Art on the Underground: Giles Round and Assemble commissioned to celebrate London Tube
London life is about to get infinitely better. This, as any city-dweller will attest, is because the tubes will run 24-hour services as of September – and the Victoria line in particular will get a new lease of life courtesy of Art on the Underground, Transport for London’s contemporary art initiative.
Unveiled this week, their latest project, ’Underline’, will include the network’s first music commission and a joint venture with Turner Prize-nominated architectural collective Assemble.
The year-long celebration reflects the ethos of Walthamstow-born artist William Morris, who rightly believed that great art should be for everybody. Morris was a key influence on Frank Pick, managing director of London Underground in the early 20th century, who steered the graphic identity of the transport line we now know so well, instituting Edward Johnston’s roundel, the Johnston font and Harry Beck’s Tube Map, among other now-ubiquitous elements.
Drawing on the belief that good design leads to a better society, Giles Round’s Design Work Leisure aims ’to intervene into the fabric of the Victoria line’ by producing prototypes of functional objects that can be used on the tube. Tiles, clocks, lighting and sign posts are all expected to be included, as well as a limited edition Oyster card wallet which will be handed out at every Victoria line station.
In a similar vein of wanting to improve society through design and architecture, Assemble will tackle the entrance/exit at Seven Sisters – a location associated with anti-social behaviour issues. The group will take inspiration from subterranean geology to inform their above ground interventions.
Come autumn, short films by Liam Gillick (themselves shot across the tube network) will be screened on platforms and composer Matt Rogers will create a piece of music to be performed live in stations by members of the London Sinfonietta during spring 2016.
Closing the ’Underline’ project will be Brixton-based artist Zineb Sedira, with a film and photographic series.