The vibrant east London community around the new Elizabeth line station in Whitechapel is being reflected in a major work of art by award-wining artist Chantal Joffe, called A Sunday Afternoon in Whitechapel.
Joffe has lived in east London, home to London’s migrant communities for centuries, for many years and has found inspiration for her artwork in the diversity seen around the station on a Sunday afternoon. She is creating a series of colourful, small-scale paper collages, which will be digitally enlarged to two metres tall and transferred to laser-cut aluminium, assembled and fixed to the arching platform walls 30 metres below street level.
Joffe is the latest artist to be selected by the Crossrail Art Foundation to create a work for the Crossrail Art Programme – a unique line wide display of large-scale art at many of the new Elizabeth line stations. The artwork is funded by the City of London Corporation with a contribution from Randeree Charitable Trust. The Art Fund has also offered a grant toward the artwork.
Whitechapel Gallery has also announced a new exhibition called Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line that will, for the first time, bring together unseen material from all the artists contributing to the Crossrail Art Programme. Maquettes, sketches, and prototypes, will be displayed in the East London gallery’s project and archive spaces between 13 March and 6 May next year.
Chantal Joffe said: “It’s exciting that my work will be part of the fabric of London. All my thinking around this project for the station at Whitechapel has been about the journeys we make and how we make them our own – through the people we see on a daily basis, or the private maps of significant places we carry in our heads. Part of the challenge has been to develop small, intimate collages into large scale works, and to retain a sense of the personal in a public space. I hope I have achieved this by bringing a sense of intimacy, as well as colour and warmth, into the station at Whitechapel.”
Iwona Blazwick , Director of Whitechapel Gallery, said: “Joffe has translated the life of Whitechapel High Street into a series of radiant, Matisse-like portraits that will transform the platforms of the new Elizabeth Line into a cultural destination.”
Sir Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman, said: “When the Elizabeth line opens in December 2018, almost 100,000 journeys will start or end at the new station in Whitechapel. It’s wonderful that this vibrant and diverse community, which the railway was built to serve, will be reflected in Chantal’s beautiful and striking artwork. It’s a fabulous addition to Crossrail Art Programme, which is now clearly the largest and most impressive addition to the catalogue of London’s public artwork in a generation.”
Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation, said: “I hope that Chantal’s artwork will bring as much pleasure to those using Whitechapel station every day as it will to the local people whose likenesses have been captured by her. As the UK’s fourth largest funder of heritage and cultural activities and proud of our vibrant City’s cultural offer, we are delighted to support this exciting initiative.”
Stephen Deuchar, director, Art Fund, said: “Chantal Joffe’s extraordinarily beguiling new work of art captures the many faces of the city and we’re looking forward to it being enjoyed for many years to come.”
When the TfL-run Elizabeth line opens in December 2018, new air-conditioned trains will depart Whitechapel station every 2.5 minutes, taking only 3 minutes to reach Canary Wharf and less than 40 minutes to reach Heathrow. It is the only station in London where the London Overground runs below the London Underground lines, with the Circle, Hammersmith and City and District lines also serving the station.
Image: Chantal Joffe, A Sunday Afternoon in Whitechapel, 2017 (detail)
© Chantal Joffe
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London / Venice