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A Sunday afternoon in Whitechapel inspires major artwork at new Elizabeth line station

By Andrew Dempsey

  • Inspired by the rich diversity of the local community, artist Chantal Joffe creates large-scale collages for the platforms of the new station in east London
  • Funding provided by City of London Corporation with a contribution from Randeree Charitable Trust; and a significant grant offered by Art Fund
  • Whitechapel Gallery also announces Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line (13 March - 6 May 2018), the first exhibition showcasing all the commissions for the Crossrail Art Programme

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 2 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.

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email

About Chantal Joffe

Born in 1969, Chantal Joffe lives and works in London. She holds an MA from the Royal College of Art. Joffe has exhibited widely in Britain and internationally at venues including the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavík (2016); Jewish Museum, New York (2015); Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (2015); Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2014 - 2015); Saatchi Gallery, London (2013 - 2014); MODEM, Hungary (2012); Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow (2012); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2011); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York (2009); University of the Arts, London (2007); MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (2007); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2005); Galleri KB, Oslo (2005) and Bloomberg Space, London (2004).

Crossrail Art Programme

Major works of public art will be integrated into many of the new Elizabeth line stations to create a line-wide exhibition that reflects the ambition of London’s newest railway and the communities it serves.

Together with internationally renowned London-based art galleries and a respected group of art-world representatives, the Crossrail Art Foundation is delivering the largest collaborative public art commissioning process in a generation.

The project falls outside Crossrail’s £14.8 billion core funding. The Crossrail Art Foundation is raising funds from corporate funders, with each contribution being match funded by the City of London Corporation.

The Crossrail Art Foundation registered as a charity in England and Wales (1159310) and is a company limited by guarantee (company number 09200269), with its registered office at 50 Broadway, London SW1H 0BL.

About Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. It also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 123,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant-giving, Art Fund’s support for museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by The Hepworth Wakefield in 2017) and a range of digital platforms.

Find out more about Art Fund and the National Art Pass at

About Whitechapel Gallery

For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, café/bar and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. The Gallery is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of East London and one of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarters.

About Crossrail

The route will pass through 41 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. The Transport for London (TfL) run railway will be named the Elizabeth line when services through central London open in December 2018. The Crossrail project is being delivered by Crossrail Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, and is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and TfL.

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