Art on the Underground, the official art programme for Transport for London (TfL), announces Underline, a year-long interdisciplinary celebration of the Victoria line.
The Crossrail of its day, the Victoria line from Walthamstow to Victoria was opened in 1969, the first new Underground line to be built in 60 years. With commissions from three visual artists, an architectural collective and a composer, Underline will draw inspiration from the character of one of the most intensively travelled lines on the network, and the organisations, communities and histories connected by it.
Thematically, the new commissions for Underline will reflect on the ethos of Walthamstow-born Arts & Crafts exponent William Morris, who 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 its graphic identity by commissioning some of the great design tropes of London Underground such as Edward Johnston’s Roundel and the Johnston font, as well as Harry Beck’s Tube Map.
Artist Giles Round launches Underline with his project Design Work Leisure, a design office that revisits the values and vision of William Morris, Frank Pick and the Design Research Unit – responsible for some of the most iconic graphic design from 20th century Britain, including the Victoria line. Drawing on the belief that good design leads to a better society, the office will open in July 2015 with a design directive for the Victoria line distributed for free across the London Underground network. To mark the announcement, a limited edition Oyster card wallet designed by Round will be handed out at every Victoria line station.
In the autumn, Liam Gillick will screen a series of new films shot across the Tube network, and contemporary composer Matt Rogers’ new commission will be performed by members of London Sinfonietta live in stations on the line in spring 2016. Architectural collective Assemble will develop a new public site at Seven Sisters on the Victoria line, taking inspiration from subterranean geology to inform their above ground interventions. Closing the Underline series, Brixton-based artist Zineb Sedira will present a new film work and photographic series currently in production.
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, commented: “We are very excited to launch Underline, the first series of artists’ commissions on the Victoria Line. The project reflects Art on the Underground’s long-standing ambition to commission great contemporary art available to all. We are fortunate to be working with such inspiring artists to develop new works that will celebrate and challenge our perception of the Victoria line and its history.”