The New Tube Map Artwork Cover Is Here... And It's A Beaut

The New Tube Map Artwork Cover Is Here... And It's A Beaut
A copy of the new artwork is held up next to the tube map
Do Ho Suh's artwork in the 37th to be commissioned. Image: TfL

Emma Kay's target-themed You Are in London, David Shrigley's stylish squiggles. Hew Locke's beautifully unnerving Tunnel Vision. We've all got our favourite tube map artwork covers. (I mean, you're a Londonist reader, so presumably you do...)

The 37th Art on the Underground commission has just landed: it's by London-based Korean artist Do Ho Suh, it's called Routes/Roots: London, and it's something of a beaut.

The artwork in poster form on a wall, flanked by two 'real' tube posters
The lines are embroidered, with countless strands fraying off in all directions, creating a tussled, fuzzy version of the map we know so well. Image: TfL

The artwork features a zoomed-in section of the tube map we know so well (now with the added aubergine hue of the Elizabeth line), but instead of being cleanly drawn, the lines are embroidered, with countless strands fraying off every which way, creating a tussled, fuzzy version of the map we know so well.

What does it all mean?

We're told that the central theme of Routes/Roots: London is an exploration of the patterns and idiosyncrasies of daily travel for everyone in the city, during and following the pandemic. "The tube map cover," says Art on the Underground, "connects to the new and old ways we navigate, the ways we move through and around the city."

The artwork — which has been created using traditional Korean embroidering techniques — plays with the idea that the tube map is a tool for rational navigation, when really, Londoners navigate according to all sorts of factors, say quieter journeys, or stopping off somewhere to meet a mate.

Racks of the pocket maps
Grab your copy of the new pocket map/artwork now. Image: TfL

In the artist's own words: "At heart, so much of my work is about the transportability of space, about what we carry with us as we move through the world, so I've loved working on an actual map and thinking about the gaps between the locations and complicating the neatness of the lines."

If the name Do Ho Suh sounds familiar, you might remember Bridging Home — his 2018 installation, which saw a traditional style Korean home incongruously jammed onto a pedway above Wormwood Street.

A traditional Korean home on a pedway
Bridging Home, London, 2018 © Do Ho Suh

Routes/Roots: London can be seen on the new pocket maps, stocked in London's tube stations as of right now. As well as the fresh artwork, the maps feature a further small tweak, with Bond Street now joined up to the Elizabeth line — since finally opening in October — and the new through-service. Sunday Elizabeth line trains are also now a thing.

Last Updated 08 November 2022

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