Projects Resources

Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily

Monster Chetwynd combines historic references, theatrical aesthetics, and popular culture to tell stories that reflect on society and morality. Her installation, Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily, reveals the entwined histories of Gloucester Road station and the vast programme of cultural redevelopment that followed the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park.

Through her research into Gloucester Road and the local area Monster Chetwynd became fascinated by the giant Amazonian waterlily. This plant was the inspiration behind gardener-turned-architect Joseph Paxton’s pioneering design for the Crystal Palace, the building which housed the Great Exhibition. Paxton based the structure on the waterlily’s elaborate network of ribbed veins, creating a modular, kit-form design which paved the way for successive public buildings and revolutionised architecture. Revenue from tickets to the Great Exhibition provided capital for the construction of the museums situated along Exhibition Road, these new developments created a cultural destination known as ‘Albertopolis’.

At Gloucester Road Tube station, Chetwynd creates a series of five 4-metre diameter disc-shaped sculptures along the length of a disused platform. Each sculpture is populated with creatures – beetles, dragonfly larvae, tadpoles and tortoises – that appear to be constructing sections of the Crystal Palace. They show the underwater life of the submerged lily pads, their spiny network of veins playing host to the industrious wildlife. Rather than stepping down into the tunnels of the London Underground it is as if the viewer has stepped beneath the surface of the water, into a subterranean simulation of the Amazon. A freestanding salamander, holding an Amazonian lily pad as a parasol, is an anthropomorphic addition to this scene of amphibian industry. The sculptures reference the commemorative coins, medallions and souvenirs that were created to commemorate the Great Exhibition, as well as the array of terracotta animal sculptures that decorate the exterior walls and vaulted galleries of the Natural History Museum.

A trailer for a new film by Monster Chetwynd, Who named the Lily? is also on view in the station. It celebrates and laments the complicated history of the Crystal Palace. Chetwynd plays the ‘Fact Hungry Witch’, who explores the story of the Amazonian waterlily, and reveals its links to engineering. Shot on 35mm film by artist-filmmaker Margaret Salmon at locations including Chatsworth House, The London Transport Museum and the Natural History Museum. It features a cast of performers, including the historian and broadcaster, Adam John Hart-Davis and a group of young people from FAT studio, a community-led initiative based at London’s Old Kent Road. The artwork brings to light the politics of Paxton’s developments in industry and architecture; however, the protagonist of this story is the waterlily – a catalyst for ground-breaking technological advancement.

Monster Chetwynd has also devised an interactive detective hunt, aimed at families at South Kensington, the ‘Fact Hungry Witch’ invites participants to find clues hidden in her seven poster artworks situated along the South Kensington pedestrian tunnel.

Chetwynd’s commission for Art on the Underground builds on the artist’s track record of creating public artworks that engage broad and varied audiences through evocative references and an uplifting, irreverent sense of fun.

Come Out, Come Out

Art on the Underground presents a new artwork for Holland Park station and the 38th pocket Tube map by American artist Sharon Hayes.

Sharon Hayes’s new artwork celebrates the history of LGBTQ+ activism through UK newspaper archives. ‘Come Out, Come Out’, Hayes new artwork invites its audience to hold space to ‘come out’ and be together, in protest, in celebration, in resistance, in solidarity, in fragility and in strength.

Hayes uses video, performance, sound, public sculpture, and textiles to disentangle prevailing histories and examine the intersections between time, politics, and speech. Hayes’s multidisciplinary practice engages with feminist history, LGBTQ+ genealogies and the transformative power of language.

Inspired by historic protest events and banners, ‘Come Out, Come Out’ assembles fragments of newspaper cuttings marking major events in the history of UK LGBTQ+ activism. Using the back of a fabric banner as a platform for an improvisational collage, the backward slogans, ‘Come Out, Come Out’ and ‘Come Out’, reflect on the dynamic temporalities of activism and its distribution into the public sphere. Hayes’s work for the pocket Tube map cover is extended at Holland Park Tube station to include four additional artworks which alternate between the slogans and vibrant colour backgrounds along the exterior of the station.

