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2019 Programme Announcement - On Edge

Art on the Underground’s programme for 2019 will comprise of major new works from internationally renowned artists. As we approach the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union and edge towards an uncertain future, the 2019 programme will explore what it means to be ‘on edge’, individually, collectively, politically and socially. The 2019 programme will look at the role artists can play in developing utopian ideas of togetherness and belonging.

Bringing leading international artists to London, Art on the Underground’s programme discusses the emotional weight of longing and belonging to the city as it crosses this edge. Major commissions situated across London include:

  • For her first UK public commission, Aliza Nisenbaum will be in residence at Brixton station for two months, painting Transport for London staff.
  • Laure Prouvost will create her first public commission in the UK, an ambitious city-wide series of signs and slogans, infiltrating all 270 London Underground stations and seen by millions of people each day.
  • Denzil Forrester will reinterpret his seminal painting ‘Three Wicked Men’ from 1982 for his first public commission in over three decades.
  • Larry Achiampong will re-imagine London Underground’s iconic logo, the Roundel, in a configuration of his ongoing series, the ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE’.
  • Nina Wakeford will present her two-year research project alongside the new Northern Line Extension programme in South London.
  • For the Pocket Tube map, Bedwyr Williams will create one of his iconic drawings which merge art and life with a comedic twist.

 

‘Edges involve extremes. Edges are borders. Edges are very much about identity, about who you are … Who are you?’Ali Smith, ‘On Edge’, Artful, Hamish Hamilton, 2012

hand this piece to one Jacob Aston West (b. approx. 1941-43, Montserrat)

For the fifth edition of the pocket Night Tube map commission series, British artist Jade Montserrat, has created a pencil and watercolour work on paper. The work draws on the artist’s long-standing text-based series, examining individual experiences of structural racism in Britain, shaping our understanding and experience of the world we live in.

The map will be accompanied by a poster work titled ‘”My anger became my motivation”: Baroness Lawrence on Grenfell’, displayed in the 270 London Underground stations and a limited edition print, ‘In memory of Sarah Reed’. Both titles directly reference current incidents of exploitation in the UK.

 

Brixton Mural Map

Murals are indicators of both place and time. During the 1970s and 80s, London became an important centre for mural production. Murals from this period represent the political climate, social context and communities who collaboratively made them. These qualities define the murals that populate Brixton today. However, as London is further developed, many murals are being damaged or destroyed. The surviving murals reveal the rapid change London has undergone in the past few decades, but they have not received the same recognition, protection and conservation as other public artworks or heritage sites in the city. This Mural Map shares the stories behind Brixton’s murals and makes these overlooked public artworks more visible.

Brixton Schools Mural Design Project

From 2018-20 Art on the Underground has commissioned contemporary artists to create new artworks in response to the Brixton murals. These works explore commemoration, collective memory and the wider history of mural making, and will be on display at the Brixton Underground station entrance.

 

As part of this programme Art on the Underground has worked with artist Meera Chauda and six local primary schools to create artworks inspired by the Brixton murals. Each school has designed their own artwork, using drawing and collage, in response to the themes in the original murals. The schools visited specific murals which influenced them to think about what they wanted to celebrate and commemorate about their local area. The designs on display show the pupils’ responses, they are created from tessellated shapes, reminiscent of the London Underground tiles, which reflect each school’s symbol and colours.

 

Remain, Thriving

Art on the Underground present a new commission by Njideka Akunyili Crosby for Brixton station, which will be on view for six months from 20 September. Nigerian-born Akunyili Crosby has been invited to take on the first commission in a new programme at Brixton station. The programme takes the numerous murals that were created in Brixton during the 1980s as an initial point of departure and invites selected artists to respond to their diverse narratives, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.

Akunyili Crosby’s work explores her hybrid cultural identity, combining strong attachments to the country of her birth and her current home in Los Angeles. This theme will continue in her new Brixton commission, this time addressing a specifically black British perspective. Akunyili Crosby has created a work that investigates shared cultural memory and connects the past and present through an exploration of place. Remain, Thriving is a new work made specifically for the entrance of Brixton Underground station. The work depicts an imagined domestic scene, a theme predominant in much of the artist’s work, of an informal gathering of grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Windrush generation in a fictional home in Brixton. The space contains a number of vestiges of an earlier generation, such as a doily or record player, which the figures might have inherited from their parents or grandparents.

In order to anchor her new work in Brixton, and a British diasporic experience, Akunyili Crosby spent time in the area speaking to longstanding members of the local community as well as public historian Kelly Foster, the Black Cultural Archives, and the Lambeth Archives. The artist collated contemporary and archival images of Brixton to use in her final artwork, and the transferred images in the background of Remain, Thriving echo the heavily patterned wallpaper of a previous era. Through the use of photo-collage, Akunyili Crosby’s layered images of social gatherings are also complex reflections on history, community and politics, much like the original Brixton murals. The artist creates densely layered figurative compositions that, precise in style, conjure the complexity of contemporary experience.

