Four major new permanent artworks are unveiled for new Metro trains

New Metro fleet artists - Bryony Simcox, Nocciola The Drawer, Sofia Barton, Sara Gibbeson
13 October 2022

Four major new artworks which are the first in the world to be commissioned for the inside of new Metro trains have been unveiled.

Works by four different artists will appear on permanent display throughout the 46 new trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro system in North East England as a new fleet enters service from next year.

They will become some of the most viewed and well-known contemporary art in Britain, seen by Metro’s 35 million annual customers on every journey. 

Between them the works represent diverse and contrasting perspectives on the communities and places Metro connects in and around the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland.

The four floor-to-ceiling works which will fill the internal end walls of each carriage are: 

•    Macro-Micro by Bryony Simcox.  Bryony’s large-scale collage is constructed entirely from hand-cut paper pieces, built up from images sent by local people in answer to the question “what makes this place glow?”. Pushing against the traditional glossy imagery used to promote a place, the work takes on a striking abstract form when seen from down the carriage, while inviting people to dive into idiosyncratic and personal details up close.

•    Blazing Trails by Sofia Barton.  Sofia’s work explores the hidden histories and trail-blazing personalities which have helped make North East England a vibrant and inclusive place to live.  The digital montage draws on influences including Sofia’s own Punjabi heritage and her upbringing in Newcastle’s west end.

•    Drawn to Life by Sara Gibbeson.  Sara, an illustrator and lecturer based in South Shields, spent weeks and months travelling on Metro sketching her fellow passengers and people at work and play in local town and city centres.  She has brought together and enlarged dozens of these intimate pen and pencil line drawings to overlap each other in a dense and intriguing final work in which the viewer’s focus continually changes.

•    North Sea Mermaids by Nocciola the Drawer. Hazel Oakes, working as Nocciola the Drawer, has created a digital mural celebrating the communities of women who come together to wild sea swim on the beaches served by Metro at Seaburn, South Shields and Tynemouth.  Hazel immersed herself in the research, swimming, chatting and filming with her subjects to create an inspiring, refreshing and empowering celebration.

All four artworks are on display at a three-day pop-up exhibition being staged at the NCA gallery in High Bridge, Newcastle, from Thursday, 13 October until Saturday, 15 October.  After this they will not be seen in public until they start re-appearing as Metro’s new trains enter service next year. 

Nexus, the public body which owns Metro, commissioned the four artists in collaboration with train manufacturer Stadler and with funding from Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme.

Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director for Nexus, said: “Bryony, Sofia, Hazel and Sara tell four very different stories about modern North East England, but between them have created art which will inspire, intrigue and entertain millions of Metro customers for years to come.

“We held an international competition, challenging artists to create original large scale works capturing what it means to live in our region today.  I could not be more excited to be sharing the finished works as we count down to the introduction of our new trains.

“Our customers have helped shape the design of Metro’s new fleet down to the smallest detail and one thing people asked for was art and imagery to be incorporated into the final carriages.

“Nexus has a long tradition in commissioning public and community art across our stations, but this is the first time in Metro’s 42-year history we have commissioned major works onto trains, and we believe it is the first project of its kind in the world.”

Jane Tarr, Director North, Arts Council England said “I’m delighted that we have supported Nexus through our National Lottery Project Grants programme for this project.

“And it’s great that there is an opportunity for people to see the artworks ahead of their installation on the Metro’s new trains. I hope that the artists’ work will spark conversations on and off the Metro about what it means to live in the North East and I look forward to seeing all four artworks myself.”

Toby Lloyd, NCA Gallery Manager, said: “NCA fully support Nexus’s commitment to commissioning public artwork, and we are proud to be partnering with them on this exciting new project. We look forward to seeing the public’s reactions to these fantastic artworks in the gallery before they appear on the new fleet of trains.”

Metro’s new train artwork – the Big Reveal is a free exhibition open from 10am to 8pm from Thursday, 13th October to Saturday, 15th October at NCA gallery, 31-39 High Bridge, Newcastle, NE1 1EW.


Blazing Trails by Sofia Barton

Macro-Micro by Bryony Simcox.

North Sea Mermaids by Nocciola the Drawer

Drawn to Life by Sara Gibbeson

© 2024 Nexus Tyne and Wear - Public Transport and Local Information.