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New Tube map cover pays tribute to green-fingered TfL staff

TfL's Art on the Underground programme launches 39th pocket Tube map with commission by artist Joy Gregory

  • Artwork captures plants and flowers nurtured by TfL staff in gardens across the transport network, using camera-less photographic technique long used by women photographers
  • Gardens have flourished in TfL stations for more than 100 years, bringing a sense of wellbeing to the millions of people who use London's transport network

Transport for London's (TfL's) Art on the Underground programme will launch on Saturday 9 December a new pocket Tube map featuring a rich photographic collage by artist Joy Gregory, inspired by more than 100 years of cultivated gardens on London's transport network.

The artwork is the 39th piece commissioned by Art on the Underground to adorn the cover of a pocket Tube map and launches as London's iconic Tube map celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. Since 2004, there have been two new artist-designed Tube map covers every year, with previous artists including Joy Labinjo, Larry Achiampong and Phyllida Barlow.

Gregory, who works primarily in photography, has taken inspiration for her map cover from TfL's annual staff gardening competition 'In Bloom', which recognises staff for cultivating gardens in unlikely station environments. Having visited and documented gardens across the TfL network, Gregory was inspired by Morden station's garden and its bounty of fruit and vegetables, naming the piece after what the station's Customer Service Manager calls 'a little slice of paradise.'

Gregory's pocket Tube map cover pays tribute to the staff that work hard to make the transport network a welcoming environment. 'A Little Slice of Paradise' features a cyanotype image of chickweed digitally collaged with photographs of flowers including camellias, dahlias and nasturtiums in station gardens. A cyanotype is a Victorian photographic technique that captures the imprint of an object laid on top of light-sensitive photographic paper in blue hues and without the use of a camera. The rich palette of the artwork is evocative of Dutch Old Master flower paintings as well as the histories of photography.

The cyanotype was used by some of the earliest known women photographers to document botanical objects at a time when women were discouraged from engaging with the sciences. Gregory draws on this feminist history throughout her work, using the cyanotype to reilluminate and reframe overlooked narratives about identity, race, gender and social history which underscore contemporary society.

Joy Gregory, Artist, said: 

'The most beautiful and rewarding part of working on this commission was seeing the positive impact these gardens had on the lives of people using the transportation system, as well as the pleasure it conveyed to the creators of these enchanting spaces and their colleagues.'

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: 

'Our Tube stations are not just transport hubs, they are icons of design and each one has something that makes it special. Cultivated gardens on London's transport network are part of that rich tapestry and I want to thank artist Joy Gregory for merging past and present floral designs in the new pocket Tube map cover.

'It is a wonderful daily reminder for all of us who travel on the Tube network of the effort and dedication TfL staff have put into maintaining these magnificent gardens. Thank you for making our commute more enjoyable, helping us build a greener and better London for all.'

Eleanor Pinfield, TfL's Head of Art on the Underground, said:

'Gregory has turned a spotlight on a fascinating part of TfL's history and a vibrant part of its contemporary life. Bringing the botanical to the front of the pocket Tube map, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year is a fitting tribute to TfL staff who nurture plants year-round. This new artwork is a poignant reminder of the care that staff bring to the spaces we use every day as we travel.'

The new Tube map is free and will be available at all stations across the TfL network from Saturday 9 December.

Joy Gregory, with the Whitechapel Gallery, has been announced as the winner of the Freeland Award 2023. This award enables organisations to present an exhibition by a mid-career woman artist who may not yet have received the acclaim or public recognition that her work deserves. Whitechapel Gallery will stage Gregory's first monographic exhibition in Autumn 2025. Art on the Underground will unveil a new series of artworks by Gregory, an extension of her pocket Tube map commission, at Heathrow Terminal 4 Underground station in June 2024. 

Notes to editors:

About Art on the Underground

Art on the Underground invites artists to create projects for London's Underground that are seen by millions of people each day, changing the way people experience their city. Incorporating a range of artistic media from painting, installation, sculpture, digital, and performance, to prints and custom Tube map covers, the programme produces critically acclaimed projects that are accessible to all, and which draw together London's diverse communities. Since its inception, Art on the Underground has presented commissions by UK-based and international artists including Jeremy Deller, Yayoi Kusama, Mark Wallinger and Tania Bruguera, allowing the programme to remain at the forefront of contemporary debate on how art can shape public space.

About Joy Gregory

Joy Gregory is an important and influential artist sometimes overlooked by the mainstream as her work does not easily fit into any framework. Her practice is concerned with social and political issues often making particular reference to histories and cultural differences, which characterise contemporary society. The work is highly intelligent, thoughtful and challenging, tending toward a seductive aesthetic which underlines its relevance and accessibility across class, race, cultural, and economic divides. As an artist, she makes full use of the media from video, digital and analogue photography to Victorian print processes. She studied at Manchester Polytechnic (1984) and the Royal College of Art (1986) where she graduated with an MA in Photography. She has exhibited all over the world and shown in many biennales and festivals and is also the recipient of numerous awards.

Her work included in many collections including the UK Arts Council Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, and Yale British Art Collection. She currently lives and works in London. In 2002, Gregory received the NESTA Fellowship and is currently a Visiting Scholar at Yale Centre of British Art in New Haven researching for new work. She has recently completed a commission for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and NPG Artist Residency at The Exchange, Newlyn in Penzance.

In 2023, she was shortlisted for the Freelands Foundation Award for the first major retrospective of her work at the Whitechapel Gallery in autumn 2025. As well as being a highly respected artist, Gregory is a renowned educator of 30 years with a wide range of experience from formal to community and elementary schools to higher education. She has been the Director of Higher Education programmes in the UK and overseas and was the external examiner for the MFA in Photography at the National Institute of Design, India and the BA Fine at Duncan & Jordanstown. Joy has also been involved in a variety of photography mentorship programmes including a project around climate change for the British Council in Nigeria and for the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg training marginalized communities in the Kalahari to take control and tell their own stories without being filtered by an outside voice.

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