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Central line stories: Writer Sarah Butler in collaboration with London Underground staff

Date uploaded: September 12, 2011

Central line stories: Writer Sarah Butler in collaboration with London Underground staff

Writer Sarah Butler is drawn to cities and public spaces where chance encounters and unexpected connections are a daily occurrence. In 2009, Art on the Underground commissioned Sarah to undertake a six-month residency on the Central line and to collaborate with London Underground staff in creating new writing.

With 45 Central line-managed stations from West Ruislip to Epping, Central line staff have little opportunity to meet and engage with each other. Sarah’s challenge was to develop creative strategies that would involve the whole line.

Central line staff guided Sarah along the line, introducing her to their colleagues and recounting their own tales. These initial conversations highlighted a very human desire to communicate through story-telling.

The collaboration resulted in four distinct texts available to read and listen to online: What’s in a Name?, a collection of stories attached to staff names; Central line whispers, a tale written by 56 staff from 45 stations over five days; Meetings with drivers, short fiction inspired by Sarah’s conversations with Tube drivers, and a story in the form of a puzzle. Sarah Butler has collaborated with web designers Red Leader to create a new online version of the project that enables visitors to explore the stories interactively.

Central line stories offers the reader a glimpse into the rich imaginations, knowledge and experiences of the London Underground staff who you may well encounter on your next Central line journey.

Visit www.urbanwords.org.uk/2011/08/central-line-stories-web-pages-relaunched/