Assemble has been appointed to work on a new public art piece at Seven Sisters as part of TfL’s Art on the Underground programme
The Turner Prize-nominated collective is taking inspiration from subterranean geology for its above ground intervention which will address the ‘under-loved and unwelcoming’ station entrance.
The commission forms part of a year-long inter-disciplinary arts programme celebrating the Victoria Line, which also includes work by Liam Gillick, Matt Rogers, Giles Round and Zineb Sedira.
The pieces will reflect on the ethos of Walthamstow-born Arts & Crafts exponent William Morris. Morris was a key influence on Frank Pick, managing director of London Underground in the early 20th century.
Eleanor Pinfield, head of Art on the Underground, said: ‘We are very excited to launch Underline, the first series of artists’ commissions on the Victoria Line. The project reflects Art on the Underground’s long-standing ambition to commission great contemporary art available to all. We are fortunate to be working with such inspiring artists to develop new works that will celebrate and challenge our perception of the Victoria line and its history.’
Work on Assemble’s project is set to start on site in 2016.
Q&A with Mathew Leung, founding member, Assemble
What are you planning to do at Seven Sisters?
The site we’re looking at is Exit B of Seven Sisters station which is just off Seven Sisters Road. It is unusual in that it’s the only above-ground entrance for the station and it has quite a sizeable ‘forecourt’ off the street. It is currently a little under-loved and at times unwelcoming - hopefully we can help to inject a little bit of joy in to the space.
Where has your inspiration for the project come from?
One of the great things about the project is that we get to go behind the scenes and see everything in action - at the depot, at the control centre, within the stations. There are so many aspects of the Underground which are fascinating, from the original act of excavation and the incredible engineering that goes in to the creation and maintenance of the network itself, to the enormous human effort that goes in to ensuring that everything operates smoothly day-to-day.
Taking the tube is so routine that we forget that often we’re travelling up to 50mph underground thanks to an infrastructure that is carefully choreographed minute-by-minute by a whole orchestra of line controllers, drivers, station staff and many others.
How do you plan to express the underground in your piece?
Both the human and the engineering aspects of the underground interest us. We’re looking to explore both these things in more depth.
Will it be interactive and how will it engage with the public?
The use and the location of the site means that any intervention is inevitably public-facing in some form or another. I think the way it impacts the street or the perception of the entrance is the most important thing.
Is it a permanent piece?
Given the scale of the commission, we’re unlikely to be looking at extensive works to the public realm, but we’d like our intervention to be a permanent addition.
How were you commissioned to work on the scheme?
We were approached by the Art on the Underground team towards the end of March and were drawn in after our first behind the scenes site visit to Seven Sisters Station.