Monday, March 2, 2009

Art goes underground

A week in London spent tube- station- hopping. It's probably the best and cheapest way to get around the city, and hey- it's fun! I pick up my regular starbucks macchiato and make my way though the public subway up Charing Cross to Trafalgar square in search of a new adventures above. The long and winding passage tells me a story, a story of palaces and knights and bygone English summers... accompanied by echoing sounds of a distant spanish guitar atthe end, where another vagabond has pitched his tent for the day collecting pennies in his hat. Pennies for a tune, pennies for a blessing.

London is beautiful. There isn’t a direction you can turn without your glance being stolen by a piece of art. Art follows you all the way, even more than a hundred feet below the ground. For years now, the London Underground have been running their underground art program 'Platform For Art' in order to promote London's eclectic art scene and to entertain and enlighten commuters on the cities bustling underground.
Appreciation of subway art soon turned to an obsession, hopping off at every station, curious, excited to see what surprise lay ahead, on the walls, the alleys, the rows of posters by the escalators…. they never seemed to end.
In the 1920's the Underground was regularly producing over forty posters a year. These were mainly Art deco with men wearing bowler hats. By the mid eighties "Art on the Underground" was revived, if only as a way of filling up the blank unsold advertising space on the tube. Each year about six posters were commissioned with print runs of 6,000 each. It’s interesting to see art evolve over the decades and the tube stations are probably the best silent witness to this change.
m-i-n-d t-h-e g-a-p . Mind the gap, the gap between our blur express espressos lives and a world that stands still, walls that tell a different tale.