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Art on the Underground and BFI present films from the National Archive at Canary Wharf Screen

— December 2012

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Image 'Automatic Fare Collection', Courtesy Art on the Underground

Art on the Underground and BFI present films from the National Archive at Canary Wharf Screen

The final instalment of Canary Wharf Screen will see Art on the Underground collaborate with BFI to produce a season of films showcasing previously unseen footage, rare and restored film, and recent experimental works by some of today’s most well-known British moving image artists. The three-part programme, sourced from the BFI National Archive, will be screened in the ticket hall of Canary Wharf tube station from December 2012 – March 2013 and coincides with the 150th anniversary of the London Underground in January 2013.
Part 1, ‘The Artist’s Year in Nature’, explores the contrast between images of nature and the industrial concrete environment in which they are to be screened. Part 2, ‘Tales from the Underground’, comprises films showing the Tube at different points in its history to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. From the City to the Sea: A Century of Archive Film concludes the season with a double bill of feature-length creative archive documentary films that tell the story of the last century, and simultaneously tell the history of film itself.



Part 1: ‘The Artists Year in Nature’
BFI opens Season 4 of Canary Wharf Screen with a programme of films intended to evoke a sense of the great outdoors in an underground setting. Extracts from experimental films by the UK’s leading image artists will be combined with historical non-fiction documentaries that demonstrate the artistry of early film techniques. The compilation is organized as a calendar, progressing through the months and seasons in 12 films. Highlights include Derek Jarman’s arthouse drama The Angelic Conversation; a Shakespearian sonnet symbolizing February and St Valentine’s Day is narrated by Judi Dench. March is represented by one of the first examples of time-lapse photography, Percy E Smith’s Birth of a Flower, made in 1910.

Part 2: ‘Tales from the Underground’
Using rare and restored archive footage, ‘Tales from the Underground’ presents the London Underground throughout history. The collection revives the early silent era of feature filmmaking with the screening of Anthony Asquith’s Underground, 1928. Other highlights include instructional videos produced in conjunction with new ticketing and barrier technology in the 1960s, and Ralph Keene’s Under Night Streets, which documents the ‘fluffers’ who cleaned and maintained the Tube system 50 years ago. In January Café OTO will perform an experimental musical score to accompany the films live in Canary Wharf ticket hall.

Part 3: ‘From the City to the Sea: A Century of Archive Film’
A screening of two feature-length documentaries, spanning 100 years of archive footage, as well as a variety of recorded formats, ends the final season. Hand-cranked 35mm, 16mm, Super 8, videotape and digital film create a rich montage of colours and textures that express a range and diversity of ideas.

Award-winning director Penny Woolcock’s From the Sea to the Land Beyond is a lyrical portrait of Britain’s unique coastline. From two World Wars through to the modern age, Woolcock depicts the coast as a place of leisure and industry, yet also a wide landscape. The band British Sea Power have composed and performed an original score, creating a uniquely uplifting film experience.

London – The Modern Babylon, the latest film by Julien Temple, is an epic time-travelling voyage into the heart of his beloved city. Temple combines archive film and music to show how London’s subversives – musicians, writers, artists, dangerous thinkers and political radicals – have transformed the city into a global metropolis.

Jane Giles, Head of Content, BFI, said:

Film has the ability to transport us to other times and places, and we hope that the travellers passing through Canary Wharf and the London Underground staff who work here will get pleasure from this season, whether the films are glimpsed for seconds during the hectic rush-hour commute or watched for longer during quiet moments out of the day. 

Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art on the Underground, said:

We are delighted to be working with the BFI on this fourth season at Canary Wharf Screen. Coinciding with the momentous occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Underground itself in January, this is a wonderful opportunity to bring some rare and wonderful films about the Tube from the BFI archives to our audiences. The delivery of their season in 3 distinct parts allows us to see a tiny glimpse of the range of the BFI archive – from nature to Babylon – I think it will be a highly compelling 3 months at Canary Wharf!

Canary Wharf Screen is an innovative motion picture screening programme that was launched at Canary Wharf Tube station in March 2012, initiated and presented by Art on the Underground. The year-long project shows some of the best artists’ moving images, chosen by four of the UK’s leading film organizations and institutions, Film and Video Umbrella, Animate Projects, LUX and BFI.

Canary Wharf Screen will return for a second year with a new programme and collaborators in May 2013.
Canary Wharf Screen offers an insight into the UK’s leading filmmakers and film institutions whilst surveying the strength and vibrancy of London’s arts community through its artists, commissioners, distributors and programmers.

Designed by Sir Norman Foster and intended as the showpiece of the Jubilee Line extension programme, Canary Wharf is one of the busiest stations on the London Underground network. With footfall of some 40 million per year, Canary Wharf Screen has a potentially huge and diverse captive audience.

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