"Art on the Underground is a pioneer in commissioning contemporary artworks that enrich the journeys of millions on the Tube every day. From large-scale commissions at Gloucester Road station to the pocket Tube map cover commissions, Art on the Underground has gathered a roll-call of the best artists over 15 years, maintaining art as a central element of Transport for London’s identity and engaging passengers and staff in a sense of shared ownership."
To celebrate a decade and a half of this wide-reaching project, TfL has just launched Art for Everyone, Everyday - a joyous backslap to help remind us all of the good stuff past, and enthuse us for the good stuff yet to come.
Events and activities include...
• A poster at every station
• Art for Everyone, Everyday artworks at Stratford, Bethnal Green, Notting Hill and Gloucester Road stations (don't rush)
• Three 90 minute tube tours are taking place this Sunday, taking in five different Zone 1 artworks (free, but you had to email for a place, and they're all 'sold out')
• A talk this evening at the London Transport Museum where three of the project's artists are in conversation(starts 6.30pm, free, no need to book... which suggests they're not expecting to fill the theatre)
• An Art Map has been produced, not just a weedy fold-out thing but a proper full colour 24 page booklet highlighting 16 different artworks, and with a map showing their locations (now available in Zone 1 stations, and excellent, so you should grab one... or, second best, download it here)
• A beautifully-produced card-covered 28 page booklet including full colour photos of a selection of projects plus a list of all the artists who've taken part over the years (free, I found mine at Holborn, look out for the days of the week and a Labyrinth on the front cover)
As for that 28 page booklet, it contains this intriguing claim.
"With artworks in all 33 boroughs and in every one of London's 270 Tube stations, Art on the Underground provides an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to have their lives made richer and more enjoyable through art."
I don't understand how there can be an Art on the Underground artwork in every London borough, when the Underground doesn't cover the capital. Every tube station has a Labyrinth, so that's 27 boroughs covered. The Art on the Underground project also stretches to the Overground and DLR, as evidenced by the Art Map's mention of porcelain tiles at Hampstead Heath and ceramics at Woolwich Arsenal. But where are the Art on the Underground artworks in tube-free Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Lewisham and Sutton? If you have any ideas, please leave them in this special comments box. artwork comments
To assist the public in tracking down current Art on the Underground artworks, an interactive map of Current Art Projects has been created. It's well hidden, appearing only as a pop-up on the second tab of the Visiting information page, and also not entirely accurate. If you click on Notting Hill Gate you get information about Old Street, while the blob that should be at Bethnal Green has been misplaced at Mile End. Not every project that's on the Art Map appears on the interactive map, perhaps because they're not deemed current, but the end result looks rather sparse.
The Visiting Information page also lists 33 stations at which "permanent artworks and temporary exhibitions" are displayed. This is a completely different list again, suggesting (for example) the presence of artworks at Covent Garden, Fulham Broadway and Waterloo but giving no clue what these might be. Each station is clickable, but this simply brings up a phenomenally detailed list of access information and nothing whatsoever about art. It's hard to judge whether this information is aimed at tube novices or the disabled - I suspect the latter, given that the advice includes "In the station the light is artificial", "Some seats have no arm rests", and "The only showers are in the Virgin first class lounge".
I'd also hesitate a guess that the 33 individual Visiting Information pages have been uploaded to the internet without due care, attention and oversight. Here are 184 proofing errors I've found, in case anyone at TfL would like to employ me to help them out next time.
