Internationally acclaimed artist Yinka Shonibare MBE was the fourth artist in the Tube Map cover series. Shonibare produced a map of the world that has been hand-drawn using the colours of the Tube map to reflect the diversity of London and the users of London Underground. The countries of the world have been given a subtle shift of identity by implying new relationships between them based on the colours of the Tube lines.
The landmasses of the world have been divided into a patchwork by superimposing an invisible grid similar to those created by the lines of latitude and longitude that appear on maps. The resulting grid has been filled in with a random patchwork composed of the colours of the Tube lines. This “global patchwork” also makes reference to the works using printed textiles for which the artist is renowned.
A map, whether of the world, or the Tube network, is a simplified schematic diagram. The map used by the artist is based on the Peters projection (1974), which portrays each country according to its true surface area. Traditional world maps have often been extremely distorted, showing Europe, North America and parts of Asia as much larger than they really are, reflecting the agendas of the commissioners of the maps, the times in which they were produced and the state of the world at the time of their creation. The colouring of maps has also been based on politics – using different colours to identify countries under the same administration.
Yinka Shonibare’s Global Underground Map is the artist’s vision of London – and London Underground and its users – as a microcosm of the world. London is a city defined by and celebrated for its identity as a truly multicultural and diverse city.
I think this is a most beautiful new design by Yinka Shonibare for the tube map. It’s fantastic that London Underground are continuing their long and excellent tradition of working with the best contemporary artists in London’s tube network!