Always seen in reverse, Hayes’s artwork banners invites the viewer to imagine being stood behind them, as though the banners are being held up or seen in a rear-view mirror, a reflection of the past as we look to the future. The legibility of the reversed lettering emerges gradually, allowing for a slower consideration of the words and their meanings. As the words come into view, the viewer is reminded of the multiple meanings of ‘coming out’ – an act of self-identity, an invitation to community, a collective force of resistance and celebration.

‘Come Out, Come Out’ is part of a series of banners created by Hayes, which are inspired by an encounter she had in a feminist archive. Handling a protest banner from the 1970s, she noticed that newspapers had stuck to the back of the banner’s fabric created a reverse imprint of the painted slogan, an accidental time stamp of the banner’s creation and the news of that time. This process has been replicated in this new work for the Pocket Tube map.

Hayes is interested in the power of language and its differing visual, sonic and emotional registers as it is disseminated and re-disseminated across time and space. The phrase ‘come out’ was first used by the LGBTQ+ community in the 1950s in reference to ‘coming out’ into gay society, self-disclosing one’s sexuality or gender identity. It has since been used more widely by LGBTQ+ communities and other social justice movements to communicate and celebrate self-identity as a means of galvanising solidarity and support and reducing isolation.

The newspaper cuttings that appear in the artwork include: a profile of Black gay activist Ted Brown, former member of the Gay Liberation Front who co-organised a gay ‘kiss-in’ at the first official Pride march in London in 1972, historic articles on ‘stop the clause’ protests against the section 28, a law enacted in 1988 and repealed in 2000/03, preventing any UK school or local authority from making positive statements about same-sex relationships, profiles of the past 50 years of Pride in London, celebrations of Black LGBTQ+ history and a story about LGBT Syrian refugees celebrating their first pride in London in 2021. Using collage to de-frame and reframe historical moments of LGBTQ+ activism, Hayes reveals how resistance and our common understandings of it, circulate through intimate reencounters, both radical and mundane.

The artwork at Holland Park Tube station resonates with the LGBTQ+ history of the local area. In the early 1970s, the Gay Liberation Front held ‘Gay Days’ in Holland Park, a precursor to Pride celebrations. Across the road from the station, 27 Holland Park Avenue was the site of ‘Lady Austin’s’ famous drag balls in the 1930s, where people could safely gather to celebrate and experiment with gender expression and sexuality. The gatherings were hosted by the ostentatious Lady Austin, a 24-year-old barman called John P. Information about the events was spread with flyers through a network of hospitality employees across London. In 1932, one ball was subject to a police raid and the organisers were sentenced to imprisonment. Upon being arrested, Lady Austin reportedly asked, ‘What harm are we doing? You don’t understand our love’. These events and other legacies of LGBTQ+ activism in London are vital to preserve and maintain in our contemporary moment.

Through ‘Come Out, Come Out’, Hayes explores the historical registers of language and is a timely reminder that holding space to come out – in resistance and in joy – is our most powerful collective act.

Zadie Xa: Aldgate East

Art on the Underground with Whitechapel Gallery present ‘Griffin and Guardian’ and ‘Underworlds Connect’, two new public artworks at Aldgate East Underground station by London based Canadian-Korean artist Zadie Xa. Launching 21 March 2023 and on view for one year, this new work focuses on mythologies and the history of the Tube environment, in dialogue with her solo exhibition at the neighbouring Whitechapel Gallery titled House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness which runs until 30 April 2023.

The research for this new work at the eastern exit/entrance of Aldgate East is also inspired by the mythical griffin, which was used as an official symbol by London Transport from 1933 until the late 1950s. The griffin features on the tiles at Aldgate East station and was the work of designer and craftsman Harold Stabler (1872–1945) who designed a series of 18 bespoke embossed tiles that are interspersed along the platform level walls.

The resulting two paintings, reproduced for Aldgate East in vinyl, are titled ‘Underworlds Connect’ and ‘Griffin and Guardian’. The artworks present two scenes of animals acting as guardians or portals at the station entrance. Xa’s work often uses the presence of tigers, foxes and seagulls as animal guides, disrupters or tricksters to lead us or inspire new journeys, as embodiments of ecological, political and social shifts.

