For most Londoners the London Underground is a place to hurry through, usually packed shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of your fellow commuters all trying to get to or from work. Busy travellers can be forgiven for seeing not much more during their time underground than their own shoes, the Mind The Gap signs on the floor, and the inside of the Evening Standard. But the Underground is also a place full of art, both deliberate and accidental. Now one Londoner is dedicating his daily journey to documenting the prints and patterns – some hidden, some less so – that decorate this transport institution.
Advertising account producer Andy Williams first noticed the range of art and pattern on display during his daily commute from Highgate to Soho, and began recording what he saw on his Instagram account Tube_Patterns. “These patterns kept catching my eye and I had a lightbulb moment,” he told the Evening Standard recently. I thought how many millions of people walk past every day without looking up and realising there us a sprawling art gallery on the Tube?”
The account features the distinctive patterns on the seat fabrics as well as the many tile murals created for different stations over the years, and the images juxtaposed on the Instagram account demonstrate the rich variety of visual styles. Everything from bold Pop Art to elegant Art Nouveau is represented. Williams himself says that his favourites are the motifs on the Victoria Line, many featuring puns on the names of individual stations. Can you spot in the images below which one appears at Baker Street Tube? Go on, test your powers of deduction.