Thursday, 27 June 2013


 84 x 52-5cm Limited Edition Poster
This is another recently-commissioned poster from the series of 15 commemorating the Tube's 150th anniversary. I saw this at Southwark station but they should all be at St James Park, Gloucester Road and maybe London Bridge station. Here's the story behind this particular picture. 

Olivia Wilson, the subject, writes:

'On the day I met up with someone from TfL (Transport for London) and we got on a District line train, Eastbound and when we got to Bow, Gillian Wearing got on. She didn’t talk to me she just took pictures as it was meant to be an encounter of strangers'.

Gillian Wearing writes:

'The Tube is full of strangers. We acknowledge this fact, knowing that we too are strangers to others. My project is to photograph a stranger. The person came forward via an open call advertised in the Metro newspaper and on the TfL website. I chose them through a raffle­ticket system, which did not reveal their name, age or gender. Until we met on a train and I took her photograph, I still didn’t know her identity, and she didn't know who I was either. For a brief moment, we were total strangers to each other'.

The result is intriguing. The subject looks wary yet composed, with a hint of the British tradition of ladies' portraits as displayed in galleries up and down the country.  By good fortune she (and her carrier bag) are sporting gentle but warm colours which are a perfect foil to the medley of blues and green in the carriage and the world outside. Although we know it cannot be, it feels as though she is sitting alone in an empty carriage, which summons up a faint tremor of vulnerability

Gillian Wearing is primarily a video and photographic artist, who won the Turner Prize in 1997. Her art is distinctive and memorable - she explores the disparities between private and public life by taking everyday circumstances all of us have encountered and suggesting new ways of reflecting both on established behaviour and what people do on impulse.
60 Minutes Silence 1996

One example is 60 Minutes Silence which looks like a life size photo of 26 police officers, but as the minutes pass the strain builds up. The men and women shuffle and flex - you realise it's a video of an hour of silence and stillness. The longer you look, the more individuality and humanity emerge. It's mesmerising. When told  'Time's up' one officer let out a yelp of relief you could hear all over the gallery.The art critic Richard Dorment commented in the Daily Telegraph 'The moment is like a dam bursting. His final cathartic joyful cry is one of the great moments in the history of recent art'.

 I use the Underground most days and love it; on the whole passengers do not make eye contact. But this young woman is breaking the rules. She looks straight into our eyes. She is present. She is attentive. She is a secret. 



  1. It's a fascinating photo and your comments spot on

  2. Thanks for that, Rosie. I love doing the blog but it's a great encouragement to know when someone else shares it. All good wishes, Yvonne