I have grown to hate the London Underground. I’ve spent 20 years rattling up and down its decrepit routes, in deafening carriages where human beings are subjected to conditions long-since outlawed for cattle, tripping over tourists and wasting hours just waiting. So I’m eternally thankful for the little rays of sunshine that are the stock in trade of LU’s estimable Platform For Art programme. While we’ve written before about its series of artists’ covers for the tube map, its latest project, is on a far grander scale. A Piccadilly Line tube train has been transformed into a 100-metre-long work of art.
As part of Thin Cities, a series of commissions to celebrate the line’s centenary (and named after Italo Calvino’s book, Invisible Cities), US artist Jim Isermann was commissioned to wrap the entire length of a Piccadilly Line train in an original artwork. The trains have been used for ads before, but nothing like this, which is purely graphic and bears no text or sponsors’ logos. It will run until October.
Designed in Isermann’s distinctive modernist style, the bold prints have been created in two opposing colours, orange and blue, to cover the different sides of the train. The train doors are coated in the contrast colour to the body of the train, so that they remain distinctive (a necessary safety measure). The wrap uses a geometric pattern familiar from previous Isserman works, including his series of vacuum-formed sculptures show below.
Trains have been used before for art projects, notably the Tokyo Art Jungle Train, a project from 2002 in which eight artists and artist groups from the Tokyo Art Jungle show used an 11-car train from the world’s busiest train line – the East Japan Rail Yamanote line – as an installation space.
Whiter Hair, Softer Teeth by Namaiki
Word Space by 2dk. Images: 2dk
While last week, a group of New York artists attempted to instill some civility into their journey on the F Train with the No Train Like Home project, in which a car was transformed into a cozy sitting room.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, on the Piccadilly Line, Richard Woods has decorated part of Leicester Square station in his trademark woodgrained vinyl
while, at Knightsbridge station, Heather and Ivan Morison have created Zoorama, a sound installation featuring a year of wildlife sound recordings from the British Library Sound Archive.
Wonderful: now, can you please do something about the Northern Line?