Nexus, the Tyne and Wear Metro operator, has announced a major new arts commission for the busy system’s £362m new train fleet.
The commission, grant-funded by Arts Council England, will for the first time in the world see artists selected to create large-scale new works for the interiors of 46 new trains, due to enter service from next year.
Nexus has launched an open call for established artists to put themselves forward for the opportunity. A final four will be selected to create permanent works to be enjoyed by the 35 million customers who travel on Metro each year.
The finished works will be displayed on each new train’s end walls, facing into the seating areas.
Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at Nexus, said: “We are seeking established artists for a unique opportunity to create new visual works for Metro which will be seen by millions of people as they travel in North East England.
“We believe this is the first time in the world a commission has been launched for large-scale permanent art within a new train, and it builds on our long and proud heritage bringing inspiration to local people’s journeys.
“The design of our new trains has been shaped by the customers who will use them through extensive consultation with more than 23,000 people. One key theme was that customers wanted to see the end walls brought to life, and with project grant funding from Arts Council England we are able to achieve that.”
Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England said “I’m delighted that we are supporting Nexus through our National Lottery Project Grants programme to commission artists to create permanent artworks for Metro trains.
“This is a great opportunity for a number of different artists to produce exciting work reflecting the heritage and diversity of the region which will be enjoyed by millions of passengers a year. I look forward to seeing how the project develops and to seeing the artwork on the trains in person!”
Nexus has a 40-year heritage in working with funding partners and community organisations to create art and cultural activity on public transport in North East England.
It has worked with train manufacturer Stadler and Arts Council England, which is funding the selection of four artists, the time they need to engage with Metro customers and their creative time.
Train builder Stadler will apply reproductions of the finished works to the cab walls during the manufacturing of the new Metro trains, within its existing contract with Nexus. The company had included scope for graphics to appear on the walls within its original bid, and the Arts Council England funding means that it will be artists who create these.
Artists are invited to submit applications to Nexus before 28 February 2022, with further details at New Metro train artwork - call for artists | nexus.org.uk
A final four artists will be selected to create works by the summer, with the first train arriving in North East England at the end of this year, and the fleet entering service from summer 2023.
Stadler is building 46 new Metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered up to 2024. They will be responsible for servicing and maintaining these trains for 35 years, and are also in the process of building a new £70m Metro depot at Gosforth as part of the new fleet project.
The new trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30%, will have modern features including improved internet connectivity, charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.