The rather forbidding new building is given a vibrant makeover with ceramic artist’s Jacqueline Poncelet’s vitreous enamel ‘Wrapper’, consisting of 700 decorated panels covering 1500m2 – the largest of its kind in Europe.
The artwork references the coloured arterial lines of the Tube map, while its use of patterning also appears to reference the fabrics, carpetware and Moorish tiles which characterise the spirit of the local area.
Poncelet has been a leading ceramicist since the 1970s, and has also branched out into painting, sculpture and public art commissions. Her work is distinctive in its use of carefully composed arrangements of patterns and colours, often referencing the visual overlapping and complexity of the urban environment.
Poncelet says, ‘Pattern can identify different cultures at a glance, can suggest other places, can conjure varieties of feeling, can change expectation, relieve boredom and calm what is cluttered’.
Complementing the exterior installation, artist Jessie Brennan has created Everything Meets Here, a 3m-long long pencil drawing of an imaginary landscape situated in the entrance to Edgware Road station. The artwork was developed with input from the St Marylebone Society, local residents, photography students and London Underground staff.
It remains to be seen how well this monumental new growth in the centre of the city will cohere with its surroundings: the glare of the Westway flyover, and its attendant 1970s housing blocks. The patchwork composition is heavy with the language of ‘community art’ – the sort that tirelessly sings about all creeds and colours, and looks strangely ominous on a grey day. Nevertheless, its use of an original material and its well-meaning concealment of an otherwise apocalyptic-looking building speak at least of a ‘bright’ future, and raises interesting questions about the role of municipal art: just a decorative ‘wrapper’, or an integral core?
Wrapper and Everything Meets Here are formally opened at Edgware Rd Tube station (Circle line), Chapel Street at 6:30pm, Tuesday 20 November.