The Line from Now to Then

SWAP Residency, Ukraine. British Council 2019/2020

Header image credit: Centre for Urban History Digital Archives. View of Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho Street, Lviv, looking towards The Jam Factory

A 5 week research/ process based residency (Nov/Dec 2019) working with a new contemporary arts centre, The Jam Factory (opening 2022) in Lviv, Ukraine.

Research and conversations with Jam Factory staff and members of the public highlighted the fact that the Jam Factory is physically, culturally  and psychologically distant from the cultural centre of Lviv. We devised a series of strategies to creatively connect the centre of the city to Pidzamche, the post-industrial area where the Jam Factory is situated.

Going Underground : Actions in the Underpass

The city centre is divided from Pidzamche by a railway line. A neglected underpass that runs underneath the railway line connects the two areas. There are small shop units in the underpass but most of them are disused. We hired one of these shop units and created ‘Going Underground: Actions in the Underpass’. This project activated and reimagined the underpass as part of a physical and cultural journey. The project created new ways of involving the local community, students and decision makers in conversations about creative regeneration of the area. 

The Underpass

‘Office in the Underpass’

A disused shop unit was rented and a 3 day ‘Office in the Underpass’ set up. Working with the local community, architecture students and passers by, we created an open space for people to drop in, take part in activities and have conversations about how the underpass could be reimagined as a creative space and as a ‘landmark’ destination, generating ideas for creative transformation:

  • Gathering ideas for the disused shop units such as social spaces, co-working spaces, community spaces, workshop spaces…
  • An Underpass ‘renaming competition’. The underpass did not have a name. A name makes it ‘somewhere’
  • Activities to gather ideas for a redesign of the underpass entrances and through corridor using easily implementable ideas such as growing structures and schemes (community garden, vegetable and fruit growing) creative led lighting, temporary public art, repainting…
  • Hosting an architecture student from Lviv Polytechnic
  • Window projections: images from other creative transformations of underpasses around the world, how growing has has been used to transform place (apologies for not having details of the specific artists and makers who made the amazing work we highlighted) as well as archive footage of the Pidzamche..
  • Children’s storytelling and workshops
  • Hosting the Director of the City Institute for discussions about Creative Regeneration of the Underpass and introducing the Underpass into the city strategy for Pidzamche.

Posters in the Underpass

Disused poster sites in the underpass were used as sites for artworks and each day for 3 days a different set of posters was installed. The posters explored new lines of connection. Connection through place and time and between the city and Pidzamche, connection between people and the possibility of new connections through creative change.

Day 1. Maps

We used archival maps from the past century to reorientate the city with the underpass at the centre. We wanted to draw attention to the underpass as the centre-point of the journey from Lviv city centre to the Jam Factory. The maps also highlighted the changes of sovereignty in Lviv during the past century. Location of underpass circled in red.

Day 2. Hands

Ukraine has a history of people joining hands to make human chains hundreds of kilometres long to mark significant events and as a social form of protest.

Day 3. Words

Posters with the words:

Short film documenting some of our work in the Underpass by The Jam factory

The Underpass to the Jam Factory: Making the Connection.

An examination of a single journey in different registers

The underpass leads onto Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho St and The Jam Factory can be reached after a 15 minute walk. To make the connection from the underpass to the Jam Factory we have made a series of books which act as walking companions and which explore and draw attention to various aspects of the journey.

By concentrating on a journey by foot between these two points, we create a tether between them. And as one end of the journey starts at the periphery of the city centre, the other end of the journey, The Jam Factory, becomes tethered to the centre too.  We feel that someone taking three journeys to events at the Jam Factory accompanied by the different books would start to see the journey itself as a deep cultural experience. An experience to be considered, examined and possibly challenged by.

The walking journey from the underpass to The Jam Factory

The books themselves all use different creative strategies to explore the journey, revealing different aspects of place as they do so. Time and territory are important components in one, inconsequential details re-framed and explored in another and the third forces the reader to dream forward into possible futures – a speculation on events that haven’t happened yet.

Image from exhibition at Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre. March 2020 (British Council SWAP Programme)

The Jam Factory and access : There is currently no wheelchair access through the underpass and the pavements are very uneven so the journey is difficult for a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues. The Tram only goes part way to the Jam Factory. the buses are not wheelchair accessible.

1. Desire Line

The first book explores details of the journey through macro photographs of lines and cracks in the buildings and walls along the walk to the Jam Factory. Each line is given a number which is the number of steps from either the Underpass or the Jam Factory to where it can be found. People finding the lines will be looking closely at details of the journey. Through the use of ‘lines’, we are exploring the idea of creating a new ‘desire line’ from Lviv centre to The Jam Factory.

2. The Line from Then to Now

The second book uses images from the Centre for Urban History to connect people to the past of Bohdana Khmel’nyts’koho St. The pages are translucent and can be used to hold up against the current buildings while in the street to look through and see the past. The book can be used from the Underpass to the Jam Factory, or by turning it over, from the Jam Factory to the Underpass.

3. The Line from Now to Then

The third book explores possible futures at points along the journey.