The Bower of Bliss

Art on the Underground present a major public commission by British artist Linder at Southwark station, on view until October 2019.

The work, the first large-scale public commission by Linder in London, consists of an 85 metre long street-level billboard at Southwark station and a cover commission for the 29th edition of the pocket Tube map.

Linder has spent four months as artist-in-residence, carefully researching and mapping a vertical history of Southwark. The artist’s starting point begins in the belly of the architecture at Southwark station. Designed by Richard McCormack and opened in 1999, the station was inspired  in part by the 18th Century notion of the English landscape garden and sought to create a place of peace and tranquility, a refuge from urban life. Further research draws on local collections including Southwark Council’s Cuming Museum Collection, the London Transport Museum Collection, and Transport for London’s lost property office as source material for an ambitious photomontage that will wrap the entire station façade at Southwark station.

my name is lettie eggsyrub

Art on the Underground present a major new commission by British artist Heather Phillipson for the disused platform at Gloucester Road Underground station. my name is lettie eggsyrub, Phillipson’s first public commission in the U.K, will fill the 80m platform at the station and be on view for one year.

London-based Phillipson works in video, sculpture, online media, music, drawing, poetry and what she calls walk-in collages. Relationships between human and non-human animals are a recurring theme in her work and for this commission she focusses on the egg as an object of reproduction, subject to human interference. In her space-filling sculptural and video installation for Gloucester Road’s disused platform, Phillipson will use video game-style layout techniques to magnify eggs and avian body-parts to monstrous proportions.

Pimlico Tiles

The construction of the Victoria line began in the early 1960s, with a uniform clean design for each station. Individual character is brought into stations by a unique tile design sitting behind benches on the platforms. At Pimlico station, it was decided that a contemporary artist would be appropriate to link the station to the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain), just a few minutes walk away. Peter Sedgley was chosen. In the 1960s, Sedgley was developing his ‘op-art’ style of work, optically confusing artworks that challenge your perceptions. He based his design at Pimlico on his painting ‘Go’ of 1968. Many of Sedgley’s works can be found in Tate’s collection. Other bench recess designs along the Victoria line feature work by designers and graphic artists Abram Games, Edward Bawden, Hans Unger, Alan Fletcher, Tom Eckersley, George Smith and Julia Black.

Paolozzi Restoration at Tottenham Court Road station

Eduardo Paolozzi’s mosaics at Tottenham Court Road are one of the most spectacular examples of public art in London. Completed in 1986, the glass mosaics cover 950 sq metres featuring prominently on the Northern line and Central line platforms and an array of interconnecting spaces. The mosaics reflect Paolozzi’s interpretation of the local area and his wider interest in mechanisation, urbanisation, popular culture and everyday life.

As part of a major renovation of the station, the mosaics have undergone significant restoration and conservation work. Around 95 percent of the mosaics have been retained at the station while it underwent a huge expansion to prepare for the introduction of the Elizabeth line and meet the needs of London’s growing population. Restoration and repair work has taken place on the Northern and Central line platforms, and in the Rotunda.

One of the final and most complex aspects of the project was the relocation of the striking mosaic panel from the former Oxford Street entrance. Following intensive planning and consultation with conservation experts, the artwork was carefully removed from the wall in one piece and lowered down a lift shaft to begin its new life at platform level.

Sections of the arches that could not be relocated within the station were transported to the world-renowned Edinburgh College of Art, based in the city where Eduardo Paolozzi studied in 1943 and later became a visiting professor. They are currently being used in teaching a new undergraduate programme, ‘Edinburgh Collections’, and the University is consulting with specialists over how best to reconstruct the mosaics into a new piece of public art.

To find out more about the restoration project, watch our documentary below.

Beauty < Immortality

Visionary London Transport CEO Frank Pick, whose designs have influenced London travel since 1906, is commemorated with a permanent memorial by Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell.

The work, entitled Beauty < Immortality, commissioned by London Transport Museum and Art on the Underground was unveiled on Monday 7 November 2016 at Piccadilly Circus station, the 75th anniversary of Pick’s death.

Langlands & Bell’s striking wall installation features the famous London Underground logo, the roundel, and solid bronze letters in Johnston Font, which was commissioned by Pick in 1915 and is still used across the London transport network today.

The words of the commission relate to Pick’s philosophy on beauty, utility, goodness and truth, and were discovered by the artists in Pick’s personal papers, which are conserved in the London Transport Archive. The memorial emphasises Langlands & Bell’s shared conviction with Pick that the quality of our surroundings contributes decisively to our quality of life.

Beauty < Immortality is an exquisite addition to Piccadilly Circus, one of the stations Frank Pick commissioned leading British modernist architect Charles Holden to design.