Crossrail is coming. Yes, we know that's not news to anyone. But what you might not know is that many of the stations are getting art-y makeovers. It's the subject of a free exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery.
It may not be a particularly large exhibition, but what it lacks in size it makes up in scale. It's got lots of samples and models — some of the final works will be so big that they wouldn't fit in any gallery, anywhere.
Spencer Finch will be placing his sketches of clouds along the 120 metres of glass panels on the roof of Paddington station. We imagine it'll be pretty trippy to look at fluffy clouds in a blue sky through glass panels with clouds on them, especially for those who've just arrived from Heathrow and are still getting their bearings. A small-scale model is suspended under a skylight in the gallery so we can sample this disorienting effect.
In a nice touch each station that's going to contain artwork has partnered with a gallery and commissioned art that's reflective of the local area. Whitechapel station has naturally partnered with Whitechapel Gallery, which has asked painter Chantal Joffe to incorporate portraits that reflect the diversity of Whitechapel's community.
In a similar vein, Douglas Gordon's neon light works at Tottenham Court Road will reference nearby Soho and Michal Rovner's digital art, populated with hundreds of people, is particularly apt for the hustle and bustle of Canary Wharf.
Conrad Shawcross has a towering sculpture outside the Francis Crick Institute and will produce another outside Moorgate, this time inspired by musical harmonies as threads of the work intertwine with another as if they were made of liquid.
Yayoi Kusama, known for her insanely popular infinity rooms, will produce a series of giant polished steel balls which resemble an alien creature covered in giant rain droplets for Liverpool Street.
Before we all start worrying how much this all costs, it won't be coming out of the Crossrail budget. Each work has a sponsor so there's no public money being spent on the art — we just get to enjoy it all.
This show is just a taster to whet our appetite for the grand reveal when Crossrail opens. Before you ask, no we're still not calling it the Elizabeth line.
Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line is on at Whitechapel Gallery until 6 May 2018. The gallery and this exhibition are free to visit. While there, you can check out the impressive Mark Dion exhibition, which we awarded the full five stars.