Financial types have had it pretty rough these past few months (you know, except all the massive bonuses and that) but with the first signs of spring weather here in London comes possible hints at a cultural rapprochement. Because this week Canary Wharf Screen will beam a selection of artists’ films into their heartland – on a giant screen designed by Sir Norman Foster at Canary Wharf underground station to be precise. Ahead of the launch, we spoke to Tamsin Dillon, head of Art on the Underground, to find out more, and we’ll be previewing the five films all this week…
The 2012 programme will be split into four seasons, curated by some of the UK’s leading film organisations. The Film and Video Umbrella is overseeing the initial run, follwewd by Animate, LUX and the British Film Institute (BFI).
Hi Tamsin, how did this project come about? Why is Canary Wharf such a good location for this?
The site at the end of the huge ticket hall at Canary Wharf station has never been an area that passengers pass through but it’s spacious and empty so seemed ideal to consider for a project. It has been used for temporary events from time to time in the past.
We used it for a major project for the first time when we presented John Gerard’s digital piece, Oil Stick Work, there as part of the Jubilee line series of projects in 2010/11. Projecting this work large-scale had a dramatic presence in the station and, once the presentation was over, it was clear that we should continue to use the site.
The site at Canary Wharf is ideal to present these kinds of works- I don’t think there is another such place on the entire Tube network that would be so ideal. Additionally, we have a naturally large audience of the 1000s of people who pass through the station every day. Many of them work there but there are others who live and shop there so we are very interested in being able to present the programme to such a diverse range of people.
It’s also an easy part of the network to reach from other parts of the City and is very close to other busy stations – such as Stratford – which is important as we also want to attract audiences to come specially to see the film programme.
What were you/Film & Video Umbrella looking for when selecting the films?
For each season, we have invited the organisation concerned to propose a concept or theme and a programme of works to be presented that have been commissioned by them and/or are part of their archive. In each case the proposals have led to discussion with us to arrive at the very best programme.
In the case of FVU, the proposition was to present new or recent works that addressed public, particularly urban, spaces and the diverse ways that people use it and behave within it, whether alone or in groups. This idea relates well to the site itself, an underground station that many people constantly pass through, and its wider context, the highly modern, urban environment of Canary Wharf.
What are you hoping the response will be?
We want lots of people to notice the programme, to come and watch and enjoy the screenings – and also to let us know what they think!
We hope to have a positive response of course – from the whole range of people who are important to us, people who use and work on the Tube, art and film critics and commentators – and we want to know if this brand new venue for seeing artists’ film in London is as great an addition to our programme as we think it is!
I’m very excited about it so I’m really looking forward to the response and to the new discussion and debate it might evoke.
The poster has been designed by Wolfram Weidner, using stills from the selected films to make up the iconic Canary Wharf skyline.