Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line at Whitechapel Gallery
If you’ve ever wondered about the processes behind a large-scale work of art, Art Capital at the Whitechapel Gallery will give you a fascinating insight. This small exhibition takes a look at the public artworks planned for various stations along the Elizabeth Line (generally known as Crossrail), which will open in December 2018.
There are contributions from some of the best contemporary artists working today, including Yayoi Kusama, Conrad Shawcross and Chantal Joffe. The Gallery was directly involved in selecting Chantal Joffe as the artist to produce work for Whitechapel station. Her colourful paintings of local characters bring the East End to life in a way that is both sensitive and celebratory.
As the Whitechapel Gallery’s director Iwona Blazwick puts it: “The Crossrail Art programme brings world class art straight from the tube to Londoners and the city’s international public.” She describes the project as one of “the most ambitious art commissions of our age”, and this is emphasised by the scale of some of the specially created pieces.
A particular highlight of the show is a sketch of Richard Wright’s projected work for the eastern ticket hall of Tottenham Court Road station. In the time-honoured tradition of Italian Renaissance artists, Wright will take several weeks working alongside several artisans at ceiling height to produce a contemporary fresco – a web of delicate and intricate gold leaf motifs.
Another intriguing piece comes from artist Spencer Finch, whose taxonomical studies of clouds will be printed onto glass and turned into a vast glazed canopy for Paddington Station. There is a sample of the work in the gallery, hanging innocuously from a skylight and capturing the shifting light from above.
Art on the underground is a laudable project and this exhibition offers an intriguing taster of what is to come later this year, adding a little touch of artistry to thousands of people’s daily commutes.
Featured image: Chantal Joffe,
Study for “A Sunday Afternoon in Whitechapel” I, 2017
Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line is at Whitechapel Gallery from 13th March until 6th May 2018. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.