Wrapper is a permanent work of art by Jacqueline Poncelet, made especially to clad the new building and perimeter wall next to Edgware Road (Circle line) Tube station. The work, created in vitreous enamel, dresses the building in a grid of patterns developed by the artist. Each pattern relates to a different part of the local area and was made in response to the images and ideas that she has developed through her research there over the past three years. Like an enormous patchwork, Wrapper tells the story of the place in which it sits, weaving together elements from local history and the natural environment, the area’s architecture and its people.
Set in the urban environment of central London, Wrapper joins a diverse landscape of buildings, with a mixture of scales, functions and architectural designs. It stands out as a bright and colourful object whilst simultaneously blending in as a new addition to an area already full of constructions of all kinds and ages, from office blocks and houses to shops and schools. A work on this scale could have dominated the area, but Poncelet’s mix of patterns brings a kind of fragmentation to the building that helps to integrate it with its neighbours. In the busy environment of the Edgware Road area, the design also reflects the way in which the building will be viewed: more often in parts than as a whole.
Depending on where the viewer stands in relation to the artwork, Wrapper reveals a variety of stories. From the platform, for example, the fringe of the station’s roof can be recognised in the zig-zag pattern integrated into the work. On the other side of the building, local residents who can view it from their windows, or the people who pass by on foot, will see many more elements from the local area: the detailed tracings of leaves reference the trees in Regents Park, while the delicate water pattern suggests the Tyburn stream that runs underground nearby. Seen from a distance or as a fleeting glimpse from a vehicle on Marylebone Road, Poncelet’s patterns, some of which she made from a drawing of cars, will look quite different again. The colours all reflect those of the Tube map, hinting at the building’s connection to it.
In Wrapper, and throughout Poncelet’s artistic practice, patterns and colours play a key role as storytellers. She uses them in carefully considered configurations and each has a very particular place and purpose in the overall composition. Through this visual choreography, the artist aims to generate illusionary spaces or simply to modulate stillness and movement. “A pattern not only speaks of other places, but of changes in our culture and the passage of time”, says Poncelet. With the patterns devised for Wrapper, she has replicated how we choose what we see in a complex and busy environment. By condensing her experience of the area and her understanding of the site through these motifs, she highlights the pleasures large and small that a place can awaken in us. This is the largest work created by Poncelet to date; indeed, it is the largest vitreous enamel artwork in Europe.
Alongside the installation Wrapper, Art on the Underground has commissioned artist Jessie Brennan to work with station staff and local community groups including the St Marylebone Society, residents at 60 Penfold Street and students from City of Westminster College to develop a new drawing titled Everything Meets Here that parallels some of the research methods employed by Poncelet in her work.