Emma Kay was the first artist commissioned for the Tube Map cover.
You Are in London (2004) is an image that is deceptive in its apparent simplicity, and its own identity is inextricably linked with that of London Underground. It is a multi-coloured target that playfully combines the Tube-line colours with art-historical references, graphic design and our collective memory. Kay’s concentric circle composition, which exclusively comprises the colours that represent each of the Tube lines, prompts a double-take as we work out why it seems so familiar.
Kay’s use of a common motif – the target – relates this work to many themes. It could suggest that being in London means that you are on target, possibly even at the centre of things. But Kay also wants to remind us of the frequent recurrence of the target in the work of other artists: Jasper Johns, Ugo Rondinone and Kenneth Noland to name but three.
In all of her work, Kay is interested in how objective facts and figures are subjected to the eccentricities of our memories. You Are in London is Kay’s own memory audit of the Tube-line colours. Combining a popular symbol with a familiar set of colours, she lays claim to both.