Crossrail unveils The Culture Line

Thus far, London’s Crossrail transport system implementation hasn’t been the most aesthetically pleasing of tasks. Indeed, it’s turned much of the capital into a pocked building site.

Paddington Station Design
Paddington Station Design

However, Crossrail isn’t entirely blind to beauty, it seems. Last night, it unveiled plans for a line-wide arts programme, The Culture Line, which will see the eight central Crossrail stations partner with eight London art galleries to create a series of large-scale artworks when the line opens in 2018.

An artist will be selected for each station, with the first named as New York-based artist Spencer Finch, represented by Lisson Gallery, whose 120m long, 20m wide piece A Cloud Index, which will be housed at Paddington station.

A Cloud Index by Spencer Finch
A Cloud Index by Spencer Finch

The glazed canopy will form a taxonomy of more than 25 different types of clouds, harking back to the English landscape tradition of sky imagery in the vein of the likes of Constable and Turner.

Finch says, ‘No one believes me when I say this, but English clouds are really different from American clouds, they are closer to the horizon, denser, and move across the sky differently. I am so excited to have this opportunity to get to know these English clouds and do something beautiful with them on a grand scale.’

Spencer Finch
Spencer Finch

For the rest of the line, Crossrail is continuing to work with the galleries, which currently include Victoria Miro for Liverpool Street, Gagosian for Tottenham Court Road, and White Cube for Bond Street station and Sadie Coles for Farringdon, to find other artists. Crossrail is in discussions with other galleries for the remaining stations at Whitechapel, Canary Wharf and Custom House.

A panel including Kate Bush, head of Barbican art galleries and Ann Elliott, an independent curator and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, will select works for consideration for the rest of the line, with artists invited tosubmit proposals that incorporate The Culture Line’s ‘Three Big Ideas’, says Crossrail.

These are ‘Art & Architecture’, meaning artists can work with the architectural design teams and the manufacturers of the keynote materials selected for the build, enabling them to incorporate these materials in their work; ‘The River of Light’, allowing them to incorporate Crossrail’s light technology for installations or to stream digital art; and ‘The Urban Gallery’, encouraging site-specific pieces for each of the stations and the public spaces surrounding them.

The programme is solely funded through private sponsorship.

For more information on the Crossrail Art Programme visit

Start the discussionStart the discussion
  • Post a comment

Latest articles

From the archives: Picture Post

As we head back into our archives, here’s a gem from March 1990. Jane Lewis looks at the creative ways design firms promoted their services through mail-outs.