An Underground Platform for Art


Written by Madeleine Cowley
18 Monday 18th April 2011

Public art enterprise Art Below is an avid supporter of the notion that art should not be a matter of privilege but should constitute part of our everyday experiences. Since 11 April they have commandeered the vast digital projection screens at Liverpool Street Tube Station in a bid to brighten up the daily commute and offer the public insight into the working process of a whole host of creative young things through a series of short films.

This current project Art in Motion is part of a long line of artistic interventions into public space commissioned by Art Below. Since 2006, the initiative has enriched our mundane environments by transforming ‘ad space into art space’. Vacant billboards, advertising hoardings and the lift of Kennington tube station have previously been appropriated to showcase the work of young and emerging artists. So far over 500 artists and designers have been involved in their internationally acclaimed activities.

Don’t Panic spoke to Art Below founder Ben Moore about their latest underground venture.

How do you see the role of art in public life?

Art should be, and in some senses already is everywhere, and we believe that it should be for everybody. The gallery often has a stigma, leading people to perceive art as a closed door, a private establishment, and suggests an exclusive forum in which only certain people are encouraged to participate. Today's urban dwellers lead increasingly busy lives, they often do not have the time to appreciate the value of art. We bring change by taking the art to them. We show art in a new, public context.

Multi-disciplinary artist Adeline de Monseignat

Why did you choose the underground as an 'exhibition space'?

The tube is an iconic, vast space, plus users are almost immersed in advertising on it, so why not turn ad space into art space.

For the current project why did you decide to concentrate on the artist’s creative process?

For the viewer it gives a sense of reward to stand and watch as a masterpiece comes to life in front of their very eyes on an underground platform.  For the artist it is an opportunity to share the process that they go through, which from looking at the finished piece will not always be apparent.  It is giving the viewer a 'behind the scenes' insight into a creative process. It's a bit like being at a festival with a VIP backstage pass - what you see from the back stage is completely different to what the crowd is getting. I don’t think there is a more effective way of displaying the creative process in a public space than through the digital projection screens. We saw this as an opportunity to do something different rather than simply displaying the finished work.

Two of the Three Classicists during the creation of a huge architectural illustration

How did you select the artists for this project?

'Art in Motion' was really inspired through working closely with a range of different artists and seeing the processes they go through. These are artists that we have been working with for a while. We wanted to display a range of different creative backgrounds so we picked people who had strong visual coverage of themselves creating the work and who obviously represented a certain creative background. 

Screenshot from German experimental animator and media artist Max Hattler's 1923 aka Heaven

Do you choose artists that you think are more likely to appeal to a wider audience?

The London underground is quite strict on what gets through so we lost a lot of good material on the way, material that was seen as being graffiti just because the artist is using a spray can to paint with.  I think it's time there was a change in the rules and I personally want to be a part of that change. We chose artists who will appeal to different types of people, for example there will be some members of the travelling public who will appreciate the work of The Three Classicists and others who will love the work of Max Hattler.

Art in Motion runs until 25th April on the Westbound Central line platform at Liverpool Street Underground Station. Further details and a full list of featured artists can be found here

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.