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. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California’s Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over vacancy in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

  2. a photo of Marin County
    Equity

    Will the Supreme Court Strike Down Inclusionary Zoning?

    A Marin County lawsuit has conservatives and housing advocates preparing to face off over the constitutionality of a powerful affordable housing tool.

  3. A photo-illustration of a child looking at a garbage truck
    Life

    Why Are Kids Obsessed With Garbage Trucks? An Investigation

    For some kids, the weekly trash pickup is a must-see spectacle. Parents, children, waste-management professionals, and experts on childhood all offer theories as to why.

  4. Equity

    Are Cities Paying for Expensive Jails by Force-Filling Them?

    While many cities are using incarceration alternatives, some smaller cities and rural areas are building—and filling—costly new jails, new research shows.  

  5. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

×