A giant sculpture of a foot sits on a pedestal under banners and a lot of red umbrellas
EAT HERE, by Heather Phillipson, on installation view at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt. Phillipson will be filling Gloucester’s more than 200-foot platform with a multimedia project that incorporates video screens, fiberglass, and a giant automated whisk. Heather Phillipson and Norbert Miguletz

A new program sponsored by the London Underground will feature female artists in public transit spaces.

The London Underground is giving women a say in their public space by literally giving them a platform.

Art on the Underground, Transport for London’s public art program, is commissioning a year-long program in 2018 that will feature women artists. The program was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, which granted suffrage to all men over 21 and to women over 30 who either owned land or had land-owning husbands. It is also a part of the mayor of London’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, which aims to shine a light on the contributions and achievements of women in London.

The program features six artists’ works in different ways: on billboards at Brixton and Southwark stations, on the cover of tube maps, and on a platform at the Gloucester Road station. Njideka Akunyili Crosby, a Nigerian-born artist, will be creating murals for Brixton. Crosby often uses photo collages in her paintings, and her work touches on issues of heritage, family, and cultural identity. British artist Heather Phillipson will be filling Gloucester’s more than 200-foot platform with a multimedia project that incorporates video screens, fiberglass, and a giant automated whisk. In Phillipson’s work, eggs are used as an entry point to think about overproduction and consumption. Other artists focus on a range of issues, using pastels, collages, and paint, scrutinizing everything from interactions on social media to the way society views the female body as a commodity.

A still from Heather Phillipson’s “my name is lettie eggsyrub,” video for the forthcoming Gloucester Road
installation

“The spaces of our cities are not neutral, and neither is space afforded to public art. Wider social inequalities are played out in the structures of urban life,” Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said in a press release. “Through 2018, Art on the Underground will use its series of commissions to reframe public space, to allow artists’ voices of diverse backgrounds and generations to underline the message that there is no single women’s voice in art—there are however many urgent voices that can challenge the city’s structures of male power.”

Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby with her work “The Beautyful Ones” (Victoria Miro)

The Representation of the People Act was not perfect—poor women, young women, uneducated women, were still left disenfranchised. But it was an important step on a march towards equality. Voting gave women a say in how they were governed. The #BehindEveryGreatyCity campaign is not going to fix the gender pay gap or entrenched social norms. But it is a way to remind the Tube’s riders that behind every great city, and beside every man, women are living and breathing and moving steadily forward.

Superautomatisme Ballets Russes VII, 2015, by Linder, another artist featured in the program

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Illustration of a house with separate activities taking place in different rooms.
    POV

    The Case for Rooms

    It’s time to end the tyranny of open-concept interior design.

  2. Car with Uber spray painted on it.
    Transportation

    The Dangerous Standoff Between Uber and Buenos Aires

    While Uber and Argentine officials argue over whether the company is an app or a transportation company, drivers suffer fines, violence, and instability.

  3. Life

    Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life

    Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government.

  4. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

  5. A woman stands in a small, 1940s-era kitchen with white cabinets and a dining table.
    Design

    The Frankfurt Kitchen Changed How We Cook—and Live

    There are “dream kitchens,” and then there’s the Frankfurt Kitchen, designed by architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926.