‘Griffin and Guardian’ reimagines the TfL griffin as a seagull and fox hybrid, two everyday London creatures taking the place of the majestic lion and eagle. This new griffin appears with a haetae, a Korean mythological animal and both stand like custodians or guards of the station. For Xa this new griffin shifts the power status of the original symbol to a more day-to-day contemporary emblem. The fox/seagull griffin is aligned to how she and many Londoners manoeuvre around the city and negotiate London as a social and economically complex place.

The second work, ‘Underworlds Connect’, shows a three eyed white tiger stepping out of a conch shell echoing the evocation of an animal guide into a portal or entrance way.  Conch shells are often used in Xa’s work, representing a time travelling device, a communication receptor and a home. The conch and the third eye of the tiger are used as mythical visual references; to Xa they suggest time travel, speculative futures, pasts and worlds. The work asks us to consider how we learn from multiples places and times, live in between them and forge newness. This connects to how Xa’s work often explores the multiple narratives within hybrid and diasporic identity.

In both works there are wave-like cloud paths representing the tube tunnel systems or other pathways of journeying, cosmic or urban. These backgrounds draw on Xa’s sense of travelling under the city as some type of interstellar time travel, as passengers sit in capsules speeding through the known and unknown.

Barby Asante

A new artwork poster for London Underground stations on display from 6 March 2023, marks the start of a new commission titled Declaration of Independence, an ongoing project by London based artist Barby Asante.

Throughout spring and summer 2023 Asante will collaborate with workers at Transport for London on a new iteration of this seminal performative artwork, to create a new Declaration of Independence. This process will build up to a performance at Stratford Underground station in September 2023, with visual outcomes at Stratford, Bethnal Green and Notting Hill Gate.

Declaration of Independence brings together a group of Black and POC women and non-binary people into a space for conversation, writing, collective thinking, ritual and re-enactment towards a collective public performance.
Through a process of dialogue and writing, performative declarations are created that reveal stories, dreams and forgotten histories to articulate and imagine strategies and possibilities in a collective ritual of declaration.

Asante says: “We come together to reflect on how the political affects the personal and how cultural implications of historic declarations, policies and legislations impact on their lives; to consider the possibilities for collective actions for the future and to rethink our understanding of monumental moments in world history such as declarations of independence.”

The process of this project will also draw on research into the TfL photography archives connecting histories of black and non-white women workers to our current moment to reflect on how histories also inform the present.

This collaborative, performative and dialogic work will be Asante’s first major commission in public space and will draw on her ongoing commitment to the politics of place, space, memory and drawing on her research with Akan Adrinka symbology and principles to consider ways to undo the persistent legacies of coloniality.

2023 Programme Announcement

Art on the Underground’s programme for 2023 comprises ambitious and critically engaged new works. Responding to London Underground as a constantly changing site of multiple histories, communities, actions and reactions, the 2023 programme will present new works that address this daily reality through performance, sound, visual and sculptural interventions.

Art on the Underground is committed to working with a diverse range of contemporary artists to reflect on how we move through and have a collective experience of public space. How might an artwork point to, embody and be a part of these conversations? What does it mean to encounter this work in public space? Art on the Underground continue to interrogate these questions, bringing leading international artists to the city to reflect London’s diversity.

Art on the Underground’s 2023 programme features major commissions situated across London including:

  • A major project with British artist and Turner Prize nominee Monster Chetwynd along the 60 metre long disused platform at Gloucester Road station on 18 May 2023.
  • Barby Asante will develop her seminal work ‘Declaration of Independence’, with a major performance in September 2023 at Stratford station
  • For his first international public commission, Italian artist Jem Perucchini will create a new artwork for Brixton station in November 2023.
  • American artist Sharon Hayes will create a new artwork for Holland Park station and the 38th pocket Tube map.
  • The launch of a series of artist-led collaborations with the Mayor’s Culture and Community Spaces at Risk team, bringing new audio works to the city. The first commission in the summer of 2023 will be with Shenece Oretha.
  • Canadian-Korean artist Zadie Xa will create new work for Aldgate East Tube station in March 2023 which focuses on the mythologies of the Tube environment, in dialogue with her installation at the neighbouring The Whitechapel Gallery.
  • British artist and photographer Joy Gregory will create new commissions for the pocket Tube Map.

