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Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross to create major public artworks for London’s Elizabeth line

By Andrew Dempsey

Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross to create major public artworks for London’s Elizabeth line

Digital rendering of Infinite Accumulation, 2017© Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

  • Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will create her first permanent UK installation for new Liverpool Street Elizabeth line station at Broadgate
  • British artist Conrad Shawcross will create a bronze sculpture outside the station’s western entrance at Moorgate
  • Kusama artwork funded by British Land and Shawcross by Landsec with match funding provided by City of London Corporation
  • Artists’ plans unveiled at new Whitechapel Gallery exhibition – Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line (13 March - 6 May 2018)

Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross have been unveiled as the final two artists selected to create major new works of public art for the Crossrail Art Programme.

The artists’ plans were unveiled at the launch of Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line, a new exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery that opened this morning (13 March). The exhibition showcases the ideas of all nine artists who have been selected for the Crossrail Art programme - a unique series of ten public artworks that are being integrated into seven stations on the new Elizabeth line.

Kusama, who has been named the world’s most popular artist for global museum attendance, is creating her first permanent UK installation. Titled ‘Infinite Accumulation’, the site-specific work develops her instantly recognisable motif – the polka dot – into a series of flowing, mirrored steel sculptures, each up to 12 metres wide and 10 metres tall. Undulating tubular rods will support a sequence of highly polished spheres, guiding passengers from the public spaces outside the station into the eastern entrance of the Elizabeth line station at Broadgate.

'Manifold' by British artist Conrad Shawcross will be a bronze sculpture positioned outside the Moorgate entrance of the Elizabeth line station. Taking inspiration from musical harmony, Shawcross has used a machine based on the Victorian harmonograph – with its two pendulums that draw the oscillation of a sound wave – to map the complex shape of a specific piano chord that is falling into silence. Encapsulating the dynamic visual potential of harmonics, the resulting ‘drawing’ will be sculpted in three dimensions using bronze to create a unique signpost at the entrance of the station.

The Kusama artwork will be funded by the commercial property company British Land who are creating a new mixed-use neighbourhood, Broadgate, adjacent to Liverpool Street station. The Shawcross artwork will be funded by Landsec. Match funding for all Crossrail programme artworks is being provided by City of London Corporation.

Conrad Shawcross, said: “It has been a long journey to this point and I’m so excited to now be able to officially talk about this ambitious commission. Finding a home for a work is always the final but hardest part of an artist's creative process, so knowing that an idea will have a permanent location is such a good feeling; all the better for it being my home town. To be alongside such a great progression of artists peppered along the epic engineering endeavour that is Crossrail is such an exciting thing.”

David Lockyer, Head of Broadgate, British Land, said: “Creating a public arena for culture at Broadgate is key to the campus’ evolution into a mixed-use, world class neighbourhood for London. We are delighted to support Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinite Accumulation’. It will be a fantastic addition to the campus and will further position the wider area as an exciting arts and cultural hub for London.”

Ross Sayers, Development Director, Landsec, said: “It’s a privilege to work with Conrad Shawcross as we deliver this strategically important site for the City of London. Conrad’s ‘Manifold’ sculpture, which maps the complex shape of a piano chord, perfectly complements the musical heritage of the nearby Barbican Centre, home of the LSO and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation, said: “As one of the UK’s major supporters of the arts, the City of London Corporation has taken pride in supporting the Crossrail Art Programme, which has brought together well-respected artists from around the world. These hugely creative pieces of art are turning heads and will enliven people’s experiences of travelling around London on the Elizabeth line. My colleagues and I congratulate Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross on being invited to take part in the Programme.”

Sir Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman, said: “The addition of Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross to the already hugely impressive roster of artists creating bespoke works for the Elizabeth line is a testament to the scale and ambition of the new railway. The Crossrail Art Programme is the biggest single addition to London’s collection of public art in a generation. It will cement London’s place as a global capital for arts and culture.”

Liverpool Street in the heart of the City of London is one of 10 brand new Elizabeth line stations being built across the capital.

When the Elizabeth line opens this December, it will provide quicker, easier and more accessible journeys between London’s major airports and key employment, leisure and business districts. Transport for London’s newest railway will carry over 200 million passengers per year, adding 10% capacity to central London’s rail network.

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Notes to editors

About Yayoi Kusama

For almost seventy years Kusama has developed a practice, which, though it shares affiliations with movements such as Surrealism, Minimalism and Pop Art, resists any singular classification. Far-reaching, expansive and immersive, her work alludes to microscopic and macroscopic universes.

Born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York in the late 1950s and by the mid-1960s had become well known in the avant-garde world for her provocative happenings and exhibitions. Since this time, Kusama's extraordinary artistic endeavours have spanned painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, film, printmaking, installation and environmental art as well as literature, fashion (most notably in her 2012 collaboration with Louis Vuitton) and product design.

Kusama represented Japan at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, and currently lives and works in Tokyo, where the Yayoi Kusama Museum opened October 2017 with the inaugural exhibition Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art.  A major exhibition focusing on the evolution of Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms is currently touring North America. In 2016 Yayoi Kusama was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People. She was also named the world’s most popular artist for global museum attendance, based on figures reported by The Art Newspaper.

