Mark Wallinger’s Underground Labyrinth

Artist Mark Wallinger has just unveiled his new commission for the London Underground. Labyrinth consists of a series of wall-mouted mazes that will be installed at all 270 of the network’s stations

Mark Wallinger, Labyrinth, 2013 © The Artist, Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013

Artist Mark Wallinger has just unveiled his new commission for the London Underground. Labyrinth consists of a series of wall-mouted mazes that will be installed at all 270 of the network’s stations…

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Underground, Art on the Underground commissioned Wallinger to create an artwork that would link each and every tube stop on the system. The artworks will be placed in stations over the next six months.

Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013

The work, Labyrinth, is a series of small enamelled panels, each featuring a different black and white maze. Each one is also numbered as in the tradition of editioned artworks.

In fact, the numbers relate to a particular record-breaking tube journey made in 2009 and refer to the order that stations were visited in the ‘Tube Challenge’ where participants aim to pass through every single station on the network in the fastest time.

Mark Wallinger, Labyrinth, 2013 © The Artist, Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013

Wallinger’s designs are produced in vitreous enamel – echoing the more regular Underground signage – and the maze device links nicely with the task of negotiating the network itself.

As we report in our forthcoming special issue on the design of the Underground (CR March), the maze device has featured on the system before.

Photography by Sam Hart

Alan Fletcher’s maze for the seat recesses at Warren Street station was created with the commuter with a three minute wait for the next train in mind (the design is a pun on ‘warren’).

At Oxford Circus, on the Bakerloo line, mosaic wall motifs by Nicolas Munro suggest the flow of passengers in a maze-like environment.

Photograph: Wikipedia Commons

The next issue of CR will include a host of Underground design-related features, including a piece on the station graphics, mosaics and public art installations that have graced the Underground since its founding.

Fletcher’s maze was one of a larger 16-piece Victoria line mural project, commissioned for the opening of the line which occured in stages between 1969 and 1972. Abram Games, Tom Eckersley and Edward Bawden also created tile designs for the project.

Wallinger’s installation taps into this underworld of warrens and mazes, giving commuters a puzzle to play with wherever they might be on the Underground.

Mark Wallinger, Labyrinth, 2013 © The Artist, Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013

Mark Wallinger, Labyrinth, 2013 © The Artist, Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013

Mark Wallinger, Labyrinth, 2013 © The Artist, Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013

Mark Wallinger, Labyrinth, 2013 © The Artist, Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London. Photograph © Thierry Bal, 2013


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