Chiswick Timeline

Photograph: Chiswick Timeline, January 2017

The Chiswick Timeline is the mural on the railway bridge beside Turnham Green tube station. It is the brainchild of Chiswick residents Karen Liebreich and Sarah Cruz, who together are known as Abundance London, so-called because when not creating murals they organise fruit picking locally and make sure that the excess fruit in local gardens does not go to waste.

Unimpressed by the dingy and depressing state of the railway bridge in Turnham Green Terrace, they decided to do something about it and set about researching old maps of Chiswick and art works by historic local artists, designing the mural and raising the money to get it installed, to cheer the place up.

Four years, about a million emails and £95,000 later, the mural was put up in January 2018. There are 49 metal panels altogether, those on the western (cab rank) wall showing eight maps dating from 1593 to 1867, those on the eastern (bus stop) wall showing another eight maps from 1893 to the present day.

Photograph: Sarah Cruz and Karen Liebreich

The work of famous artists recreated

There are also a number of paintings by well-known local artists replicated in the mural. Two were commissioned to create new works of art especially for it. Sir Peter Blake, best known for the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album, used a similar design to create a collage of the music hall artists who played at the Empire Theatre in Chiswick in its heyday in the 1920s and ‘30s. Jan Pienkowski, who illustrated children’s books Meg and Mog in the 1970s, created an image of the Russian Cathedral in Chiswick in his trademark bright colours.

Images: Specially commissioned art work from Sir Peter Blake and Jan Pienkowski.

Other contemporary artists whose work is recreated in the mural include political cartoonist Martin Rowson and Marthe Armitage, who is famous for her hand-drawn lino blocks. Well-known artists of the past who are associated with Chiswick are represented by William Hogarth, William Turner, Eric Ravilious, Johann Zoffany, Julian Trevelyan and Camille Pissarro, amongst others.

Filming the installation

The Timeline was installed overnight, during ten bitter cold nights in January 2017, in order not to disrupt traffic during the day. The Chiswick Calendar’s cameraman Mike McKenzie filmed the installation of the Chiswick Timeline, using a specially adapted go-pro camera. Mike then reduced 100 hours of footage to a minute and a half to the music of Boots Randolph, Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer ‘Yakety Sax’.

Sir Peter Blake

At the Bedford Park Festival in June 2017 Sir Peter Blake talked to the Editor of The Chiswick Calendar Bridget Osborne about the collage of the Chiswick Empire music hall theatre which he designed specially for the Chiswick Timeline, and why the old theatre was so dear to his heart. Abundance London ran a competition to win a print of his montage of music hall characters.

Before the installation

It’s hard to remember now what the bridge looked like before the installation of the time line. This is what it looked like.

Manufacturing the panels

Manufacturing the panels of the mural took months, with a fair bit of trial and error.

Our thanks to cameraman Peter Evans for these two videos.

Community art works

To mark the launch of the mural Karen Liebreich and Sarah Cruz also organised two mass participation artworks in ceramic and textile: ‘Chiswick in Ceramic: Put your House on the Map’ and ‘Chiswick without Borders: Where do we come from?’ Local schools contributed by getting the children to paint a model of their house and put it on a plan of Chiswick and people were invited to pin a ribbon to a world map showing where their family originated, in an interactive art event to the launch party on Sunday 28 January 2018. You can see Chiswick Without Borders on show at Chiswick Library.

To find out more about the Chiswick Timeline and how it came about, go to the Chiswick Timeline website.

Read more about Karen Liebreich and about Abundance London

See our profile of Karen Liebreich here

Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here

Read about the bumps in the road along the way

in our News & Features pages:

TfL in a pickle over bridge mural – Jan 2017 Read blog post here

We have progress on the Chiswick Timeline – July 2017 Read guest blog by Karen Liebreich here

Timeline Troubles – January 2018 Read blog post here