JPLD creative director James Poore has been working with Art On The Underground and TfL now for over 20years and in that time has worked on a whole host of exciting projects, often unusual, regularly challenging, yet always rewarding.

The unique, pioneering programme from Art On The Underground brings world renowned artists into the public domain changing the way travellers and commuters experience the city.

The latest exhibition ‘Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily’ by British artist Monster Chetwynd is an immersive installation, located at Gloucester Road tube station incorporating a series of five 4-metre diameter disc-shaped sculptures along the length of a disused platform.

Each sculpture is populated with creatures – beetles, dragonfly larvae, tadpoles and tortoises – that appear to be constructing sections of the Crystal Palace. They show the underwater life of the submerged lily pads, their spiny network of veins playing host to the industrious wildlife.
JPLD have dramatically illuminated the discs like performers on a stage, each one carefully lit to bring out the character and immense level of detail on the individual pieces.

The intensity of the white light was dialled up on the discs with a slightly different, cooler white colour temperature to emphasise the discs against the backlit arches and the effects at either end of the platform to really make them stand out.

Rather than stepping down into the tunnels of the London Underground it is as if the viewer has stepped beneath the surface of the water, into a subterranean simulation of the Amazon.

JPLD used a different colour temperature of white light projected through a break-up gobo which was then blended with blue filtered light and de-focussed to create a mysterious effect on the arches at either end of the platform. The result leaves the viewer discombobulated, wondering if they are indeed under-water, maybe submerged in a secret cave.

The biggest challenge is working in this fairly hostile and restrictive location where there are strict parameters on what lighting can be used, where it can be located and where it can light.

Safety is obviously paramount so as well as adhering to the rigid standards of London Underground the fittings need to be angled so that they do not cause glare or distraction to the drivers. All setting up and programming also needs to be carried out at night during engineering hours when the power is off and the trains are not running, so, many late nights.

And of course, the station needs to be operational again by 05:00 in the morning so everything needs to be cleared away by 04:30 with no hint as to the forthcoming exhibition to ensure the mystery is maintained until the all important “reveal” when the artworks are uncovered and the lights turned on.

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