Underline is a series of art and music commissions for the Victoria line, launched in July 2015.
The Crossrail of its day, the Victoria line from Walthamstow to Victoria was opened in 1969, the first new Underground line to be built in 60 years. With commissions from three visual artists, an architectural collective and a composer, Underline will draw inspiration from the character of one of the most intensively travelled lines on the network, and the organisations, communities and histories connected by it.
Underline launched with Giles Round’s commission, Design Work Leisure in July 2015. Composer Matt Rogers’ new music commissions are performed by members of London Sinfonietta live in stations in April 2016. In summer 2016, Liam Gillick screens a series of new films shot across the Underground network. Brixton-based artist Zineb Sedira presents a series of new film and photographic work in October 2016. Closing the programme, architectural collective Assemble are developing a new public site at Seven Sisters.
Thematically, the new commissions for Underline reflect on the ethos of Walthamstow-born Arts & Crafts exponent William Morris, who believed that great art should be for everybody. Morris was a significant influence on Frank Pick, managing director of London Underground in the early twentieth Century, Pick established the concept of ‘total design’, influenced by Morris, and many of his implementations remain including the Roundel logo, Johnston typeface and some of the system’s more iconic early 20th century architecture. Design Research Unit, well known for their work on the Festival of Britain in 1951, acted as consultants for the Victoria line, and it is an overlooked but pivotal part of London’s design heritage.
To deliver Underline, Art on the Underground is working with a number of leading organisations local to the Victoria line. William Morris Gallery near Walthamstow Central station and Black Cultural Archives in Brixton inform the series, providing ‘bookends’ geographically and historically. Both tell stories about how London and Britain became a diverse, culturally rich and mobile society.
Underline seeks to contribute to how we shape our public space and share experiences. It supports new work that directly addresses the Tube’s vast number of travellers as they pass through public space.