New Metro train artwork

Arts Council England

Four artists have each won a unique commission to create major works for the interior of Metro’s new train fleet.

Metro will be the first urban transit system in the world to feature permanent art inside trains when the new fleet enters service next year, thanks to a project led by Nexus and funded by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme.

Four artists have been chosen following an open call for submissions, and each one will go on to create a major new work to cover the full height and width of carriage end walls, right through the fleet of 46 trains being built for Metro by global train manufacturer Stadler.

The four artists are:

•    Sofia Fox Barton, a multidisciplinary artist from Newcastle whose bright artwork is heavily influenced by nature and her Punjabi heritage. Inspired by feminism and history, her style often consists of vintage imagery, patterns as well as symbology.  She works across mediums such as print, painting and digital art, with her work exhibited at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art, Dockside Gallery, Pink Collar Gallery and Spilt Milk Gallery in Edinburgh.

Sofia’s work for Metro will explore hidden histories across North East England and celebrate figures from diverse and cultural backgrounds.
•    Sara Gibbeson is a freelance illustrator and lecturer based in North East England. Her work captures people, places, and everyday moments, using both digital and traditional tools to create lively, hand drawn imagery with a limited colour palette.

Sara’s aim is to capture a slice of life from around the region, bringing her sketches together to create an illustrated snapshot of the people and places she observes as she travels by Metro and visits the communities around it.
•    Hazel Oakes, working as Nocciola the Drawer, is an illustrator and mural artist from County Durham. She has a nomadic spirit and feels her sense of community with women anywhere in the world. She specializes in bright, bold, colourful artwork that combines female characters with lively patterns, all with the aim to uplift, inspire, empower and celebrate women. 

Hazel’s artwork will be inspired by the communities of women who wild sea swim along the North East coast. It will be a celebration of them enjoying the beautiful coastline that Metro serves. 
•    Bryony Simcox is an urbanist, optimist and maker who studied architecture at Newcastle University.  She works with hand-cut paper collage to draw together diverse imagery into playful and surreal scenarios referencing architecture, travel and the human form.  

Bryony will create a large-scale paper collage which distills the feelings and vibe of the places along the Metro. Combining photography gathered from the community with archive imagery and magazine and book cuttings, bold and colourful at the macro scale and rich with detail at the micro scale.

Nexus received more than 120 submissions from around the world, in response to an open call for artists to respond to the theme of ‘place’ in North East England. The final four artists were chosen by a panel bringing Nexus employees from train operations and the fleet project with community arts professionals from the region. 

The artists will go on to complete their final works through immersion and engagement in the communities and places which Metro serves.

The four works the Metro artists create will be reproduced onto the train walls by Stadler as part of the manufacturing process at its factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.   The first new Metro train is set to arrive in North East England at the end of 2022 and will enter service in autumn 2023 after rigorous testing.

Two works of art will appear on each train, at each end of the open-plan layout of carriages, with each work appearing 23 times across the whole fleet as a result.

Watch our video below introducing the artists and exploring more about the project.



***This call for artists is now closed***

Nexus, the public transport body for North East England, is delighted to announce a unique opportunity for artists to create original and permanent site-specific work for the interior of a new fleet of trains for Tyne and Wear Metro. This is made possible by Arts Council England project grant support.

The Brief
Four artists will be commissioned to create their own works, inspired by the theme of ‘Place’ and through engagement with local communities, to fill the passenger-facing end walls of our new trains. Finished works are to be provided for vinyl reproduction no later than Monday, 27 June 2022.

Eligibility and Fees
This commission would suit artists with two years or more professional experience and is an opportunity to develop your practice through a high-profile public art project. We welcome artists working in a broad range of mediums and from diverse backgrounds.

A fee of £2,800 for each of four commissions will be payable. This includes a minimum of one day required for community engagement. We will meet agreed costs for material, reproduction of works for display and reasonable expenses. We welcome collective submissions but there is a set fee for each commission. 

28 February 2022: Deadline for preliminary submission 

14-18 March 2022: Shortlisted artists presentation and final selection (A separate fee of £200 for preparation time plus £50 for attendance is payable to shortlisted applicants)

4 April-6 May 2022: Public engagement window (one day per commissioned artist on a date to be agreed with them)

27 June 2022: Provision of finished works for reproduction.  These can be provided as digital files or through photo reproduction, depending on the format of works. Nexus will meet agreed additional costs required for reproduction.

Further information
About Nexus and our new train fleet
Nexus is the public body which operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, one of the UK’s busiest urban transit systems used by more than 30 million passengers each year.  Nexus has a contract with train manufacturer Stadler to design, build and maintain a new fleet of 46 trains which are still under construction but will enter service from summer 2023.


The new trains will feature original art on the two passenger-facing end walls of each train (see images above), a total of 92 walls.  We have Arts Council England project grant funding to commission new and original site-specific work, of a scale and dimension to fill these walls.  We believe this is the first time in the world artists have been offered the opportunity to work in this way.   

