When You Look You May Not See: Archives and Public Space

Just a quick post from London, where I saw this poster at Turnham Green tube station:

Richard Wentworth - When You Look You May Not See

Richard Wentworth’s When You Look You May Not See takes a postcard written by First World War soldier Herbert Wilson and simply reverses the original lettering.

The postcard comes from the University of Oxford Poetry Archive and is presented as part of Art on the Underground’s contribution to London’s commemoration of the 1914-18 war.

Richard Wentworth - When You Look You May Not See
When You Look You May Not See being read with a mirror. Photo from Art on the Underground

To me it’s a perfect piece of public art. It uses genuine everyday communication from the archives; presents it in a simple, yet challenging, way; and it’s not bound within the walls of a museum or a prestigious city-centre location – it’s flung out to the platforms of public transport in the commuter suburbs.

It’s really important to think about where we physically place arts and culture programming – you can read more on that, in an Australasian context, in my VALA keynote from earlier this year. And in their own small way, my friends in the Australian town of Parkes have also been exploring the pleasures of ‘locative literature’ in 2014.

Huge congratulations to all involved in the London project and you can read more about When You Look You May Not See at the Art on the Underground website.