Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Labyrinth - Art on the Underground by Mark Wallinger

My very first Labyrinth - #63 at Embankment Tube
I bagged my very first Labyrinth yesterday.

Labyrinth is the name of the series of 270 artworks which are being hung in every underground station in London as a permanent art exhibition to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.

The artist responsible for them is British artist and Turner prizewinner Mark Wallinger. His work is often noted for its social commentary.

I gather there are only ten of them installed in stations so far - however there will be one in all 270 stations when the project is complete.

I was immediately gripped by a feeling that we all have a bit of transpotter in us and I'll end up searching them out in all the stations I visit on a regular basis.  I'm very sure I won't go so far as to find all 270 however I'm also very sure someone will.

I mean, let's face it Scotland has its Munros (hills under 3,000 feet) and London has the Underground system instead.  Instead of bagging Munros, we can all get our trainers on and run up and down escalators and stairs as in order to bag a Labyrinth.

Next will come the Guinness World Record for the fastest time that it takes one person to get him or herself  photographed next to all 270  Labyrinths.

Plus don't forget the Guide to the Labyrinths of London - a book which is doubtless starting its way in the world on 100 odd computers around London as I type!

Labyrinth - an Art on the Undergound project

The labyrinths are black graphic designs on a white background.  A red cross marks the entrance.  The concept of the labyrinth relates to the notion that the Underground is a bit of a puzzle to navigate - people lose themselves in the underground.  However it's also about the fact that many a Londoner holds the map of the underground system in his or her head and never in the pocket.

There are other echoes of the Underground system:
  • The graphic motifs are all round.  This is intended to be reflective of the iconic roundel used in the sign for every tube station and the to and fro of the daily journey to work which is so much part of people's everyday life in London.
  • They're made of vitreous enamel which also echoes the various signs around the underground system.  
Taken together it's very odd that the sign, when you encounter one, looks as if it's mean to be there. I was walking into Embankment station when I suddenly realised I was walking right past one!

You can see a film about Labyrinth below in which Mark Wallinger explains why and how he got involved with the project, how it evolved and how the 270 different designs work and are made.

Art on the Underground - Video

More websites and articles about this installation:

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