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Underground art

6 September 2021

As young people travel from across London to study at Westminster City School, any going via Westminster Underground station may spot a prize-winning poster by one of their peers.

In 2020, our then Year 10 artists took part in a competition inspired by celebrated British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong’s work to reimagine London Underground’s iconic roundel. The winner of that competition, Westminster City School pupil Niaz, has now seen his design produced by a professional designer and exhibited at Westminster Underground station.

For this exciting competition, our young people worked with artist Shepherd Manyika and even took a visit to Westminster station, sketching in the surrounding area and responding to the given brief. They were asked to redesign an iconic London or British design in a way that changes its meaning and makes you feel more represented both culturally and personally. Niaz’s winning design was selected by Shepherd Manyika.

Niaz said: “My poster design is called ‘Equality’ because it represents people of all ethnicities and sends the message that we should be united. My idea was to redesign the London Underground roundel, using inspiration from coats of arms I’ve researched from centuries past. I used trains which I distorted using Photoshop and reflected, to create the circle in my design. The bar going through the middle is made of all the different tube lines. On either side of this are pigeons, as these became such an iconic part of central London and Trafalgar Square. A British Bulldog slouched on top of my design, representing how Britain’s success rests on the achievements of many cultures. 

“In the background of the poster, I have placed every flag on a low opacity, to compliment rather than clash with the design. The silhouetted footprints represent our path from the past into the future, learning from our mistakes. The slogan I chose reads ‘Colours don’t fight they create something new’ because it occurred to me so many things couldn’t be created without colour mixing, and there would be so much less variety and interest in life if we didn’t mix and respect each other.”

Ms Chance, our Faculty Leader, Art, added: “Our pupils watched the video of Larry Achiampong’s work and liked the way he was fighting for social justice and equality for all with his work. The idea that the colours of the roundel are very imperialist had never struck them before, so they looked at the colour in Achiampong’s designs and the Underground differently following the workshop.”

Congratulations Niaz!

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