» "This document has been designed to assist accessibility to and from our exhibition space at Westminster Underground station" - at a station which is not Westminster (×11)
» "This document has been designed to assist accessibility to and from our exhibition space at Baker Street Underground station" - at a station which is not Baker Street (×2)
» Weblink for Current Project Map leads instead to list of artists (×32)
» Weblink for Travelling by Tube leads to non-existent page on website withdrawn 2 years ago, and does not redirect (×32)
» Weblink for Accessible Tube maps leads to non-existent page on website withdrawn 2 years ago, and does not redirect (×32)
» No accessibility information, only the name of an artwork (Edgware Road)
» Address and map are accidentally those for Warren Street (Euston)
» Address and map are accidentally those those for Piccadilly Circus (Green Park)
» Address and map are accidentally those those for Ealing Broadway (Hanger Lane)
» Pin on map for station placed 150m up the road (Highbury and Islington)
» Pin on map for station placed 300m up the road (Greenford)
» Pin on map for station placed 1000m up the road (Tottenham Court Road)
» Several incorrect over-optimistic claims about seating (e.g. "Each platform on all lines has seating within every 2-3 metres along the platform" at Baker Street)
» Statement that "There is no seating at this station" when in fact there is (several stations, especially on the Victoria line)
» "Piccadilli line" (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "Jubelee line" (London Bridge, Waterloo, Westminster)
» "Hammersmith&City" written without spaces (Baker Street)
» Blackhorse Road written as "Black Horse Road" and "Black Horse road" (Blackhorse Road)
» Bishopsgate written as "Bishop Gate" and "Bishopgate" (Liverpool Street)
» Shaftesbury Avenue written as "Shaftsbury Avenue" (Piccadilly Circus)
» Chiltern Street Masterpark written as "Children Street Master park" (Baker Street)
» Eastbound written as "East Bound" (Gloucester Road)
» "Notting Hill station" and "Nottinghill Gate" instead of Notting Hill Gate (Notting Hill Gate)
» "London overground" missing a capital letter (Highbury & Islington)
» "Walthamstow central" missing a capital letter (Walthamstow Central)
» "Bethnal Green road" missing a capital letter (Bethnal Green)
» Missing capital letters for "Charing Cross road", "Great Russell street" and "Tottenham court road" (Tottenham Court Road)
» Missing capital letters for "Midland road", "York way", "Pancras road" and "St. Pancras road" - also the latter does not exist (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "It may be easier to processed past the station before dropping off" - should be "proceed" (Brixton)
» "Please be aware stations can get very buys" (×7)
» "Please be aware stations can get very buys during rush hour and is located by a main road" - spelling error and switch from plural to singular (×2)
» "Any safety messages will be voiced over the tannoy system. Please follow any instructions give" - last consonant missing (×3)
» "Dominio Theatre" instead of Dominion Theatre (Tottenham Court Road)
» "The ticket office is located in the mail ticket hall" - should be "main" (Tottenham Court Road)
» "The work can be viewed... on the accent to the ticket hall" - should be "ascent" (Gloucester Road)
» "There are bust stops located at street level outside the station" - should be "bus stops" (Green Park)
» "Please see sing posts or ask a member of staff for directions" - should be "sign posts" (Green Park)
» "There is an area for storing bicycles which is shelterd" - should be "sheltered" (Walthamstow Central)
» "In this station there are two ticket offices, then firs one is located in the main ticket hall" - should be "the first one" (Waterloo)
» "The nearest Toilets are located in the rail station" - unnecessary capital letter (Waterloo)
» "The Toilets are located on the basement, near the exit 6" - presumably should be "in the basement", not that there is a basement (Westminster)
» Toilets described as the "women facilities" and the "men facilities" (Baker Street)
» "There is no signage on street level to indicate the existence of the artwork" - should be "at" instead of "on" (Leicester Square)
» "The approach to the station is quite busy with two bus stops , a crossing and a flower stand very close to the station" - unnecessary space in front of comma (Brixton)
» No mention in the accessibility information that the station is currently closed (Holland Park)
» "navigation is always difficult because Westminster is a touristic site" - should be "tourist", also the station is not in Westminster (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "The access to the trains has allowed by sliding doors" - badly phrased, also not true (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "The nearest toilets are located in King’s Cross St. Pancras National Rail station and the service is free" - there is no such station, and only the toilets at St Pancras are free (King's Cross St Pancras)
» "The Kinder Statue inside the station by the entrance of the ticket hall is a designated meeting spot" - the Kindertransport statue is actually outside the station (Liverpool Street)
» "A taxi rank is situated in Parliament Street, but it's easy to catch a cab everywhere around the station" - except the station is nowhere near Parliament (Oxford Circus)
» "On weekdays the station can stay busy from 10:00 am until 19:00 pm" - incorrect use of 24 hour clock (×3, Piccadilly Circus)
» "All persons who wish to see the exhibition must possess a valid travelling ticket, or purchase a ‘platform ticket’ from the ticket office. Platform tickets will allow access to the station and exhibition space for a short period of time, but will not allow train journeys to be made" - there is no ticket office (Tottenham Hale)
I think that's the sloppiest set of documents I've ever seen TfL publish.
Or perhaps it's just meant to be art.
Afternoon update: The Visiting Information webpage and its 33 individual station subpages have been removed.