The January 2022 Tube Pocket Map Artwork: What Does It Mean?

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 10 months ago
The January 2022 Tube Pocket Map Artwork: What Does It Mean?
someone in a tfl uniform holds a copy of the new pocket tube map
Two million of the new pocket maps are now in Image: TfL

The 35th edition of the pocket tube map has arrived — with a striking artwork by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong adorning the cover.

'What I Hear I Keep' uses the Pan African colours of green, black, and red — reflecting the land, people and struggles that Africa has endured. The yellow-gold, meanwhile, represents a 'new day and prosperity'.

Achimpong's design on a poster at Westminster station
A permanent What I Hear I Keep artwork has been promised for Westminster station later in 2022. Image: TfL

Forming a horseshoe shape on this yellow-gold background are 54 stars; each representing a country on the African continent, while the chevrons allude to the 'act of sending and receiving messages that resonate'.

The design, says the artist, is intended to: "explore the imagination and a sense of connectedness across African communities, and to reconsider their often forgotten or erased contributions to the city."

a train whizzes past a commuter on her phone at a platform - the roundel next to her is a Larry Achiampong design
In 2019, Achiampong reimagined 72 roundels in Westminster tube station. Image: GG Archard. © Larry Achiampong. Courtesy of the Artist & Copperfield, London

It's part of an entire series of flags and symbols that Achiampong has created to highlight and celebrate African identities. As part of this, in 2019, Achiampong reimagined 72 roundels in Westminster tube station for his installation 'Pan African Flags For The Relic Travellers' Alliance'. This was temporary, but later in 2022, we're told, What I Hear I Keep will be unveiled very soon as a permanent artwork in the same station.

Two million of the January 2022 pocket maps are now being circulated across the tube network; Achiampong's artwork isn't the only difference you'll notice: the tube map itself has been updated to reflect the four-month closure of the Bank branch — and you may notice that the previously-droopy extension to Battersea Power Station, has been, er, reinvigorated.

Achiampong's first major UK solo exhibition opens at Turner Contemporary in Margate this March.

Last Updated 18 January 2022