Customers using Transport for London (TfL)’s newly launched Elizabeth line can enjoy public artworks in stations and surrounding public spaces by acclaimed British and international artists including Turner Prize winner Richard Wright, British artists Chantal Joffe and Simon Periton and American artist Spencer Finch.
The artworks pay homage to their local areas and communities, building on a long history and philosophy of putting art at the centre of the capital’s transport system to enhance the passenger experience.
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Each artwork has been designed to interact both physically and conceptually with individual stations, demonstrating the benefit of site-specific commissioning.
Across the central section stations of the Elizabeth line, customers are currently able to view the following artworks:
- ‘A Cloud Index’ by American artist Spencer Finch at Paddington station. The 120-metre long and 18-metre wide artwork features 32 different types of clouds drawn in pastel by the artist and printed onto glass panels, creating a picture of the sky in the tradition of English landscape paintings by Constable and Turner. It can be seen on the station canopy in the concourse area by the ticket gates of the Elizabeth line station
- ‘no title’ by Turner Prize winner Richard Wright at Tottenham Court Road station. It features an intricate, geometric gold-leaf pattern, hand gilded by the artist and a team of assistants. It can be found on the ceiling above the escalators in the Elizabeth line Tottenham Court Road station eastern ticket hall, located at Charing Cross Road
- ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Spectre’ by British artist Simon Periton at Farringdon station. ‘Avalanche’ features the tracery of large diamonds as a nod to the goldsmiths, jewelers, and ironsmiths of the nearby Hatton Garden. It can be found in the western ticket hall of the Elizabeth line station at Farringdon. ‘Spectre’ features an elaborate curved pattern printed on the exterior glazing that runs around three sides of the building, reflecting the Victorian metalwork of the nearby Smithfield Market. It can be seen at the eastern ticket hall of the Elizabeth line station, off Long Lane
- ‘A Sunday Afternoon in Whitechapel’ by London-based British artist Chantal Joffe at Whitechapel station. The artwork reflects the local east London community enjoying a typical Sunday afternoon. It can be seen spanning across the station’s platforms
- ‘Transitions’ by Israeli artist Michal Rovner at Canary Wharf station. It is a video artwork installation which is 16 metres long capturing architectural elements, monuments and movement of people throughout history and time. It is located at Crossrail Place which leads down to the Elizabeth line station ticket hall.
In addition to these artworks within the new Elizabeth line stations, British Afro-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce OBE RA – who recently won the Venice Biennale’s top Golden Lion prize –has created an artwork titled ‘Newham Trackside Wall’. At more than a mile long, it is one of the longest artworks in the UK and runs through Custom House, Silvertown and North Woolwich. The artwork is deeply reflective of the local community with contributions from over 170 testimonies from local residents woven into the final piece. ‘Newham Trackside Wall’ was commissioned by Crossrail, curated by UP Projects and engineered by Atkins. A dedicated website includes all the community testimonies and background information about the artwork can be found here: www.newhamtracksidewall.com
British artists Simon Periton and Chantal Joffe will today offer interviews to invited press alongside the backdrop of their pieces at Farringdon and Whitechapel stations respectively.
Artist Simon Periton said: “The work will be experienced in glimpses and that’s where a public artwork is different to putting a piece in a gallery… it will be observed for smaller amounts of time but more regularly, so it’s completely different viewing experience.”
Artist Chantal Joffe said: “All my thinking around this project has been about the journeys we make and how we make them our own – through the people we see on a daily basis, or private maps of significant places we carry in our heads. Part of the challenge has been to develop small intimate collages into large scale works and to retain a sense of the personal in a public space.”
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said: “I am delighted that customers using the newly launched Elizabeth line can enjoy major art installations across the central stations by acclaimed British and international artists. The opening of the line sees a huge expansion in artworks that can be enjoyed by the public as they make their journeys in London. We invite the public to step out of their daily routine to observe civic spaces anew.”
