Local artist goes underground

Local artist John Broad’s artwork has gone underground – quite literally.

Local artist John Broad

Local artist John Broad in his West Bay studio.
Photo: Joanna Lewis

A poster of his painting – Rhythmical Dancer – is now on display on the London Underground, at Notting Hill Gate station, on the Central Line, platform four, to be precise.

Broad’s painting is part of the Art Below initiative, which, since 2005, has exhibited artwork on the London Underground by more than 250 artists from across the globe. All artwork is reproduced on large posters and displayed in areas usually reserved for conventional campaigns, adding a splash of colour to the world’s oldest underground transport system, also known to Londoners as the Tube.

Broad, who originally hails from the UK, is the first artist to represent Cayman in the project.

‘Obviously it feels great to have my work on show,’ the artist said. ‘As a student I used to travel on the Underground, so this exhibit is a sense of a home coming. I was always fascinated by the ever changing array of posters, advertisements and flyers on display. I think it is a brilliant place for art exhibitions.’

The artwork went on display last Tuesday and will be on show for two weeks. Broad first came across the initiative while on a recent trip to the UK to visit family.

‘I always try and make some art contacts while I am overseas and this one just happened to pay off,’ the prolific artist said.

‘I spotted a host of artwork on display while I was travelling on the Tube and was struck by the amount of interest this created among the public. I then bought an art magazine that happened to have a feature about the initiative and got in contact with them from there.’

Broad’s submitted artwork is acrylic on canvas and inspired by the annual Batabano carnival.

‘I chose Rhythmical Dancer as it is a piece I am particularly pleased with and I feel it best reflects my style,’ he said.

Broad was given a choice of stations at which to exhibit his work, and chose Notting Hill because of its strong connection to Europe’s biggest carnival.

Ben Moore, director of Art Below, said Broad’s artwork had a colourful and vibrant atmosphere that would resonate well in the location.

‘I like work that reflects far away cultures,’ Moore said. ‘It gives people an opportunity to momentarily escape to that far away place, especially when travelling in the confined and regulated environment of the London Underground.

‘I especially like the parallel that the artist himself was once a daily user of the Underground, but since relocated to a very different type of lifestyle and surroundings in the Cayman Islands. Through Art Below he is able to transport a part of his new surroundings back to the surroundings of his past – a journey in time and distance.’

He added: ‘London is a truly multi-cultural place and I think the art that we show reflects that diversity.

‘Exhibiting alongside John Broad in this particular campaign are artists from all over Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand as well as world famous Pakistani artist Nasser Azam.’

In addition to working with artists to display their work on the Underground, Art Below has galleries in London’s Knightsbridge and Finsbury Park in addition to currently working with Tokyo Underground and Paris Metro systems. Broad hopes that his involvement with Art Below will open the door to a future exhibition in London.

Broad attended Southend School of Art and went on to study at Edinburgh College of Art. He moved to Grand Cayman in 1989 to teach art at the Cayman Islands High School. Since then he has held many solo and group shows. In 2003 he was commissioned by the National Gallery to paint the Quincentennial year Wall of History. His work – which the artist describes as infused with colour, movement and passion for the human spirit – can be found in collections across the US and Europe.


Posters of John Broad’s Rhythmical Dancer are available to purchase on the organisation’s website. Visit www.artbelow.com. Alternatively go to the artist’s page, www.yessy.com/artcayman