The Pidzamche Public Hearth : A mobile social space for navigating a shared future

The Jam Factory is situated in Pidzamche, a post industrial area with associated social, economic, environmental and infrastructure issues. We talked to the Jam Factory about strategies to ensure that the new centre is both relevant and accessible to the local community. Our contribution to this process is the The Pidzamche Public Hearth.

The Pidzamche Public Hearth is a fire bowl that can be used to create a public space. It is an offering sent through time to the opening of the Jam Factory.

Six bundles of kindling made from wood from the old Jam Factory building have been left at the Jam Factory, together with instructions for the lighting of six fires at important points throughout the first year of operation as a new Contemporary Art Centre. A compass is cut into fire bowl and projects the pattern in fire light on the ground when lit to guide the journey of the Jam Factory. The instructions for the six curated conversations facilitate the creation of regular inclusive social events situated around the fire. The fire bowl itself is a transportable size and will be able to be used at community events within Pidzamche.

Above : The beam from the Jam Factory (old building before demolition) and bundles of kindling from the beam.

The complexities, contradictions and contested histories of Lviv can be put to good use if we concentrate on creating ideas for a shared future that is inclusive and generous. In this way, we can start the process of co-creating a new and inclusive culture in Pidzamche with the Jam Factory facilitating this process.

The hearth is the heart of the spaces we occupy; warm and safe. A place that keeps the darkness and the cold at bay. It is personal and intimate, where acts of hospitality happen, a place for telling stories of the past and for dreaming of the future. It is a place of entertainment and magical experiences for children who fall asleep in the warmth as stories and laughter surround them.

The fire is circular, the spread of light allows for anonymity or performance. It is a democratic space; a place where everyone has a voice. When you invite someone to sit with you around a fire, you are sharing resources (fuel/food/information) and creating unique social bonds. 

It is where history is recounted and improved. It is a place for reconciliation and forgiveness, for truth telling and ownership of past wrongs, for pacts and politics. The hearth fire has central place in human cultural development from the heating of food to the reinforcing of social bonds and behaviours to dreaming into the future.

Key elements: Hospitality, care and care giving, bridging and connecting spaces and communities. DIWO (Do It With Others)

Above: The Fire Bowl and bundles of kindling with instructions for curated conversations at Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre March 2020 (British Council SWAP Programme)

Exhibition at Dnipro Contemporary Culture Centre March 2020

Exhibition information here The UK-based artists found themselves caught up in the drawn-out, uncertain processes of transformation taking place in cities across Ukraine. For the artists this served as a jumping off point for the consideration of new models for socio-cultural relations as well as a search for unity in a time marked by the formulation and reconsideration of provisional boundaries, and the (im)possibility of bringing order to the chaotic present

Our work was presented as documentation of ‘Actions in the Underpass’, the posters produced for The Underpass, the ‘Desire Line’ books, ‘The Pidzamche Public Hearth’ and ‘Detritus/Fragments’. 3D interactive walk around the whole exhibition HERE

Framed found objects

During February 2020, each member of the Jam Factory staff team walked the route from the Underpass to the Jam Factory (now under renovation) They each picked up an object or fragment that reflected an aspect of their own relationship with Pidzamache, its past, present or possible future. Each item was displayed with the location where it was found and the accompanying narrative.

Example text: Item 1 `Korivka` (`Cow`) Candy Wrapper.

“My dad, his sister and my Gran grew up in Pidzamche. This candy has very sweet caramel taste and was very popular when it came out. My grandma and aunt still buy them for themselves or for me, even though I am 24 years old and I don’t like it anymore! I wonder if this is because of the nostalga for ‘those times’ or because they really like it. In my childhood, I once stole some from the supermarket with my friends. I didn’t eat it after stealing because of the feeling of shame. Who knows why I did it (I never was this kind of a kid), but that was the first and the last time I stole anything in my life. It is strange to see that this candy is still on sale but it seems very natural to find its wrapping here.”

Below: Film by Ukrainian BBC (UA: Culture)

Film by Ukrainian BBC (UA: Culture). (‘The Line from Now to Then‘ features at 17.20 min) Language Ukranian.

ART FOR UKRAINE 2022. We were appalled by the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Together with the other artists on the British Council SWAP programme, we fundraised for humanitarian aid. We printed the large posters from the work in the underpass as sets of postcards and together with donated works by many artists we raised nearly £9000. Many of our Friends in Lviv are working in humanitarian contexts and The Jam Factory is supporting artists to explore how the war is impacting Ukraine. The situation is ongoing..

Categories: 2020, Community Engagement, Interactive, Participatory, Process, Research, Site Specific, Strategy

Jo Hodges

Jo Hodges is a multidisciplinary public artist based in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
with a background in Human Ecology, community development and social justice.

Her work investigates ecological and socio-cultural systems, processes and relationships, and explores new strategies for working in public. Her practice takes many forms; temporary and permanent works, site specific installations and socially engaged projects and processes. She is often led by context, where the outcome is determined as a result of process.

She is interested in research, experimentation and collaboration at the intersection of environment, culture and technology and exploring the role of art in social change. She is joint Director-Curator of Sanctuary Lab, a public art laboratory in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park.