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The launch of the Crossrail Art Programme

Date uploaded: March 27, 2013

On Monday 25th March 2013, Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, Crossrail, launched its new Art Programme at the Guildhall in London. Crossrail has appointed Futurecity to work in collaboration to develop a visionary transport network art programme. This is the beginning of a major new cultural programme for London.

Transforming Transport into Global Iconic Art
The Crossrail Art Programme will bring world-class artists together with international architecture and engineering teams to create a permanent line-wide art exhibition across eight new central and east London stations.

The Culture Line will colour the blank canvas of each station and create a cultural experience for passengers at Paddington, Farringdon, Liverpool Street, Custom House, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street Crossrail stations.

Large-scale artworks will be permanently integrated into the new stations to deliver a vibrant transport experience for generations to come. The Culture Line is part of a wider focus to regenerate areas both within and around the new stations to improve passenger experience.

Crossrail and Futurecity are taking a unique step to work with eight of London’s leading commercial art galleries to assist in inviting world leading collaborative artists to submit proposals for the eight station installations. Crossrail’s stations will become art galleries showcasing large-scale artworks by some of the world’s most renowned artists, resulting in the largest collaborative art commissioning process in a generation.

Crossrail Chairman Terry Morgan said: “The scale of the world-class new stations we are building create a blank canvas for artwork produced by leading artists. Working collaboratively with leading art galleries we shall engage eight internationally recognised artists to create a permanent line-wide exhibition across the eight central Crossrail stations. When Crossrail is finished it will not only be a functional transport system, but a cultural destination for everyone to enjoy.”

The Culture Line: Three Big Ideas
The Culture Line will engage eight world-renowned London art galleries, together creating a permanent line-wide exhibition across the eight central Crossrail stations. The result will be a series of eight unique destinations, with an art commission of international importance embedded into the design and architecture of each station.

Each artists will be invited to submit proposals that incorporate The Culture Line’s Three Big Ideas:

  1. Art & Architecture: Working in partnership with the architectural design teams and the manufacturers of the keynote materials selected for the build, artists will have an opportunity to use these materials, while integrating their art into the fabric of the Crossrail build.
  2. The River of Light: Crossrail will be able to use 21st-century technology to host light installations or stream digital art through the eight stations and along the whole Crossrail line.
  3. The Urban Gallery:From free-standing sculpture to seating, from way-finding to place-making, Crossrail’s Urban Gallery will put the spotlight on individual, specifically-located art and design works in public spaces within and surrounding the new stations.

5 London galleries partner 5 Crossrail stations
Five world-renowned London commercial art galleries are now confirmed partners for five Crossrail stations, forming a key part of the permanent line-wide exhibition across the central Crossrail stations. The confirmed partnerships are:

  • Lisson Gallery for Paddington station
  • Victoria Miro for Liverpool Street station
  • Sadie Coles HQ for Farringdon station
  • White Cube for Bond Street station
  • Gagosian for Tottenham Court Road station

The Culture Line aims to engage eight galleries for the eight central stations. Futurecity is in discussions with other renowned galleries for the remaining central stations at Whitechapel, Canary Wharf and Custom House.

The successful artworks are being selected by an advisory Round Table of representatives from national and local arts organisations and commercial galleries.

The Advisory Round Table members for the Paddington station selection include: Michael Cassidy, Non-Executive Director for Crossrail; Colin Tweedy, Managing Director of The Building Centre; Susie Allen, founding Director of Artwise; Kate Bush, Head of Barbican Art Galleries; and Ann Elliott, an independent curator.

The Culture Line will be funded through private sponsorship. No public funds are available for these art installations within Crossrail’s £14.8 billion budget.

A Cloud Index: The first commission on The Culture Line
Crossrail and Futurecity working in association with the Lisson Gallery are proud to announce the first commission on The Culture Line at Paddington station by internationally renowned artist Spencer Finch (b. 1972).

His commission proposal, A Cloud Index, intends to create an index of clouds embedded within the glass of the centrepiece of the new station: the 120m long canopy.

The result will create both a picture of a the sky in the tradition of English landscape painting by artists such as Constable and Turner, but also a taxonomy of more than 25 different types of clouds. The image will interact with the environment, changing with the different light and weather conditions. On a clear day, the clouds on the glass will float in the blue sky and on cloudy days they will overlap and interact with the real clouds, casting soft, ever-changing shadows into the station.

Mark Davy, Founder and Director, Futurecity said: “High above the crowded concourse of Paddington Crossrail station, passengers will look up to see layers of puffy, white clouds appearing to move across a clear blue sky, framed by the new magnificent glass canopy. Clouds only live for 10 minutes but in this impressive new artwork they will live forever. Spencer Finch has delivered an artwork of beauty and contemplation and a chance for the millions of commuters, tourists and visitors to the station to experience an artwork that was designed for dreamer.”

The glass canopy provides shelter to a major new public space and to the station below and allows natural light to flood into the new station. Covering a 2318 square metre space in total and longer than a football field, the glazed canopy will consist of 200 panels each 6.1m by 1.9m. The canopy will be next to the Grade 1 listed existing Paddington station.

The new canopy signifies the presence of the station within the street, yet can also be seen from the Crossrail platforms almost 30m below ground.  The light from the canopy will be a constant reference point providing intuitive wayfinding for passengers as they move around the station.

It is intended that the various types of translucent clouds will be digitally printed on clear inter layers sandwiched between layers of glass.

Spencer Finch’s proposal uses the canopy as a canvas for a dramatic yet subtle new work of art that will complement the architects’ vision and permeate all areas of the station.

Artist Spencer Finch said: “I am thrilled about this project. No one believes me when I say this, but English clouds are really different from American clouds, they are closer to the horizon, denser, and move across the sky differently. I am so excited to have this opportunity to get to know these English clouds and do something beautiful with them on a grand scale. The opportunity to work on a cloud piece at this scale is totally irresistible, and I am confident that the subtly and complexity of this project will enhance the experience of the beautiful new Paddington Crossrail station.”

Click here to visit the Futurecity website.