Art on London's Subway Keeps the Commuters Coming Back

© Thierry Bal Jacqueline Poncelet Wrapper Commissioned and produced by Art on the Underground, 2012

There's art in London's Underground (subway) system, and it's no accident. It's all part of Art on the Underground: a programme to bring excellent art and design to Tube riders. And make riding the subway more enjoyable.

It's quite a goal and quite a legacy. The programme has been going since 2003. Here's a survey of the rich offerings, by subway stop, on view right now.

1. White City

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

At White City subway stop, this installation by Anna Barham is a series of posters hung in the Tube entrance and along the hall ways.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The QR codes link up to images of the train ride as well as text and video works; so it's art on several levels.

2. Notting Hill

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Hard Metal Body, by Alice Channer is at Notting Hill subway stop. These images of elliptical rings in different sizes go up and down the whole length of the escalator walls, on either side, creating a continuous piece of art work. They seem to float above the handrails. As you move up or down the escalator, the rings seem to move with you, like in a flip book.

3. Green Park

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Sea Strata is outside the entrance to the Green Park tube. It is a stunning mural, made out of Portland stone, a limestone that continues to be used for many of London’s buildings. It's a lovely creamy colour and is a transition between the (Green) park beyond and the busy street. The floor is paved with granite from various countries, each slab marked with a spiral.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Carved into the stone is a series of drawn shapes that are inspired by sea fossils and the remains of marine creatures from 150 million years ago.

4. Gloucester Road

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Big Ben, by Sarah Morris is a big piece of work; spanning eighteen arches across the entire length of the disused subway platform. It's a moving riot of colour and geometry that you can see out of the subway car windows as you enter and leave the platform. Big Ben is the starting point, with references to architecture and time and movement.

5. Central Line

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The artist Michael Landy encouraged commuters to commit "Acts of Kindness" by submitting short stories of kindness that they have seen or experienced on the Central line of the London subway system. The sometimes touching stories are posted on the walls.

6. Edgware Road

© Thierry Bal Jacqueline Poncelet Wrapper Commissioned and produced by Art on the Underground, 2012

The newest addition: a ceramic tile mural covering 1,500 sq. m. that gloriously animates a boring building and a busy road.

Tags: Artists | Designers | London | Public Transportation


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