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150 million year old stone for new Green Park Tube station

Date uploaded: October 3, 2011

A new permanent art work for the Tube by artist John Maine RA can now be enjoyed by customers at Green Park Tube station.

Working with 150 million year old Portland stone, Maine, who was commissioned by Art on the Underground, has created an intricate, fossil clad surface for the station’s new Green Park side buildings, as well as fossil inspired spiral designs in the paving for the street level access to the Tube.

The artwork is an integral part of the station upgrade, which already includes: three new lifts which have boosted accessibility to the Victoria, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines well ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; a new attractive ramped entrance with views of the park; a new canopy and staircase on the south side of Piccadilly that opens from ticket hall to street level. The upgrade is being completed in time for the 2012 Games.

Maine has been working on the Isle of Portland in Dorset for twenty years, fascinated by the natural stratification of its stone. Often seen as a neutral cladding for London buildings, here the limestone is given centre stage, with attention being drawn to its distinctive characteristic – a stone that carries so much history within it, acting as a repository for ancient life forms.

The cladding has been applied in bands with a 300mm band of stone where the natural hollows left by sea creatures remain exposed, and a 900mm, eye-level band in which the artist has carved enlarged versions of the typical fossilized shapes. The last pieces of granite from a now extinct quarry in Scotland and mouldings and cornicing made from different gradients of Portland stone complete the work.

“I wanted to bring the station surface to life with these remarkable, preserved life forms”, said Maine. “It is as though I am transforming the inanimate buildings into an outcrop of nature”.

Located next to the natural setting of Green Park, Maine’s work draws attention to the interface of road and park. The artist is known for his works that set sculpture in the context of landscape and architecture. Most recently he was part of the interdisciplinary team that oversaw the restoration of the thirteenth-century Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey. An exhibition of his work will run at Royal Academy of Arts as part of their Artists’ Laboratory series, from 9th November to 18th December 2011.

Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art on the Underground, said: “It has been very exciting working with Royal Academician John Maine on the creation of a new permanent work for Art on the Underground. John has been involved in the look and feel of the station from the beginning of design, with everything down to the curve of the walls and the mouldings of the balustrades being part of his concept.

This truly collaborative effort with LU, Tube Lines and the architects Capita Architecture and Feilden + Mawson has been a great team experience.”

Green Park is also an interchange for travellers heading to Heathrow airport and other key transport hubs such as St.Pancras International rail station, meaning the John Maine’s artwork will be viewed by both international visitors to the capital and commuters.

Art on the Underground: John Maine

Art on the Underground: John Maine