Pan-Africanism comes to Westminster – The Voice Online
NEW ARTWORK inspired by descents of Pan-Africa and their contribution to London has been unveiled to commuters in Westminster Underground station.
Larry Achiampong, the artist behind the recent commission, re-imagines the iconic London Underground roundel logo which has been a signpost for the capital for over 100 years.
Replacing its traditional colours of red and blue with the vibrant colours of Pan-Africa, the British-Ghanaian artist hopes to speak to the varying identities of the African diaspora and their often over-looked contribution to London society.
Labour MP Diane Abbott also spoke highly of the new design and told The Voice: “Larry Achiampong is a really exciting artist and this is a great initiative by TfL. I look forward to seeing more of his work and work by other artists on the Underground.”
Achiampong incorporates 54 stars arranged around the edge of the roundel, which represents each of the 54 countries of the African continent joined in unison.
He said: “I feel that this permanent work at Westminster centres itself as a place of representation, so that among the many that will encounter it, especially young black kids who pass it by chance can see it as a lifting point.
“I didn’t see many artworks in public spaces growing up that were saying this is part of you or you can connect to this; this belongs to you. It’s important to have a connection to and a stake in a place.”
Achiampong first re-imagined the London Underground roundel in 2019 as part of a temporary commission for Westminster Underground station that followed eight new designs being displayed across 70 sites throughout the station.
The new roundel will be a permanent fixture for busy London commuter installed above the main entrance to the station on Westminster Bridge Road.
The colours green, black and red reflect the land, the people and the struggles the African continent has endured, while yellow-gold represents a new day and prosperity.
While developing his project, Achiampong sais he was also inspired by Adinkra – a Ghanaian system of symbols created by the Akan people and used in textile designs, logos and pottery or incorporated into architectural features.
The symbols convey short concepts and proverbs that relate to everyday life and the environment. The roundel also relates to the artist’s concept of “Sanko-time,” based on the Ashanti word “Sankofa,” which roughly translated means “Go back and retrieve.”
Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries said: “Art on the Underground has a rich tradition of showcasing work by pioneering artists so I’m delighted that Westminster station will be a permanent home to Larry Achiampong’s bold, reimagined roundel.
“It is a fantastic illustration of London’s diverse cultural heritage – acknowledging the incredible contributions of the capital’s African diaspora – and will inspire future generations to continue redefining public art.”
Earlier this year, Achiampong presented the 35th commission for the cover of London Underground’s pocket Tube map, titled “What I Hear I Keep,” which featured another bold star and chevron design using the colours of Pan-Africa.
Achiampong explains that his artistic work on the Underground since 2019 is intended to “explore imagination and a sense of connectedness between the African diaspora, and to reconsider their often forgotten or erased contributions to the city.”
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said: “Following on from the powerful display of Larry Achiampong’s redesigned roundel in 2019, it is highly fitting that we are returning to the station with a permanent iteration that addresses the lack of recognition of diverse voices in public spaces of our city.
“Through the symbolic use of colours that represent countries of the African continent, Achiampong’s roundel reminds us of the many contributions to the city that are hidden, overlooked or erased, but which will now permanently be displayed in the very heart of London.”
Source: 1Africa Focus News