During its five-year rebuild London Bridge station was transformed. Previously a haphazard maze of buildings, tunnels and walkways, it is now a purpose-built, accessible, dual-concourse station fit for the 21st century. As well as improving travel for passengers, Network Rail and Thameslink Programme were also committed to enhancing the local community around the station.
A rich history
Stainer Street, which connects Bankside to the north of the station with Bermondsey to the south, has a rich and varied history. Famous poet John Keats (1795-1821) lived in 8 Dean Street, when a medical student at Guy’s Hospital. It was here that he wrote the poem “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”.
Originally named Dean Street, it was later renamed to Stainer Street after John Stainer, a prominent Victorian-era organist who was born in Southwark.
Joining communities – the vision
By 2010 Stainer Street had become little more than a polluted cut through for traffic with very few pedestrians using it. The vision for the design for Stainer Street was to remove traffic to create a pleasant and safe link through the station without users necessarily needing to enter the station itself.
New shops and restaurants would also be offered fronting directly onto the street. This would create extra income for the improvement of our rail infrastructure while also encouraging people to explore the area on either side of the station.
Reactivating Stainer Street – Me. Here. Now.
‘Only the first step is difficult.’ ‘The distance means nothing.’ ‘One foot in front of the other.’
Thameslink Programme wanted to reactivate Stainer Street, ensuring it made a greater contribution to the local community. ‘Me. Here. Now.’ is a key part of that. An ambitious new artwork by South London-based artist Mark Titchner, it consists of three giant domes suspended from the ceiling of the walkway.
Mirrored and printed inside and out, the polished stainless steel domes reflect both the brickwork of the walkway and the movement and colour of everyday life below, giving the visitor an unexpected view of a familiar setting – offering ever changing juxtapositions of fluid reflections. The circular hemispheres of the domes echo the formal architecture of the grand brick arches and also act as a metaphor for a journey without end. As long as we continue to change, so does the world around us.
Titchner wanted to produce a work that was poetic and thought-provoking. He also aimed to associate the experience of travel and commuting with endurance and the potential for self-improvement and spiritual growth.
About the artist
Mark Titchner has lived and worked in South London since 1993. After leaving Central St Martins he worked as a model maker and workshop assistant on nearby Weston Street and from 2002 to 2006 he worked from a studio at Delfina Studios on Bermondsey Street very close to the station. He still lives in South London today.
He specialises in creating artworks which explore the tensions between the different belief systems that inform our society using words and language. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006 and participated in the Venice Biennale in 2007. He is currently lead artist for “As you change, so do I”, an evolving three-year public art project based in his hometown of Luton.
The London Bridge commission was awarded through a competitive process, managed by curators Futurecity. His proposal was selected from a shortlist of artists by an Arts Advisory Panel including representatives from Network Rail, Grimshaw Architects, Southwark Council, Science Gallery London, Drawing Room, REM Ltd and Futurecity.
Supporting the profile of the Shard Quarter
The commission will contribute to the local, national and international profile of the new Shard Quarter, of which the London Bridge Station Development is a key part, in helping deliver the ambitious objectives of the Team London Bridge Culture Strategy, which supports the significant investment in culture and the creative industries in the area.
Stainer Street was officially reopened alongside the unveiling of landmark public artwork ‘Me. Here. Now.’ at 11am on Wednesday 17 October 2018. The event, which was attended by dignitaries from the local community and artist Mark Titchner, saw the gates to the new walkway pulled aside – letting the public through for the first time. The ceremony also featured a performance by children from local Snowsfield Primary.