Larry Achiampong to redesign the London Underground roundel for the African diaspora

British Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong will reimagine the London Underground roundel for Art on the Underground, rethinking the symbol to “speak symbolically to various African diaspora identities”. For the project, Achiampong will create eight different iterations of the new look icon to be applied to 70 logo placements around Westminster Underground station – the station opposite the Houses of Parliament.

The symbol’s red and blue will be replaced with green, black and red, Pan African colours, to “reflect the land, the people and the struggles the continent has endured,” and gold to represent “a new day and prosperity,” explains Art on the Underground in a statement.

Achiampong’s design is also based in science fiction and traditional Adinkra symbolism, building on the artist’s concept of “sanko-time”, which at its core means “to go back for what has been left behind” and alludes to using the past to prepare for the future.

Achiampong was invited to reinvent the logo design as part of a commission that “seeks to consider the possibilities of alternate histories,” the statement continues. The project is part of the organisation’s programme aiming to look at the role artists can play in forming ideas of togetherness, in a tumultuous time for the UK ahead of the imminent EU departure.

“Situated at Westminster at a time of significant national debate on the country’s future, Achiampong’s commission imbues the familiar iconography of the London Underground’s logo with new meaning,” says Art on the Underground curator Eleanor Pinfield. “Across 2019, Art on the Underground’s series of commissions explore what it means to be ‘on edge’ and asks how artists can play a role in developing ideas of togetherness and belonging. 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.”

Achiampong says the project “opens up questions around history and contemporary society,” and celebrates “the innumerable stories that have passed through this city.”

Larry Achiampong’s Art on the Underground commission will be revealed on 14 November 2019.

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Written by Chiamaka Ekeh

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