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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.

 

Underline: Design Work Leisure

Art on the Underground is pleased to announce a new series of permanent artworks devised by Design Work Leisure (DWL) installed at Blackhorse Road, Victoria and Vauxhall stations between 2015 – 2017.

Design Work Leisure (DWL) is a design office established by artist Giles Round in 2015 as part of Underline a series of art commissions for the Victoria line. DWL revisits the values and vision of Arts & Crafts exponent William Morris who believed that great art should be for everybody. The project also celebrates the legacy of Frank Pick, managing director of London Underground in the early 20th century who commissioned many of the great design tropes of London Underground including the Johnston typeface and Harry Beck’s Tube map.

DWL’s designs utilise historical models of production, working with London Underground tile manufacturers Craven Dunnill Jackfield and in doing so the project provides a critical lens to examine contemporary aesthetics and the hierarchies between applied and fine arts.

Drawing on the belief that good design leads to a better society, Round’s office launched in Summer 2015 with a design directive for the Victoria line. Distributed for free in every Underground station, the Directive outlined DWL’s design aims and objectives for producing functional yet quality crafted objects for use in the network. Over the 12-month period of the project, Design Work Leisure built on London Underground’s rich design heritage to devise, research and develop bespoke products for the physical environment of the network, for staff and passengers to enjoy.

 

 

 

Underline: Assemble and Matthew Raw

Clay Station is a collaboration between Assemble and the artist Matthew Raw commissioned by Art on the Underground.

Building on London Underground’s rich heritage of ceramics, the project involves the production of more than a thousand hand-made tiles as part of the refurbishment and remodelling of a commercial unit at the entrance to Seven Sisters Underground Station which has lain empty for more than a decade.

This technique entails colouring blocks of plain white clay with body stain and mixing together different combinations before they are sized, rolled, moulded, cut, dried, fired and glazed. The resulting tiles formed from this process will be used to clad the exterior of the building and each one will be unique.

To accompany the project Art on the Underground in collaboration with A New Direction and Create Jobs hired two trainees. The two traineeships provided clay induction training, followed by hands-on making experience with artist Matthew Raw and members of Assemble. Funded by Arts Council England.

'Diamonds and Circles', works 'in situ'

‘Diamonds and Circles’ works ‘in situ’ is the first permanent public commission in the UK by the acclaimed French artist, Daniel Buren. The artwork transforms Tottenham Court Road station with Buren’s signature geometric patterns across the vast central ticket hall and multiple station entrances.

Buren’s designs play with simple concepts; shapes, colours and stripes. Buren has created a colourful series of large-scale diamond and circle shapes fixed to the station’s internal glass walls. 2.3m in height and diameter, the diamond and circle shapes repeat through the space. A cabinet containing the ‘parents’ of the forms in three dimensions is installed in a vitrine inside the ticket hall.

‘Diamonds and Circles’ makes us look again at the space of Tottenham Court Road station. It measures out the physical space with stripe and shape, and also asks us to consider the pace and path we take passing through the station. The work sits firmly within Buren’s illustrious practice, and yet presents the public with something wholly new.

Daniel Buren is largely considered France’s greatest living artist and one of the most significant contributors to the conceptual art movement. His major public art interventions can be seen worldwide at locations including The Palais-Royal in Paris; Odaïba Bay, Tokyo and the Ministry of Labour, Berlin. This is his first permanent public commission in the UK offering millions of Tube users and wider public a unique chance to enjoy a world-class piece of contemporary art.

Sea Strata

Sea Strata is a permanent work of art for Green Park Underground station by Royal Academician John Maine. The work was a significant and integral element of the improvement and upgrading of the station. Maine was commissioned by Art on the Underground, to develop a unified work for the walls and flooring of all the station buildings above ground.

The concept of John Maine’s work for Green Park station is grounded in the natural world, reflecting the location between the urban character of Piccadilly and the more rural Green Park beyond.

Green Park Underground station is one of busiest interchange stations on the London Underground system. The major improvements to the station include step-free access between street and platform levels, a new station canopy on the south side of Piccadilly over an enlarged staircase into the station, and restructured station buildings which frame the views from Piccadilly into The Royal Park. These buildings provide the principal area for Maine’s artwork.

Labyrinth at Green Park station

Labyrinth

VISIT THE LABYRINTH WEBSITE: Project essay, 270 station pages with photographs, videos and archive of the London-wide engagement programme

Mark Wallinger, one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, created a major new artwork for London Underground to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013. The result, commissioned by Art on the Underground, is a multi-part work on a huge scale that is installed in every one of the Tube’s 270 stations. Wallinger sees the commission as a unique opportunity to explore the potential of the Underground as a whole. Wishing to forge a poetic link with the Tube’s rich history of graphic language, he has made a work that sits comfortably alongside the two of its major design icons, the roundel and Harry Beck’s Tube map, and yet stands out as a new symbol marking the Tube’s 150th year.

 

Wrapper

Wrapper is a permanent work of art by Jacqueline Poncelet, made especially to clad the new building and perimeter wall next to Edgware Road (Circle line) Tube station. The work, created in vitreous enamel, dresses the building in a grid of patterns developed by the artist. Each pattern relates to a different part of the local area and was made in response to the images and ideas that she has developed through her research there over the past three years. Like an enormous patchwork, Wrapper tells the story of the place in which it sits, weaving together elements from local history and the natural environment, the area’s architecture and its people.

Set in the urban environment of central London, Wrapper joins a diverse landscape of buildings, with a mixture of scales, functions and architectural designs. It stands out as a bright and colourful object whilst simultaneously blending in as a new addition to an area already full of constructions of all kinds and ages, from office blocks and houses to shops and schools. A work on this scale could have dominated the area, but Poncelet’s mix of patterns brings a kind of fragmentation to the building that helps to integrate it with its neighbours. In the busy environment of the Edgware Road area, the design also reflects the way in which the building will be viewed: more often in parts than as a whole.

Full Circle

Full Circle is a two-part work created especially for King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground station commissioned by Art on the Underground. It is an integral part of the station, installed in 2009 and 2011 as part of an upgrade project including two new ticket halls.

The work was conceived to be situated at the end of two new concourses, one for the Northern Line and the other for the Piccadilly line. Each of the sculptures reflect the context of the modernised station and its distinctive architectural style and language. They propose a reconsideration of this site and a re-examination of the way the station has been constructed for the contemporary city it serves.

The starting points for Full Circle are the circular end walls of the two concourse tunnels. In both instances, and as is common throughout the Tube, the circle is truncated where it meets the floor, implying a ‘lost’ segment beneath. This segment has been ‘reinstated’; conceptually exhumed by Henriksen and mounted as an integral architectural feature of the wall. In each case, the segment was fabricated by the station upgrade contractor from the same materials (shot-peened stainless steel in one case, stainless steel grid in the other) as the walls themselves. The result is almost incognito, yet remains elegantly obvious.