The Crossrail Art Foundation was founded in 2014 with support and funding from the City of London Corporation to establish and maintain a public art programme for the central Elizabeth line stations. The Crossrail Art Programme by the Crossrail Art Foundation aimed to link the stations to their local area and create inspirational spaces through a line-wide public art exhibition.
Ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth line, care of the artworks was transferred to TfL’s Art on the Underground team.
Art was commissioned for seven stations and paid for by funders and/or grant contributors. The City Corporation provided matched funding for half of the total cost of the Art Programme in central London Elizabeth line stations, plus a contribution towards set-up costs.
Michael Cassidy CBE, Chairman of the Crossrail Art Foundation said: “This moment marks the magnificent culmination of a decade-long process to create an arts legacy to match the engineering triumph of the Crossrail venture. At no cost to the railway project itself, the charity set out to deliver individual experiences at the below-surface stations that enhance the traveller environment and provide a talking-point relating to where each venue sits. We trust that the programme will excite and intrigue all who pass through.”
A video artwork by Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon is set to be installed at Tottenham Court Road Elizabeth line station’s new entrance at Dean Street. The looped video artwork, ‘Non-Stop’, is inspired by the local area, known for its history of non-stop nightlife, subculture performance and music venues and will be installed above the escalators. The final preparations for the artwork are currently underway.
Three abstract artworks by British artist Darren Almond will be available to view when Bond Street station opens – ‘Horizon Line’, ‘Shadow Line’ and ‘Time Line’. The artworks resemble the embossed metal nameplates that were affixed to early British locomotives and were made by the same heritage sign company that made many of the boilerplates for locomotives of the past. ‘Horizon Line’ consists of 144 individual hand-polished tiles echoing paths of travellers as they descend underground whilst ‘Shadow Line’ and ‘Time Line’ are train boiler plates bearing poetic phrases ‘REFLECT FROM YOUR SHADOW’ and ‘FROM UNDER THE GLACIER’ respectively. The three abstract artworks will be found on the ceiling and around the western ticket hall of the Elizabeth line station.
‘Manifold (Major Third) 5:4’ by British artist Conrad Shawcross RA will be found outside the western entrance to the Elizabeth line station at Liverpool Street later this year. The artwork is a vast bronze sculpture representing a chord falling into silence extrapolated from observations of a Victorian pendulum-driven drawing machine known as a harmonograph, which was instrumental in the birth of the science of synaesthesia. This sculpture is the physical incarnation of the mathematics within a chord.
‘Infinite Accumulation’ by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will be the final piece of the Crossrail Art Programme. Set to be installed in 2023, it features the artist’s signature motif – the polka dots – as four mirrored steel sculptures, each up to 12 metres wide and 10 metres tall. Once installed, it will be found in the public space outside the Elizabeth line Liverpool Street station eastern ticket hall at Broadgate.
Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation, Chris Hayward, said: “Not only will the Elizabeth line connect many more people directly to the City, but commuters and visitors alike can now enjoy art by Turner Prize winners and renowned British artists on their journeys.
“The City of London Corporation is proud to support the Crossrail Art Programme and a wide range of cultural schemes, which will ensure the Square Mile is a vibrant destination of choice for everyone.”
Art on the Underground recently presented the 36th commission for the pocket Tube map cover by London-based artist, Joy Labinjo. Her original artwork, titled ‘Twist Out’, captures an intimate mother-daughter routine as a mother is seen preparing her daughter’s hair for a ‘twist out’ hairstyle, drawing on the artist’s life experiences and memories as a British-Nigerian woman.
The launch of the Elizabeth line is set to transform travel across London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity, and transforming accessibility with spacious new stations and walk-through trains.
The new line is crucial to London’s recovery from the pandemic, helping avoid a car-led recovery by providing new journey options, supporting regeneration across the capital, and adding an estimated £42bn to the UK economy.