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Mark Wallinger unveils largest art commission ever for London Underground's 150th anniversary

270 art works to be displayed at Tube stations

First ten artworks to go on display from 7 February

The commission, from Art on the Underground, is one of the highlights of a series of special events and commissions in 2013 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.

Inspired by the lexicon of the symbols of London Underground that have become some of the most recognised in the world, Mark Wallinger chose the ancient symbol of the Labyrinth with its single path, as the theme of the work. Each station will have its own unique Labyrinth design, emblazoned in black and white on a single 600mm² vitreous enamel panel, located in a prominent position, representing the journey through the network taken by millions of individuals each year from that place. 

Labyrinth will launch on 7 February with the first 10 central London stations: Baker Street, Bank, Embankment, Green Park, King’s Cross St Pancras, Oxford Circus, St James’s Park, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria and Westminster. Labyrinth will be installed across the whole network during the next few months, completing the permanent installation in all 270 stations in the summer.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “The greatest Underground system in the world has inspired a formidable legacy of art, including Beck's timeless map and the inventive poster designs that provide traveller information. 

“With Art on the Underground some of the best artists around have been able to use the Tube as a starting point for exciting new commissions that add to the passenger experience and underline London's status as a great world city for culture.”

Artist, Mark Wallinger, said: “It's an honour to have received this commission from London Underground to mark its 150th anniversary. The Underground has been part of my life since childhood. It’s surely every artist's dream to create a permanent work that will be encountered by so many of people and this opportunity is especially close to my heart. 

“The journeys we take on the Underground are unique to each of us. I hope Labyrinth can perhaps reflect that individual yet universal experience.”

Tamsin Dillon, Head of Art of the Underground for London Underground, said: “Ground breaking art and design has always been part of London Underground.  These striking, permanent black and white artworks are the perfect way to celebrate the Tube’s 150th anniversary.”

“I am sure that the 270 individual labyrinths especially created for each station will capture the imaginations of the millions of Tube customers that use the network every day. 

“Art on the Underground, like London Underground, is always focused on the future and our commissioning of cutting edge contemporary artists very much reflects this forward looking vision.”

Alongside the commission, Art on the Underground will continue its programme of collaborations between artists and young people, working with schools and over 30 boroughs to enable teachers, students and their communities to inspire their own creative responses which will be shared on the Labyrinth online microsite. A special project with young people in partnership with Youth Support Development Service in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea will lead to new artworks and exhibitions at selected Tube stations.

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