The selected works will be a permanent feature of our new trains, with an anticipated lifespan of at least ten years, and will be seen by millions of passengers in that time.  Four commissions will be awarded in total.  These will be distributed as vinyl reproductions throughout the fleet at random, in a vinyl format which allows them to be maintained over their intended lifespan.  This reproduction means we can consider visual art drawn from a wide range of media and multi-media. 

Our arts heritage and ambition
Metro has a proud heritage investing in public art for stations since the system opened in 1980, which you can learn more about here.  Art on public transport has the potential to delight, surprise and stimulate customers during their journey, and speaks of the pride we have in providing sustainable transport for our whole community.

The design of a new fleet with distinct end walls creates an exciting opportunity to include artworks in the inside of our train carriages for the first time. We have carried out extensive public consultation on the design of our trains, and this demonstrated an enthusiasm for artworks which resonate on the theme of place. 

Metro serves the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland in North East England and their surrounding towns and suburbs – diverse and vibrant communities with rich heritages drawn from many cultures, and a breadth of environments from busy city centres to countryside and coastlines. Our theme of Place is an opportunity to represent our communities as they continue to evolve and we welcome submissions that reflect this.

Further considerations
Metro is a public transport system, not a gallery space.  Art on transport engages and inspires people as they encounter it, sometimes unexpectedly, as part of their daily lives.

The work you create should utilise the whole space indicated in black above (detailed technical drawings are available).  We have provided a broad theme to encourage a diverse field of proposals but you will need to consider the following questions:
•    Selected artworks will be displayed within busy trains, on end walls which include a solid door and bright yellow mounted handholds which must remain prominent to the visually impaired. These must be taken into consideration along with the completed interior design and seat positions and fabrics.
•    Nexus reserves the right to make a final decision on display of any final work.  For operational reasons we are unable to accept works which use graffiti.
•    Although we are a transport operator, we encourage artists to think beyond the narrow context of the work being sited on a Metro train, while exploiting the unique nature of the space.

We are seeking artists who will create their own works inspired by the communities we serve.  Part of the creative process will include engagement to understand, for example, how passengers engage with space as they travel, and perceive the environment around them.  Commissioned artists will be required to devote at least one day to engagement within their agreed fee, supported as required by a Nexus Stakeholder Officer and taking place on a date or dates between 4 April and 6 May 2022. 

These commissions form part of a wider manufacturing process being delivered to strict contractual deadlines.  For this reason completed artworks must be supplied to Nexus as digital images in AI, EPS or PDF formats for delivery to Stadler no later than 27 June 2022.   

Display, publicity and future rights
The new Metro fleet will enter service gradually from summer 2023 to early 2025.  When all 46 trains are in service each commission will appear 23 times spread evenly across the fleet.

The Nexus communications team will issue publicity at different stages of the arts project including media releases, images and video, which artists will be required to participate in.

Nexus will, ahead of this time, arrange a launch event and exhibition at a public location close to Metro to profile the commissioned works and artists.  We also hope to display reproductions at a station. 

Artists will be supplied with an agreement which outlines the following:
•    Nexus will retain limited copyright of commissioned work for its display within Metro stations and trains in perpetuity, and also associated non-commercial corporate use.
•    Artists will retain the right to benefit directly from commercial reproduction of their work for sale.

What we expect from a preliminary submission
In making a preliminary submission you should provide:
•    A written idea, supported by sketches or other visual material as you see fit.
•    Full details of the medium in which you intend to work, with a production budget including materials.  We welcome applications across a wide range of media, providing the finished work can be translated to a completed digital format for reproduction at appropriate scale, and you should address how this will be achieved within your submission. 
•    Evidence of relevant experience including up to four examples of previous work and commissions, and an up-to-date CV. 
•    Details of your availability to complete this commission within the timeframe set out above.  

Our requirement is for commissioned artists to create a single work, but we are open to proposals which include a series of images within the stated fee.

Making your submission
If you want to make a submission you first need to register your interest by emailing  We will then be able to send you detailed technical drawings for the wall on which your finished work would appear.

When you come to make a submission, before the deadline of Monday, 28 February, you can do this in one of two ways:

Online:  You can email your application to If your application includes large attachments, please email to request a link to our large file transfer system.

By post: You can make an application by post.  Please do not send original artworks, but do provide copies of supporting material and previous works, or links where we can see your work displayed. You can send submissions to:
Fleet art commission
Nexus House
St James Boulevard 
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AX

If you have any questions at this stage, or need further assistance making an application, please email

Selection process
Preliminary submissions will be reduced to a shortlist by a panel comprising arts professionals, Nexus and Stadler, and representatives of customers and Metro employees.

Shortlisted artists will be asked to attend a final selection process, between 14-18 March 2022, for which a set fee of £200 for preparation and £50 for attendance either in person or by digital link will be payable.

Artists will be asked to present their idea further and answer questions about their idea, experience and intended production process.

***This call for artists is now closed***


New Metro train artwork - meet the artists

© 2022 Nexus Tyne and Wear - Public Transport and Local Information.