Tube train gets a paint job

One of the UK’s biggest ever mobile works of art has been unveiled in the shape of a 107-metre-long tube train, emblazoned in vibrant geometric prints.

Commissioned to celebrate 100 years of the Piccadilly line, the ‘untitled work’ from artist Jim Isermann is said to be the first ever underground tube to be wrapped in original artwork.

It has been made possible thanks to joint-funding by London Underground (LU) and the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, the Association of Illustrators reported.

Commuters will be able to recognise the tube by its distinctive modernist style, comprising two opposing colours – blue on the entire body of the train, punctuated by burnt orange doors.

But the Las-Vegas-based artist told the association that a great deal of thought went into the seemingly simple design, which will grace the Piccadilly line until the end of October.

“My ongoing investigation of the logic and geometry of repeating patterning is addressed in this piece.

“Like much of my work, it is determined by limitations,” Isermann said.

“In this case, a design that is not so graphic or animated as to unstable commuters and the specification of a 32 percentage point grey scale difference between the doors and train body colours.”

Tamsin Dillon, head of Platform for Art, LU’s programme for creativity, reportedly welcomed the artist’s striking offering to the underground.

“He has created a bold and intuitive work that resonates with London Underground’s distinctive design history,” she said.

“We hope that this is a valuable experience for our passengers and are currently talking to number of interested sponsors with a view to making this an annual commission.”

Isermann’s design, dubbed Tube Wrap, is part of a wider group of commissions entitled ‘Thin Cities’ - designed to celebrate the Centenary year of the Piccadilly line.

Each project is hailed as the “most ambitious to date” by Platform for Art, and were commissioned by the scheme to appear in specific stations along the Piccadilly route.

Meanwhile, Isermann has also created a new Oyster card wallet to accompany his project.


20th April 2007

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