Mystery Train was a six-month ICA project bringing together the artist Jessica Voorsanger, Westminster Charity Pursuing Independent Paths and Art on the Underground.
Over six months, Jessica Voorsanger and students from PIP worked together to demystify transport through a series of trips and games, using costumes and karaoke. They visited galleries and museums in the city and toured 'behind the scenes' with the staff at Charing Cross Underground station.
As part of the project, Jessica and the students developed a series of posters with London Underground staff at Charing Cross. Based on the popular game 'Heads, Bodies and Legs', the posters present different sections of each participant's photographic portrait that are mixed up together to make a new set of composite figures, each dressed in the London Underground uniform.
Working alongside PIP's travel training programme, Mystery Train aimed to encourage adults with learning disabilities to travel independently and use public transport to access galleries and museums.
Download the Mystery Train Publication at the bottom of this page.
Mystery Train was an ICA project in collaboration with Art on the Underground, supported by John Lyon's Charity.
"Mystery Train embraces London, its transport and popular culture, encouraging people with learning disabilities to visit and celebrate contemporary art galleries. Artist Jessica Voorsanger and students from Pursuing Independent Paths have worked together to demystify transport through trips and games, using costumes and karaoke. Mystery Train looked to encourage the students to travel independently, building a long term relationship with the ICA, and London's many galleries and museums."
Emma-Jayne Taylor, ICA Director of Learning
"Mystery Train has incorporated all of the fundamental elements of my practice into one brilliant project: game playing, singing (mainly karaoke), popular culture, interactivity and now transport. Through the Heads, Bodies and Legs game I have been able to bring together all of the participants. PIP students, ICA staff and London Underground staff were brought together to create a new breed of composite portrait, making us interchangeable. Being able to work with the students has been a brilliant experience, especially the luxury of being able to work with the same seven students, enabling us to build a strong continuity in our approach towards each other, the workshops and the project itself. "
Jessica Voorsanger, Artist
"I have enjoyed the sense of exploration that runs through Mystery Train. Travel itself – and London's transport system in particular – served both as inspiration for our projects with Jessica Voorsanger as well as the link between our base at the ICA, PIP's centre in Westminster and the world of galleries and museums that we discovered."
Emily Candela, Artist Educator
"In the course of the project, a few of our service users have built the confidence to undergo travel training, enabling them to travel to the ICA independently. This has been a great confidence boost. A number of the students have talked about the wider experiences of the project, such as meeting staff at Charing Cross Underground station and the ICA."
Dan Kisumbi, PIP Head of Service
Students from PIP and artist Jessica Voorsanger in action on the Mystery Train.
As part of this project, the group worked with London Underground staff at Charing Cross to create a sequence of 19 posters that were launched on 8 December as an exhibition within the station. Based on the popular Heads, Bodies and Legs game, the posters are made up of threefold composite photographic portraits of the students, Charing Cross and ICA staff and Jessica Voorsanger, all wearing London Underground uniforms.