Newbury Park: A Space Less Ordinary

This exhibition of artworks at Newbury Park Underground station marks the first in a new series of curatorial collaborations between Art on the Underground and TfL station colleagues. The programme is a way to collectively generate new artwork displays in stations and install artwork produced by members of London Underground’s Operational team.

‘Newbury Park: A Space Less Ordinary’ is a series of photographs by Robert Bassett that manipulate scenes of the iconic London Underground, specifically at Newbury Park Underground station – the trains, the station architecture, and the neighbouring bus station.

The artworks presented here playfully turn architecture into spaceship forms and distort familiar station spaces with shadows and colour filters to create speculative new future worlds and scenes – an experimental filter and understanding on the ordinary.

This new series of artwork exhibits is a way to generate new perspectives into everyday public space through artworks created by those working in stations daily, stimulating creativity and creating new collaborations and affinities with people and places.

Robert Bassett is an artist and musician who has worked at TfL for 25 years. Currently working as a Customer Station Supervisor at Newbury Park these photographs reimagine the station through a highly saturated and often futuristic-like lens. The everyday workplace becomes transformed through abstraction. By maximising colour and repeating and distorting form and shape, these images explore a new sense of place from the perspective of operational work at the station. The process of producing these images takes place at all hours and encompasses the changes to perspective that shift work can bring.

About his work, Robert said: “I’m excited to see them on display and interested in hearing what people will make of them. I hope it will help to brighten customers’ day a little and get them thinking about something different on their journey.”

Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence at St James's Park

 ‘Stooped in Courage’ is the second poem from the Art on the Underground Writer in Residence Ayesha Kundi. The writing is inspired by two temporary artworks exhibited in London Underground stations: Rhea Storr at Heathrow T4, Notting Hill Gate, Bethnal Green and Stratford Underground stations and Shanti Panchal at Brixton Underground station.

 ‘Stooped in Courage’ is installed on the platform of St James’s Park Underground Station as an artwork poster, launched November 24th 2022 and on view for one year.

The poem addresses identity and personal belonging in public space – how bodies are read, how we feel and the social and political pressure on diasporic experience and visibility in the UK.

Ayesha Kundi is a London-based writer, artist and social media creator and has worked as a Customer Service Assistant for 7 years at Tfl. Ayesha’s work is inspired by her personal experiences, her passion for reading, contemporary art forms and a deep love for her cultural heritage.

The Art on the Underground Writer in Residence is a creative opportunity for a TfL staff member to develop their writing by working with Art on the Underground.

The Writer in Residence programme will highlight and amplify the creative voices within TfL, creating engaging responses to Art on the Underground artists and artworks throughout 2022.

Stooped in Courage – Ayesha Kundi

You tell me stories
Of black and white
Of brown and pale
Of people in disguise

Are we not
Flesh and bones
Blood and stones
Stooped in courage

Our prospects
Lie in a higher power
Our power

Are we the children
Of a lesser God
Or just the
Of our

For you
We are strangers
For you
We don’t belong

But your home was built
On our blood
On our sacrifice
On our two-toned tongue

So yes
We do belong
More than.

Routes/Roots: London

Art on the Underground are pleased to present the 37th commission for the pocket Tube map cover by London-based artist Do Ho Suh.

Do Ho Suh has created an embroidered facsimile of the iconic Tube map design focusing on the routes that he habitually uses around his home and studio. The work, titled Routes/Roots: London, connects to the artist’s interest in ideas of expanded domestic space. For Suh, the concept of ‘home’ encompasses the built environment and a conceptual space; a site of memory, imagining, and potential displacement. Home is an idea that speaks to us both as individuals and collectively in society. The commission comes at a time when most of us have been forced to question, or faced restrictions to travel, both local and international.

Central to Routes/Roots is an exploration of the patterns and idiosyncrasies of daily travel for everyone in London, during and following the pandemic. The Tube map cover connects to the new and old ways we navigate, the ways we move through and around the city.

