Anyone who remembers their first visit to London will know that the Tube can be something of a maze to the uninitiated.
Now, to mark the London Underground’s 150th anniversary, all 270 stations on the network will install a unique work of art by Turner Prize-winner Mark Wallinger. The theme, appropriately enough, is the Labyrinth.
Each station will get its own variation on Wallinger’s circular, maze-like designs, which are a nod to both the iconic London Underground logo and the Harry Beck’s 1931Tube Map.
Wallinger, who grew up in Chigwell, Essex, 100 yards away from the Tube line, said that the project was “close to my heart”.
“The Tube can be a bit intimidating but we learn it and it becomes the rhythm of the place,” he said at the unveiling of the first of the artworks, on the westbound platform of St James’ Park station today . “The good thing about a labyrinth is that it looks like a maze but if you keep going you come to your centre.”
The designs, which will be emblazoned in black on 600mm² white enamel panels, also resemble a cross section of a brain. The artist said he wanted the 4 million passengers who will be seeing them every day to treat the designs as objects of “contemplation”.
The artworks, 10 of which have been unveiled today at central London stations including Baker Street, Bank and Oxford Circus, are intended to be permanent. All 270 will be installed by June this year.
Wallinger won the Turner Prize in 2007 with a 154-minute film of himself perusing an art gallery dressed as a bear. The Labyrinth project is not his first foray into public art. He won a competition to design a major sculpture near Ebbsfleet International railway station in Kent, with the concept of a 50 metre tall, life-like statue of a white horse. Although Wallinger’s design was selected in 2009, the project has since been delayed until a sufficient funding can be found.