The creative initiative will see Metro as the first urban transit system in the world to include permanent art inside trains. The project is led by Metro’s operator Nexus and funded via Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme.
Once completed, the works of art will be featured in Metro’s new fleet, which is set to enter service in 2023.
An open call for submissions led to four artists being selected with each one now moving forward with the creation of a major new work which will cover the carriage end walls full height and width and will be included in all 46 of the new trains which are currently being built by train manufacturer Stadler.
A video which introduces the artists and reveals more about the project has been released by Nexus.
The four artists are:
- Sofia Fox Barton is a mixed media artist from Newcastle whose colourful artwork is heavily influenced by nature and her Punjabi heritage. Sofia’s work is also inspired by feminism and history and features themes such as vintage imagery, patterns as well as symbology. Working with a variety of media such as print, painting and digital art to create her eye-catching work and has seen her pieces exhibited at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art, Dockside Gallery, Pink Collar Gallery and Spilt Milk Gallery in Edinburgh. Sofia’s work for Metro will see an exploration of hidden histories throughout North East England celebrating figures from diverse and cultural backgrounds.
- Sara Gibbeson is a freelance illustrator and lecturer who lives in North East England. Sara’s work focuses on people, places, and everyday moments, she works both digitally and traditionally to create wonderful shapes and movement via hand drawn imagery and with restricted colour palettes which brings a further dimension to her work. Sara’s work with Metro hopes to capture a slice of life from across the region and will bring her sketches together to build an illustrated overview of the people and places she experiences as she travels with Metro visiting the communities it serves.
- Hazel Oakes who is better known as Nocciola the Drawer, is an illustrator and mural artist from County Durham. Hazel says she has a nomadic spirit and feels a sense of community and connection with women throughout the world. Her work has strong energy and features bright and bold colours often featuring female characters amongst vivid patterns and mark making. Hazel’s work aims to lift the spirits and inspire, empower and celebrate women. Hazel’s focus for the Metro project will see inspiration come from the communities of women who wild sea swim along the North East coast, celebrating their enjoyment of the beautiful coastline that Metro serves.
- Bryony Simcox is an urbanist, optimist and maker who studied architecture at Newcastle University. Working with hand-cut paper collage, Bryony draws from diverse and abstract imagery to create playful and surreal scenarios capturing architecture, travel and the human form. For Metro’s artwork, Bryony will develop a large-scale paper collage to capture the feelings and vibe of the places along the Metro. Working with photography collected from the community alongside archive imagery, magazine and book cuttings, her work will be bold and colourful at the macroscale with rich detail at the microscale.
Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at Nexus, the public body which owns Metro, said:
“We are thrilled to be working with Sofia, Sara, Hazel and Bryony, four very different artists but each of them an amazing talent with a unique vision for Metro’s new trains.
“The Tyne and Wear Metro will, we believe, be the first urban transit system anywhere in the world to commission major new artworks inside trains, the height and width of a train carriage, which will be seen by millions of people every year.
“Nexus has a proud history of commissioning public art over the 40 years of Metro, but it is a huge step forward for us to ask artists to work inside our £362m train fleet. Metro is part of everyday life in North East England, and we look forward to seeing four exciting new works which reflect on our modern, diverse region and its heritage in strikingly different ways.
“We have involved our customers very heavily to shape the design of our new trains. People were keen to see art and incorporated into the train design, and we are grateful to Arts Council England for the National Lottery grant funding which has made this possible.”
Adrian Wetter, project manager at Stadler, said:
“Trains built by Stadler are a fusion of our own expertise, drawing on the company’s 80-year history and the latest in technology and innovation, along with the specifications of the client, based on its operational requirements and the preferences of the local residents who will use them.
“Incorporating such features as the permanent art display on board these trains is a great pleasure for Stadler and a testament to the meaningful passenger consultation exercise that Nexus presided over.”
Carrying out award-winning engagement with Metro customers, Nexus and Stadler have created a wide range of features for the £362m new train fleet such as seat layout, handholds and the details of wheelchair and cycle and multi-use areas.
Customers have said that they wish to see imagery on the end walls of all the new trains as it faces into the passenger area and that connects with the local area.
Over 120 submissions from across the world were made to Nexus as they put out an open call for artists to respond to them of ‘place’ in North East England. The four artists selected were chosen via a panel which saw Nexus employees from train operations, the fleet project and community arts professionals from the region.
The artist will move on to their final pieces after a thorough immersion and engagement with local communities and places which are served by Metro.
Once the four works are finalised, they will be reproduced on the train walls by Stadler as part of the manufacturing process which will take place at its factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.