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Art made for the new Elizabeth tube line includes work by Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross


Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery

A new exhibition – which opens today (13 March) at the Whitechapel Gallery – showcases nine acclaimed artists’ prototypes for their public artworks to be displayed at various stations on London’s new Elizabeth line. Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line offers compelling insights into the creative processes involved in producing an accomplished piece of art; from the initial concept to final execution.

The new Elizabeth line is set to run across central and South East London and will include ten new stations. Each artist has been commissioned by the Crossrail Art Foundation – set up in 2014 to promote art to travellers and commuters – to draw on the local history and culture of each station. The exhibiting artists include Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross, alongside Chantal Joffe, Spencer Finch, Darren Almond, Douglas Gordon, Richard Wright, Simon Periton and Michal Rovner.

Douglas Gordon, for example, has created two double-neon sculptures that read “non-stop” and “revue” for Tottenham Court Road station. Iwona Blazwick, the Whitechapel Gallery’s director, explains that Douglas drew “on the fleshpots of Soho” and references “the strip clubs and bars that have given us the flashing neon lights and the texture of life around Soho Square.” Douglas’ work will be contrasted with a work by Richard Wright who – in true Renaissance style – will spend 11 weeks lying under the station’s ceiling, installing delicate gold-leaf patterns.

Bond Street station will be revamped by Darren Almond who is influenced by past railway features. “The roaring clack of mechanical train timetables” was the inspiration for Darren’s metallic figures and fragmented numbers Iwona explains. “He also reaches even further back to the locomotives to the big plaques the name of the train itself inscribed on them. Darren located the foundry that created the great boiler nameplates and transferred poetic texts onto them,” Iwona continues. “Reflect from your shadows” is written on the metallic plaques, which Iwona says have an existentialist sense to them.

Liverpool Street station will be transformed by two renowned artists Conrad Shawcross and Yayoi Kusama. Conrad Shawcross’ sketches and sculptures draw on sound: “They are sonic waves that are translated into pure form. The artist has produced a beautiful series of drawings that seem to be about velocity and volume. These drawings, in turn, translate into a dynamic sculpture that will become a permanent installation in the public realm of Liverpool Street station,” Iwona says. Conrad Shawcross’ pieces will be displayed alongside work by Yayoi Kusama, who has interpreted her signature polkadot as a series of molecular-like structures. They will each be 10 metres long and four metres high.

Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line will run at the Whitechapel Gallery from 13 March to 6 May 2018.


Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery


Yayoi Kusama’s sculpture for Liverpool Street station. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery


Chantal Joffe’s artwork for Whitechapel station. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery


Chantal Joffe’s artwork for Whitechapel station. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery


Conrad Shawcross’ sculpture for Liverpool Street station. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery


Darren Almond’s artwork for Bond Street station. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery


Douglas Gordon’s artwork for Tottenham Court Road station. Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery