The Bower of Bliss


November 2018

Art on the Underground present a major public commission by British artist Linder at Southwark station, on view until May 2020.

The work, the first large-scale public commission by Linder in London, consists of an 85 metre long street-level billboard at Southwark station and a cover commission for the 29th edition of the pocket Tube map.

Linder has spent four months as artist-in-residence, carefully researching and mapping a vertical history of Southwark. The artist’s starting point begins in the belly of the architecture at Southwark station. Designed by Richard McCormack and opened in 1999, the station was inspired  in part by the 18th Century notion of the English landscape garden and sought to create a place of peace and tranquility, a refuge from urban life. Further research draws on local collections including Southwark Council’s Cuming Museum Collection, the London Transport Museum Collection, and Transport for London’s lost property office as source material for an ambitious photomontage that will wrap the entire station façade at Southwark station.

The Bower of Bliss manifests at Southwark station in the histories, myths and fables of the many women Linder has uncovered during her residency in Southwark. From Londinium sex workers in AD 43; to an 1815 illustration of the Night Queen from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute inspiration for the station architects; to the women who run London Underground today, Linder’s photomontage reclaims the representation of women from the male gaze to form a picture of empowerment for women everywhere.

This commission forms part of a new body of work initiated by Linder at Chatsworth House and Glasgow Women’s Library between 2017 and 2018. The title, The Bower of Bliss, references the etymology of ‘bower’ and its use in the notion of a ‘bower of bliss’ from its origins as a garden dwelling; as a site for excess and lust, and finally as Victorian slang for the female form. Reclaiming the phrase Linder will turn Southwark station into a sanctuary, creating a billboard that will change each season throughout the exhibition period. Reacting to current socio-political surroundings each layer will create a new collage in keeping with the artist’s infamous style.

Linder has been working with photomontage for the past three decades, created from images lifted from erotic, women’s fashion and domestic magazines. The photomontages manipulate and disrupt to challenge cultural expectations of women and in particular the female body as commodity.

Linder consulted the following organisations to inform her Art on the Underground commission at Southwark station: The Cuming Museum Collection, London Transport Museum, Museum of London, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Royal Horticultural Society, Zoological Society London.

The commission coincided with a major new performance piece on 9 November 2018.

This new commission forms part of Art on the Underground’s 2018 programme of exclusively female artists.

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Art on the Underground’s 2018 programme is supported by THE OUTNET.COM