Linear (2010)
60 portraits of Jubilee line staff

Commissioned by Art on the Underground, London

Linear, by artist Dryden Goodwin, is a series of portraits of individuals with different working roles on the Jubilee line. Goodwin has drawn 60 pencil portraits of staff at work, or at moments of pause in their day, and has created 60 films recording the drawings being made. Each drawing concentrates on a person’s face and head. The films show the accelerated progression of these drawings, accompanied by fragments of the conversation between the artist and ‘sitter’, revealing a multitude of personal exchanges and stories. Together they form an intimate and diverse social portrait of this community of workers. The drawings were displayed on a wide variety of poster sites, digital screen's and special exhibition sites across the London Underground network. The films can be viewed online, on a dedicated website, offering the opportunity to unlock the creation of each portrait.

In his work Goodwin attempts to extend the limits of what portraiture can do. To explore this, he often combines various media, such as drawing, sound, photography and video. His multi-layered portraits offer a heightened sense of individuals or collective communities, and of how we interact with one another. His subjects are drawn from a diverse range of people, whether strangers encountered in the city, friends, family or specific groups within a shared environment.

Central to Linear is an acknowledgement of the inability of any portrait to describe a subject adequately. Rather than attempting to depict the hundreds of staff who work on the Jubilee line, Linear evokes a sense of their personal contributions through the detailed portrayal of just 60 individuals, exemplifying the variety of roles on the line. A similar process of condensing occurs in each of the separate film portraits, where the real-time development of the drawings is speeded up and the conversations edited into intense (but inevitably incomplete) representations of each person. The investment of time becomes an underlying theme of the work. This is emphasised in the captions accompanying the drawings, where the time taken to make each portrait is juxtaposed with the number of years each member of staff has worked on the Jubilee line.

The portraits were drawn in a variety of locations such as train operator’s cabs, signalling towers, management offices, station control rooms, ticket
offices and gates. Through the intertwining of these individuals’ varied roles, with the abundance of their personal revelations and experiences, different themes emerge encompassing life, death, love, personal obsessions and aspirations. In this way, Linear evokes both a physical and emotional mapping of the Jubilee line.

For Goodwin, “Linear exists as a repository of insights and histories, anecdotal and factual, revealed through the interplay of the drawn line and conversation, that is unique to the Jubilee line at this particular point in time. Drawing someone you’ve never met before results in an intense encounter and enables a unique intimacy to develop. As the portraits unfold, so too does openness in the conversation; Linear is all about different types of connection.”

Over two year, Linear was presented across the London Underground network on poster sites and leaflets, with exhibition sites at Southwark, London Bridge and Stanmore Underground stations and an online exhibition of all 60 films.

Launched February 5th 2010 - until Spring 2012

  Linear website (to watch the films)

  Art on the Underground



Linear at Southwark station










Linear posters distributed across the underground network





Linear at London Bridge station





Linear at Stanmore station




Linear leaflet




Linear 6 sheet illuminated poster distributed across the underground network from end of April 2010



Linear posters distributed across the underground network



Linear documentation from the making of the project




Linear (2010)