About Conrad Shawcross

Imbued with an appearance of scientific rationality, Conrad Shawcross’ sculptures explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Inspired by different technologies, the artist's structures may retain in appearance the authority of machines – yet, they remain enigmatic, filled with paradox and wonder. Some have an absurdist melancholy feel, while others tend to the sublime, substituting the purely functional for phenomenological experience. In the end, Shawcross’ art questions what we take for granted and encourages us to see beyond the physical.

Conrad Shawcross was born in 1977 in London, where he currently lives and works. He is the youngest living artist to be elected to the Royal Academy of Arts. The artist has undertaken numerous prestigious commissions. In June 2017, the Royal Academy of Arts and St Pancras International unveiled the major site-specific installation, The Interpretation of Movement (a 9:8 in blue), as part of the Terrace Wires series. The work was on view until December 2017. Unveiled in autumn 2016, The Optic Cloak is a major architectural intervention for the Greenwich Peninsula low carbon Energy Centre. Three Perpetual Chords, 2015, is a series of permanent sculptures commissioned for Dulwich. The Dappled Light of the Sun, 2015, first installed in the Annenberg Courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts, London as part of the Summer Exhibition 2015, is an immersive work comprising branching cloud-like forms made of thousands of tetrahedrons. Paradigm, 2016, a permanent installation which marked the inauguration of The Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross, is currently one of the tallest public sculptures in central London.

About Crossrail Art Programme

Nine artists are creating ten works of public art that will be integrated into seven of the new Elizabeth line stations to create a unique 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 core funding. The Crossrail Art Foundation is raising funds from corporate funders, with each contribution being match funded by the City of London Corporation.

  • Paddington – US artist Spencer Finch’s hand drawn cloudscape will be printed into the 120 metre glazed canopy, co-funded by Heathrow and City of London Corporation
  • Bond Street – British artist Darren Almond creating an abstract artwork that will be integrated into the spaces above and surround the escalators of the station’s western ticket hall, funded by Selfridges and City of London Corporation
  • Tottenham Court Road – Turner Prize winners Richard Wright and Douglas Gordon are producing distinct artworks for ticket halls at either end of the station, lead-funded by Almacantar and the City of London Corporation and co-funded by Derwent London
  • Farringdon – British artist Simon Periton’s locally inspired artworks will adorn both ticket halls at the centre of the Elizabeth line route, co-funded by Goldman Sachs and the City of London Corporation
  • Liverpool Street – Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and British sculptor Conrad Shawcross are creating new artworks for the station’s two ticket halls, sponsored by British Land, Landsec and City of London Corporation
  • Canary Wharf – digital art being developed by internationally renowned artist Michal Rovner, co-funded by Canary Wharf Group and the City of London Corporation.
  • Whitechapel – Inspired by the rich diversity of the local community, artist Chantal Joffe is creating large-scale collages for the platforms of the new station in east London

In total, seven London-based galleries have been selected to support the Crossrail Art Programme from a strategy developed in conjunction with FutureCity. They are:

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 Broadgate

Broadgate is at the centre of one of the most exciting and vibrant parts of London: a neighbourhood that connects the creative communities of Spitalfields and Shoreditch with the City, and is adjacent to Liverpool Street station. Set across 32 acres, Broadgate includes four landscaped squares, and places to shop, dine, and unwind. An estimated 65 million people visit Broadgate each year, which is set to increase with the opening of the Elizabeth line in December 2018.

About Landsec

At Landsec, we believe great places are for people to experience and are made with the experience of great people. As the UK’s largest listed commercial property company, with 23.7 million sq. ft. of real estate and a portfolio valued at £14.2 billion, we own and manage some of the most successful and recognisable assets in the country.

In London, our portfolio totals more than £7.8 billion, and consists of 6.5 million sq. ft. of real estate. From the world-famous Piccadilly Lights to the transformation of Victoria, SW1, we deliver exceptional experiences for the businesses and people that live and work in, and visit, the capital.

In retail, across our 17.2 million sq. ft. of assets, we create outstanding experiences for customers and guests alike. Combined with the strength and resilience of our portfolio, this means we regularly outperform industry benchmarks for footfall and sales. We offer more than convenience and choice, recognising that memorable destinations are key to attracting the shoppers and retailers of today, and tomorrow.

We also aim to lead our industry in critical long-term issues – from diversity and community employment, to carbon and climate resilience. Everything we do is grounded in experience and begins with people. We deliver value for our shareholders, great experiences for our customers and positive change for our communities. At Landsec, everything is experience.

About City of London

The City of London Corporation provides local government and policing services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain, the 'Square Mile'. In addition, the City Corporation has three roles:

  • The City of London Corporation, which is co-funding the Crossrail Art Programme, invests over £100 million every year in heritage and cultural activities of all kinds. It is the UK’s largest funder of culture after the government, the BBC, and the Heritage Lottery Fund. 
  • It was agreed at the 2 October 2007 Court of Common Council meeting that approval be given to a contribution by the City of London Corporation to the cost of Crossrail in the sum of £250 million.
  • Supporting London’s communities by working in partnership with neighbouring boroughs on economic regeneration, education and skills projects. In addition, the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust makes grants of more than £15 million annually to charitable projects across London and supports education with three independent schools, three City Academies, a primary school and the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
  • Helping look after key London’s heritage and green spaces including Tower Bridge, Museum of London, Barbican Arts Centre, City gardens, Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest, Burnham Beeches, and important ‘commons’ in south London.
  • Supporting and promoting the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events and research-driven policies all reflecting a long-term approach.