Routes/Roots plays with the idea that the Tube map exists as a tool for rational navigation when in reality, we navigate according to more than just logic – often rerouting in favour of preferred neighbourhoods, quieter ones, to journey with others or to allow space for accidental errors or timetabling.

The act of tracing these familiar routes through embroidery suggests an act of remembrance, a rewriting and recrafting of daily journeys with a new sense of attention and looseness.

Routes/Roots relates to Suh’s practice of exploring familiar forms and spaces through unexpected fabrication techniques, many of which draw on traditional Korean crafts. The map is connected in part to a larger body of work that the artist has been developing over the pandemic – a series of ‘thread’ sculptures of quotidian objects that Suh has become newly familiarised with during the periods of lockdown.

This new work for the pocket Tube map cover expands on the artist’s central focuses of architecture, psychic space, and identity. Among his most notable works are fabric reconstructions of spaces in which he has lived throughout his life – from his family’s Hanok-style traditional home in Seoul, to his former studio in Berlin and current home in London. The rooms, the in between spaces, the objects and architectural features are carefully stitched. As with the embroidered pocket Tube map, Suh’s work reflects on home, migration and memory, and liminal spaces or lines of transit serve as metaphors for a sense of passage and identity.


Art on the Underground presents Endurance, a new large-scale public commission at Brixton Underground station by Shanti Panchal – launched 17 November 2022 and on view for one year.

Endurance is the sixth in a series of commissions at Brixton station, following on from Joy Labinjo, Helen Johnson, Denzil Forrester, Aliza Nisenbaum and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The programme invites artists to respond to the diverse narratives of the local murals painted in the 1980s, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.

Endurance is a reproduction of a large-scale watercolour artwork in which Panchal has painted a community portrait that observes our continued resilience and interdependency. Shown in the image are three scenes of Londoners – the people include an artist, an NHS worker, a waiter, people at work and at leisure. In the background are buildings, statues and sections of open public space that draw on the Brixton neighbourhood and wider context of London. The architecture seen behind the figures includes the Black Cultural Archives, Brixton Windmill and Tate Modern. Present among the scenes are The African and Caribbean War Memorial and the Cherry Groce Memorial Pavilion in Windrush Square. These draw into the artwork monuments to places and people that we celebrate, that we have lost, that been taken from us, where we gather and build anew.

Deeply influenced by the country of his birth, India, Panchal’s work is connected to his childhood years in Mesar, North Gujarat – the colours of his village, the embodied spirituality of family life and the intensity of a small farming community. The figures in Panchal’s work carry this interior world with them, their poses and faces reminiscent of early Jain Miniature paintings. The eyes in Panchal’s figures do not directly look at each other but the artist visually creates the suggestion of a third eye, which talks of a different connection between us of shared memory and spirituality.

Panchal’s artwork for Brixton was produced over six months with layers of watercolour pigment worked into the paper almost like the process of a fresco mural. The depth of colour this creates draws on the hues of Panchal’s childhood and creates an image as though sealed  with a meditative filter. There is an intentional slowness and care to this process of painting. Panchal holds conversations with the figures he is painting which creates an intimacy between the artist and the scene, drawing together memory, experience and the present in a composition that reflects our contemporary moment.

Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence 2022

Art on the Underground Staff Writer in Residence 2022.

Through My Scars is the first release from the Art on the Underground Writer in Residence Ayesha Kundi. Inspired by the permanent artwork for Westminster station by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong, titled ‘PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE (UNION)‘, 2022.

The Art on the Underground Writer in Residence 2022 is a brand-new opportunity for a TfL staff member to develop their writing by working with Art on the Underground.

The Writer in Residence programme will highlight and amplify the creative voices within TfL, creating engaging responses to Art on the Underground artists and artworks throughout 2022.


Through my Scars

My limit is the sky
Filled with stars
And stairways
Unending whirls
And the colour yellow

I speak of joy
Through my scars
As I shed my golden cape

I walk through the sacrifices
Made by my fathers
And their fathers
On the streets I now call home

Wearing on my shoulders
The weight
And the pride
All in one
As I slowly stride on

My mothers and sisters
My daughters and children
Make merry and joy
On a land filled in riches
In adinkra

Long live the joys
Long live the peace


-Ayesha Kundi, 2022




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