The London Underground’s roundel has been an enduring symbol of the city since its introduction in 1908, but next month, it’ll be getting a temporary makeover.
From 14 November to February 2020, as part of his ongoing “Relic Traveller” series, British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong will transform the familiar logo, setting aside its historic red, white, and blue in favour of a pan-African palette of red, black, gold and green – eight new versions in total, to be installed in 70 sites around the Westminster tube station.
According to an Art on the Underground press release, Achiampong’s chosen colours symbolise “various African diasporic identities: green, black, and red, which reflect the land, the people and the struggles the continent has endured, while gold represents a new day and prosperity.” Rooted in science fiction and Ghana’s traditional Adinkra symbols, the project not only underscores the African diaspora’s lesser-known contributions to the city – and the sense of connection within the diaspora itself – but it also floats the idea of alternate histories, with the aim of starting a dialogue about the relationship between African mythologies and science fiction.
“To be given the opportunity to create an artwork that opens up questions around history and contemporary society, whilst celebrating the innumerable stories that have passed through this city feels timely and important,” Achiampong said in a statement.
This commission is part of a systemwide Art on the Underground programme that examines the city’s complicated feelings around the UK’s impending withdrawal from the European Union, via pieces from well-regarded artists at stations across London.
“Across 2019, Art on the Underground’s series of commissions explore what it means to be ‘on edge’ and asks how artists can play a role in developing ideas of togetherness and belonging,” Art on the Underground head Eleanor Pinfield said in a statement. “Situated at Westminster at a time of significant national debate on the country’s future, Achiampong’s commission imbues the familiar iconography of London Underground’s logo with new meaning.”