A new large-scale public art commission at Brixton Underground Station is set to be unveiled on 17 November. The mural, called ‘Endurance’, was created by artist Shanti Panchal and will be on view for one year.
This work will be Panchal’s first public artwork since a 1993 tiled mural for the London Borough of Harrow.
The mural is the sixth in a series of commissions at Brixton Station, following works from Joy Labinjo, Helen Johnson, Denzil Forrester, Aliza Nisenbaum, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. As part of the programmes, the artists will respond to the diverse narratives of the local murals painted in the 1980s, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural-making.
‘Endurance’ in particular is a community portrait that observes continued resilience and interdependency. Shown in the image are three scenes of Londoners; the people include an artist, an NHS worker, a waiter, and people at work and at leisure.
In the background are buildings, statues and sections of open public space that draw on the Brixton neighbourhood and the wider context of London. The architecture seen behind the figures includes the Black Cultural Archives, Brixton Windmill, and the Tate Modern. Present among the scenes are The African and Caribbean War Memorial and the Cherry Groce Memorial Pavilion in Windrush Square.
“It has been an exciting experience, painting for six months on the Brixton mural, exploring Brixton’s history, art, and culture. I wanted to reflect and celebrate the vibrant cultural life in Brixton and London,” said Panchal.
“We have suffered a great deal the past few years, but the resilience and healing powers of people have always found a way to overcome adversities throughout history. People and places in the mural tell us a story of each community within Brixton and London.”
During the 1970s and 80s, London became an important city for mural production. ‘Endurance’ centres this history of mural-making in Lambeth and London that were the starting point for Art on the Underground’s programme at Brixton Station.
In 1984, The Greater London Council (GLC) launched its Anti-Racist Mural Programme. This programme commissioned four murals, including one by Panchal and Dushela Ahmad in Tower Hamlets, which partly still exists at the crossroads of Dellow Street and Lowood Street in Shadwell.
“Shanti Panchal’s artwork for Brixton station reverberates with the history of mural making in London, as we recognise Panchal’s participation in the GLC Anti-Racist Mural Programme of the 1980s. And yet, this new work speaks to the issues of today,” said Eleanor Pinfield, head of the Art on the Underground programme.
“Panchal’s triptych painting depicts the challenges and sorrows of the past two years, alongside the monuments of contemporary Brixton, whilst his intimate figures speak to a universal resilience and hope for the future. ‘Endurance’ is a work that will be enjoyed by millions of people as they contemplate the artwork on their daily journeys.”
Art on the Underground previously commissioned a series of pieces for the new Elizabeth Line Stations, which opened earlier this year in May. Since its inception, the programme has presented commissions by UK-based and international artists including Jeremy Deller, Yayoi Kusama, Mark Wallinger, and Tania Bruguera.