Stand on the platform at Edgware Road tube station (the Circle Line branch that is, not the Bakerloo line), face south, and you can hardly fail to notice WrapperJacqueline Poncelet’s latest work, which literally wraps the building above in 1,500 square metres of vitreous enamel. There’s much to like about this striking work – one aspect I find particularly fascinating is the way in which Poncelet uses patterns and colours to tell a story, a device often found in her work.


As regular Tube travellers will soon guess, the colours employed in Wrapper reflect those used for various lines on the Tube map, in a nice hat tip to the building’s use. Poncelet’s research into the local area led to the inclusion of numerous references to local history, places, architecture, transport, waterways and people in the work’s patterns. Closer inspection reveals the leaves of Regents Park, water patterns that suggest the Tyburn stream flowing underground and Moorish tiles reflecting nearby Edgware Road.


Some of the best views of Wrapper are gained from outside the station in Chapel Street. Both the variety of Wrapper’s patterns and the differing contours it follows around the building means that different stories and different views of the work are revealed depending on where the viewer stands. In this way, Poncelet’s design reflects the way in which the building is generally viewed in parts rather than in its entirety.


Poncelet started her artistic career as a ceramicist but has since branched out. Wrapper’s¬†abstract patterns were actually screenprinted onto the enamel surface.¬†To give some idea of the massive scale of the work, over 700 enamel panels were used across approximately 1,500 square metres, making Wrapper not only Poncelet’s largest work but Europe’s biggest vitreous enamel artwork.


Thanks to Joanna Moncrieff, City of Westminster Tour Guide and Westminster Walking blogger, who tipped me off about Wrapper after seeing it on one of her walks.




Aldwych tube tour


Every so often the London Transport Museum opens up the ‘non-operational’ Aldwych Underground Station for guided tours. And at the risk of sounding like a train-spotter of the first order, I was lucky enough to get tickets for the latest round of these, held over the last weekend in November and the first weekend in December.

Aldwych station, first opened in 1907 and originally known as ‘Strand’, finally closed to the general public in 1994 – though it’s hard to believe it was so recent given the state of its interior and the 1970s posters still adorning the walls. Other than transporting people from A to B, it’s other major claim to fame was as a bomb shelter in World War One and World War Two. What it also sheltered from the bombs was paintings from the National Gallery (WWI) and objects from the British Museum and the V&A (WWII). The Elgin/Parthenon Marbles spent some years languishing behind the door in the picture below (and note the tiling ‘practice’ on the right hand side).


The station also features in a number of films (V for Vendetta, Atonement and James Bond’s Die Another Day), and is currently used for training purposes by emergency services. The tour takes in both platforms, and ladies you should leave the heels at home for this one as sensible shoes are required in case of a serious evacuation – which would involve walking down the tunnel to Holborn station. It’s a fascinating way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon and is again the sort of event that I hope to advise people of beforehand in the future! You can keep an eye out for yourself on the Transport Museum’s page below, but be quick when tickets do go on sale next time as they sell out extremely quickly.