Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross to create major public artworks for London’s Elizabeth line.(Crossrail)

  • Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will create her first permanent UK installation for new Liverpool Street Elizabeth line station at Broadgate
  • British artist Conrad Shawcross will create a bronze sculpture outside the station’s western entrance at Moorgate
  • Kusama artwork funded by British Land and Shawcross by Landsec with match funding provided by City of London Corporation
  • Artists’ plans unveiled at new Whitechapel Gallery exhibition – Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line (13 March – 6 May 2018)
  • Download images of the artists and artworks here

Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross have been unveiled as the final two artists selected to create major new works of public art for the Crossrail Art Programme.

The artists’ plans were unveiled at the launch of Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth line, a new exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery that opened this morning (13 March). The exhibition showcases the ideas of all nine artists who have been selected for the Crossrail Art programme – a unique series of ten public artworks that are being integrated into seven stations on the new Elizabeth line.

IMAGE: Digital rendering of Infinite Accumulation, 2017, © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Kusama, who has been named the world’s most popular artist for global museum attendance, is creating her first permanent UK installation. Titled ‘Infinite Accumulation’, the site-specific work develops her instantly recognisable motif – the polka dot – into a series of flowing, mirrored steel sculptures, each up to 12 metres wide and 10 metres tall. Undulating tubular rods will support a sequence of highly polished spheres, guiding passengers from the public spaces outside the station into the eastern entrance of the Elizabeth line station at Broadgate.

IMAGE: Digital rendering of Manifold (Major Third 5:4), 2017, © Conrad Shawcross. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

‘Manifold’ by British artist Conrad Shawcross will be a bronze sculpture positioned outside the Moorgate entrance of the Elizabeth line station. Taking inspiration from musical harmony, Shawcross has used a machine based on the Victorian harmonograph – with its two pendulums that draw the oscillation of a sound wave – to map the complex shape of a specific piano chord that is falling into silence. Encapsulating the dynamic visual potential of harmonics, the resulting ‘drawing’ will be sculpted in three dimensions using bronze to create a unique signpost at the entrance of the station.

The Kusama artwork will be funded by the commercial property company British Land who are creating a new mixed-use neighbourhood, Broadgate, adjacent to Liverpool Street station. The Shawcross artwork will be funded by Landsec. Match funding for all Crossrail programme artworks is being provided by City of London Corporation.

Conrad Shawcross, said:

“It has been a long journey to this point and I’m so excited to now be able to officially talk about this ambitious commission. Finding a home for a work is always the final but hardest part of an artist’s creative process, so knowing that an idea will have a permanent location is such a good feeling; all the better for it being my home town. To be alongside such a great progression of artists peppered along the epic engineering endeavour that is Crossrail is such an exciting thing.”

David Lockyer, Head of Broadgate, British Land, said:

“Creating a public arena for culture at Broadgate is key to the campus’ evolution into a mixed-use, world class neighbourhood for London. We are delighted to support Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinite Accumulation’. It will be a fantastic addition to the campus and will further position the wider area as an exciting arts and cultural hub for London.”

Ross Sayers, Development Director, Landsec, said:

“It’s a privilege to work with Conrad Shawcross as we deliver this strategically important site for the City of London. Conrad’s ‘Manifold’ sculpture, which maps the complex shape of a piano chord, perfectly complements the musical heritage of the nearby Barbican Centre, home of the LSO and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation, said:

 “As one of the UK’s major supporters of the arts, the City of London Corporation has taken pride in supporting the Crossrail Art Programme, which has brought together well-respected artists from around the world. These hugely creative pieces of art are turning heads and will enliven people’s experiences of travelling around London on the Elizabeth line. My colleagues and I congratulate Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross on being invited to take part in the Programme.”

Sir Terry Morgan, Crossrail Chairman, said:

“The addition of Yayoi Kusama and Conrad Shawcross to the already hugely impressive roster of artists creating bespoke works for the Elizabeth line is a testament to the scale and ambition of the new railway. The Crossrail Art Programme is the biggest single addition to London’s collection of public art in a generation. It will cement London’s place as a global capital for arts and culture.”

Liverpool Street in the heart of the City of London is one of 10 brand new Elizabeth line stations being built across the capital.

When the Elizabeth line opens this December, it will provide quicker, easier and more accessible journeys between London’s major airports and key employment, leisure and business districts. Transport for London’s newest railway will carry over 200 million passengers per year, adding 10% capacity to central London’s rail network.

About Yayoi Kusama

Portrait of Yayoi Kusama © Yayoi Kusama Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; David Zwirner, New York and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

For almost seventy years Kusama has developed a practice, which, though it shares affiliations with movements such as Surrealism, Minimalism and Pop Art, resists any singular classification. Far-reaching, expansive and immersive, her work alludes to microscopic and macroscopic universes.

Born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York in the late 1950s and by the mid-1960s had become well known in the avant-garde world for her provocative happenings and exhibitions. Since this time, Kusama’s extraordinary artistic endeavours have spanned painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, film, printmaking, installation and environmental art as well as literature, fashion (most notably in her 2012 collaboration with Louis Vuitton) and product design.

Kusama represented Japan at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993, and currently lives and works in Tokyo, where the Yayoi Kusama Museum opened October 2017 with the inaugural exhibition Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art.  A major exhibition focusing on the evolution of Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms is currently touring North America. In 2016 Yayoi Kusama was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People. She was also named the world’s most popular artist for global museum attendance, based on figures reported by The Art Newspaper.

About Conrad Shawcross

Portrait of Conrad Shawcross © Marc Wilmot. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

Imbued with an appearance of scientific rationality, Conrad Shawcross’ sculptures explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Inspired by different technologies, the artist’s structures may retain in appearance the authority of machines – yet, they remain enigmatic, filled with paradox and wonder. Some have an absurdist melancholy feel, while others tend to the sublime, substituting the purely functional for phenomenological experience. In the end, Shawcross’ art questions what we take for granted and encourages us to see beyond the physical.

Conrad Shawcross was born in 1977 in London, where he currently lives and works. He is the youngest living artist to be elected to the Royal Academy of Arts. The artist has undertaken numerous prestigious commissions. In June 2017, the Royal Academy of Arts and St Pancras International unveiled the major site-specific installation, The Interpretation of Movement (a 9:8 in blue), as part of the Terrace Wires series. The work was on view until December 2017. Unveiled in autumn 2016, The Optic Cloak is a major architectural intervention for the Greenwich Peninsula low carbon Energy Centre. Three Perpetual Chords, 2015, is a series of permanent sculptures commissioned for Dulwich. The Dappled Light of the Sun, 2015, first installed in the Annenberg Courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts, London as part of the Summer Exhibition 2015, is an immersive work comprising branching cloud-like forms made of thousands of tetrahedrons. Paradigm, 2016, a permanent installation which marked the inauguration of The Francis Crick Institute in King’s Cross, is currently one of the tallest public sculptures in central London.

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