Case study 2: Bucharest Metro Arts

The Bucharest Metroarts Project was set up in 2008 to regenerate the Piata Victoriei metro station – the stop for Bucharest’s key museums.

For the first stage of the project, Alice went to Bucharest where she ran workshops with local children at The Peasant Museum and The Natural History Museum. There were artists involved from the UK and Romania who were then invited to submit work to an exhibition that was a scale version of what they would propose creating in the metro station. There was a competition where the public and museum staff voted for which projects they would like to see realised. Alice’s project The City of Whispers was one of the winning projects.

Though sadly the crash led to the funding for the project being cut, there is still hope that the project will someday be completed. However the exhibition at Carturesti gallery in Bucharest was a great success.

The City of Whispers was inspired by the empty advertising cases at the metro station. What if they were filled with something wonderful that celebrated the everyday history of Bucharest whilst leading people to the museums? What if these empty spaces could talk of what they had seen – restore meaning through a space normally associated with the shallowness of commerce? What if they held the secret stories of Bucharest, coming back for free?

Ideas were gathered by walking around Bucharest and also talking to people, researching at The Peasant Museum, and finding wonderful old photos of residents. Inspired by the textiles at the Peasant Museum and the embroidery workshops she had led, Alice embroidered a city scene, but mixed contemporary Bucharest streets with myths from Romanian history. This was combined with embroidered text in English and Romanian and old photos that were also stitched into the calico back drop of the work. The large box in this series also had hand blown bottles and bell jars on shelves containing photos of people and traditional Romanian names. There were a series of smaller boxes that were to lead out of the station, which also contained embroidery, photos, hand blown glass, text, miniature books and miniature thread sculptures.

The work sought to portray a sense of Bucharest’s history rising up through the streets – restoring lost names and stories to the people of the city today, the usually ignored cases acting as a portal for forgotten things.