Oil Stick Work

John Gerrard

13 May 2010 – 22 May 2011

Part of the following series:

Jubilee Line Series

As part of One Thing Leads to Another – Everything is Connected, a series of contemporary art projects for the Jubilee line, Irish artist John Gerrard presented a large-scale installation of his work Oil Stick Work (Angelo Martinez / Richfield, Kansas) 2008 on a vast bespoke wall in Canary Wharf station.

Using customised game-design software to craft stunningly accurate virtual worlds, Gerrard projects a complex digital moving image that eerily develops in real time and will continue to do so over the next 30 years. The viewer joins this hyper-real scene three years into its slowly unfolding story on a desolate Midwest prairie.

At daybreak (PST), the tiny figure of Angelo Martinez, a Mexican-American builder, arrives at a solitary aluminium corn silo and carefully paints a perfect black one metre square on the exterior of the structure with an oil stick crayon. Working a six-day week, from dawn to dusk, Martinez will painstakingly paint the entire building, transforming it into a black void on the virtual landscape. On the 20th December Angelo will finish painting the first wall and at dawn (CST) on the 21st December will start a new wall. In 2038, he will complete the task and leave the scene.

The viewer is left in no doubt, Martinez could be anyone of us making a futile but resolute attempt to change the way things are, one stroke at a time. It’s no coincidence that Gerrard invites the commuters of Canary Wharf to watch the Mexican’s daily progress over the course of the year that his vast ‘virtual sculpture’ is on show at the station.

See John Gerrard’s work on YouTube

Free Project Notes accompany this Series

Visiting Information

Artworks for this project are not currently available to visit. The stations where they were / will be installed are listed below.


  • I thought this would make more sense when I saw it than reading about it, but it didn’t. Why stick to US time (so it’s pitch dark on the screen until nearly lunchtime) when it’s virtual rather than happening live? It all happens too slowly, and if the virtual painting won’t be finished until 2038 why is it being taken away already as that end of the station has no other use. I might have formed an attachment to it over the years and kept an eye on it every so often, knowing it would outlast my working life. A few seats would have enabled visitors to relax watching the view rotate.


  • Really nice your work. welcome to Bangladesh. We are waiting for you ……

    manabendra ghosh