver (Jubilee) line joins the text of a simple striking statement, One Thing Leads to Another, Everything is Connected. Taken from a limited edition print by Richard Long, which he handed out free to thousands of Jubilee line travellers last summer, this title enticed us to take a look at the exhibition when it opened in May this year.
As we approached City Hall on the opening night of the show, daunted by the rather beautiful but brutal glass helmet-shaped home of the London Mayor’s offices at Tower Bridge, the title One Thing Leads to Another, Everything is Connected loomed impressively large in the tube’s signature font across the ground-floor windows of the building. Inside, the walls of a spiralled walk-way leading down to the exhibition were illustrated with a history of the Jubilee line, from 1979 to the present day, neatly setting out a context for the curated display of commissioned works beneath.
Inspired by the show, which ran from May to mid-June, Art Licks went on the look-out for each of these works on-location along the Jubilee line itself. We spotted Dryden Goodwin’s work ‘Linear’ meandering across screens as we travelled up escalators at London Bridge; leaflets at Southwark contained works carefully crafted with words by MFA Art Writing students from Goldsmiths, to be read on the train between stations. We soaked up John Gerrard’s ‘Oil Stick Work’ at Canary Wharf and then returned to Goodwin’s portraits posted like enormous super8 film stills on billboards flanking onto South-West London streets…which, on that particular rainy day were full of suited commuters and passers-by with heads beneath umbrellas. The perfect time to head Underground towards Charing Cross for Nadia Bettega’s ‘Threads’.
From here, we travelled straight home to view an extension of one of the most brilliant works on the line: Dryden Goodwin’s ‘Linear’ is accessible online. If you’ve not yet been to ‘unlock’ Goodwin’s portraits of sixty Jubilee line staff on this site, we’d highly recommend you take the time to have a look now. The work is made up of a series of condensed, highly detailed, but as Goodwin puts it, necessarily ‘incomplete’ portraits of London Underground staff.
Drawn whilst his subjects are at work, driving the tubes, making tannoy announcements from a control room, or at paused moments in their day, Goodwin invites us online to watch over and listen in to audio & visual recordings taken with camera and microphone clipped to his sketchpad whilst he worked.
As the portraits unravel visually across the screen, we hear edited sound-bites from the conversations that took place between artist and sitter at the time they were drawn. Goodwin provides us with a very personal insight into his creative process and the increasingly intimate conversations that build up as he works. Whilst watching, you realise there are slight slippages between what is seen, what is heard and the picture that begins to build up of the strangers emerging behind each portrait. In this way Goodwin seems to have translated some of the tensions he himself encountered whilst making each of these works.
After taking the time to experience ‘Linear’ at its many sites across the Underground and later online, what’s most exciting to find is that the work somehow seems to take place most vividly in-between these locations, in your own imagination as you travel on along the tube and across London.
A Current Project Map, available on the Art on the Underground website, pinpoints each of the stations at which you’ll find commissioned artworks around the tube, so you can plan a journey to see specific works, or look out for them whilst you’re on the go.
Lily Hall, June 2010