Art Tube Train Celebrates 100 Years Of Piccadilly Line

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 11 April 2007
a close up shot showing the side of a tube train painted in blue and orange

© London Underground

The ever increasing reach and role of public art takes a step further into the limelight today when London Underground launches the first Tube train to be entirely covered in a public artwork.

Part of the on-going Piccadilly line centenary celebrations the train is to be unveiled on April 12 2007 and features the work of internationally renowned artist Jim Isermann.

Far more ambitous than even the most determined tagger or graffiti artist could muster, the artwork sees six carriages and 107.6 metres completely covered with a distinctive vibrant geometric print that combines two striking colours, orange and blue.

Commissioned as part of LU’s Platform for Art programme the train now qualifies as one of the UK’s biggest ever mobile works of art and is the latest artwork that can be found on display across the Tube network in the most unusual of places.

Other innovative art projects that have appeared include limited-edition Oyster card wallets, poems and the transformation of the redundant platform at Gloucester Road into a gallery space.

“Platform for Art is a ground breaking initiative and I’m honoured to be a part of London Underground’s historic connection with art and design,” said Isermann. “I am very excited about seeing the piece realised and hope it will be a valuable addition to London’s public art.”

a close up shot of the side of tube train painted in blue and orange

© London Undeground

The launch of the art-wrapped train comes as new research from London Underground shows that 66% of people think that public art makes living and working in the UK more interesting. Nearly one in four say it even stimulates conversation with friends and new people.

Up to 87m passengers will be able to experience the massive moving artwork as it runs the length of the Piccadilly line for the next six months.

The project has also received the backing of Mayor of London Ken Livingstone who said: “Turning a Tube train into a piece of original artwork is a wonderful example of what can be done. We would like to hear from artists throughout the capital on how we can go further in making the Tube a visually exciting experience for every passenger.”

The work is part of a wider group of commissions, Thin Cities, designed to celebrate the centenary year of the Piccadilly line. The art commissions share the theme of ‘Past, Present and Future’ and are being unveiled one by one across the centenary year.

The commission was funded through a grant for the Thin Cities projects from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and London Underground. No text or advertising will appear on the design. For more information and images of previous commissions visit www.tfl.gov.uk/pfa.

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