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Game of Forms

For the 28th edition of the pocket Tube map, Art on the Underground have commissioned Romanian artist Geta Brătescu to create a new artwork – marking the nonagenarian artist’s first public commission in the UK.

For Brătescu’s commission, she has created a collage which is part of her ongoing cycle Game of Forms (2009 – present). This work comprises vivid pink cut-outs with graphic, hand-drawn, black markings. Brătescu describes this collaging technique as ‘drawings with scissors’. The use of scissors give the vibrant pink triangles sharp contours while the imperfection of the heavy black lines, which are almost reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy, anchor the artwork in its materiality.

You in my bedroom

The Night Tube map cover series, first launched in 2016, works with early career artists, and coincides with Art on the Underground’s long standing series of Pocket Tube map covers, established in 2004.

You in my bedroom presents a portrait in which Marie Jacotey turns the male gaze o­­n its head, staging a voyeuristic image of a young man looking through his bedroom window at night. In the positioning of the subject with his back to the viewer, the portrait aims to evoke questions about the scene the observer is presented with. When making the work, Jacotey used her own experience of quiet, late night journeys by train and how these travels give space to ruminate and reflect. There is often a juxtaposition between loud, crowded groups heading towards or returning from late night social gatherings and tired, solitary travellers. For the cover of the map, Jacotey has drawn on this solitude using coloured pastel to create an intimate portrait of the night.

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.

Rainbow Aphorisms

Art on the Underground have worked with Studio Voltaire and the Estate of David McDiarmid to present a selection of the artist’s Rainbow Aphorisms series at Brixton Underground station.

David McDiarmid (1952–1995) was an Australian artist, designer and activist, recognised for his prominent and sustained artistic engagement in issues relating to queer identity and history. Rainbow Aphorisms are a series of printed multiples, produced from 1993 until the artist’s death in 1995 of AIDS–related  illnesses. McDiarmid produced these works in response to his own, and his community’s, experience of the AIDS crisis, and the multiple forms of devastations it manifests –political, emotional, intellectual and medical.

“I wanted to express myself and I wanted to respond to what was going on and I wanted to reach a gay male audience. I wanted to express very complex emotions and I didn’t know how to do it … I was in a bit of a dilemma. I thought, well, how can I get across these complex messages. I didn’t think it was simply a matter of saying gay is good.” – David McDiarmid, 1992.

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.

you don't know what nights are like?

The project focuses on night-time workers, with a number of interviews made with those who regularly work nights across a wide range of job roles. Those interviewed often work between 8 to 12 hour shifts, some have been doing so for over 15 years.

Tabrizian has taken an abstract approach to representing night-time workers. She has photographed the image of an individual walking through an empty landscape. The boundary of day to night is captured through a gloaming sky. The landscape appears at first glance to be rural, but is in fact in the city, with glimpsed train tracks and flat blocks beyond.

In a second image, devoid of people, an isolated building stands alone against a wide sky in a dawning light. These images stand in for a wider community of night time workers living as if on the edge of the city.

The works are displayed at huge scale at Southwark station, utilising billboards on The Cut and Blackfriars Road. Sitting prominently in the city centre, the project is an attempt to bring the margin to the centre, to indicate the significance of the people whose work is essential to London’s existence, without which the city would not survive.

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.