9 Unusual Tube Artworks to Admire on Your Commute

Your tube commute may not feel like a particularly inspiring time of the day, but there are gems to be found on the London Underground. Have you spotted any of these artworks?

1. Leytonstone

Along the underpass to this Central line station, film buffs might spot some familiar scenes. To celebrate the centenary of Alfred Hitchcock’s birth (the film director was born here in 1899) Waltham Forest borough council commissioned these quirky mosaics.

Each shows one of his iconic film scenes. Can you guess what the one below is from?

2. Edgware Road

Outside Edgware Road is a pretty eye-catching installation of vitreous enamel¬†work (the largest example in Europe don’t y’know?!) It was completed by A.J Wells and commissioned by Art on the Underground as¬†decorative cladding to cover around 1500 square metres of a new building and perimeter wall.

But don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled inside too…

Tube Artworks

There’s also some gorgeous original ticket booths that a worth a second look. When you see the oxblood red tiles on the outside then floral green inside, it’s a clue that these stations date from the Leslie Green period of Tube Station designs, around 1906-7.

3. Finsbury Park

Mosaics are a favourite medium on London Underground (probably because they’re pretty¬†resistant to dirt!)

The Finsbury Park mosaics, designed by Annabel Grey in 1983, contain 52 differently coloured tiles and she reports she had huge difficultly with the installation; 

“It got very complicated and mathematical, as there’s an ellipse of a landscape running behind the balloons and I realised that when you added the space between the trackside panels, the landscape would have been 360 feet high!” – Grey speaking to Creative Review in 2013.

4. Bethnal Green

Tube Artworks

Maybe not an ‘artwork’ specifically but definitely something to look out for. This clock at Bethnal Green is one of the few that contain London Underground roundels instead of numbers. It’s also the only one – as far as I know – where they are gold and it dates from the 1940s and was restored in 2009.

5. Piccadilly Circus

Designed by Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell this new installation celebrates the influential London¬†Underground CEO Frank Pick. It was Pick who commissioned¬†Johnston to create the the iconic TFL font and appointed Charles Holden to design many of the network’s stations.

Tube Artworks

Langlands and Bell chose these¬†words after discovering them in Pic’s personal papers in the London Transport Archive and they relate to¬†his philosophy on beauty, utility, goodness and truth.

6. Wood Green

Keep you eyes peeled for¬†decorative ventilation grilles on the Piccadilly Line…

Tube Artworks

They were designed by Harold Stabler in the early 1930s and this one shows a deer and two birds happily rambling through idyllic woodlands. This is one of three stations where these appear (the others are Manor House and Turnpike Lane) and supposedly they depict the landscape that awaits the traveller beyond.

However stepping outside Wood Green may require a bit of imagination to see deer roaming the High Street.

Get the latest London secrets to your email
See the city from a new angle, discovering little things you miss everyday and get the latest news about upcoming tours.
Once a week. No spam, just inspiration.
Your details will never be shared with any 3rd parties

7. Victoria Line

This whole speedy line has treats on offer!

Each station has a different tile decoration relevant to its location. Some are straightforward, like this one at Рyou guessed it РBlackhorse Road.

Some give you a sneaky hint at local attractions, like Walthamstow Central Рnearest stop to the William Morris Gallery Рwhich has tiles influenced by his iconic flowery wallpaper designs:

Tube Artworks

8. Canary Wharf

Tube Artworks

These¬†7.2 metre wide – the largest ever tube advertisement screens – will certainly catch your eye on the jubilee line. They’re a clever combination of Art on the Underground installation (here they’re showing art by Mark Titchner) but also TFL hopes¬†to gain billions of pounds in advertising revenue.

9. Tottenham Court Road

Possibly the best known of London Underground’s artworks are these mosaics by Eduardo Paolozzi. Originally commissioned in 1986 the glass mosaics cover 950 sq metres across both the Central and Northern line platforms and interchanges.

Tube Artworks

Photo from Art on the Underground by Thierry Bal

They’ve been spruced up recently for the reopening of the station and you can read more about that from TFL here. There’s also a very good¬†retrospective exhibition of Paolozzi at the Whitechapel Art Gallery until 15 May.


No Comments

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.