Wednesday, 1 October 2008

ANIMAL TRANSPORTATION

After several postings about goats and donkeys in Greece, I thought I'd ask whether you knew - or had noticed - that London's Underground is full of animals? The entire system is literally teeming with them...

"Where?" you ask.

Answer: on the... TUBE MAP!


First designed in 1933 by designed by Harry Beck, the map has a fascinating history and the schematic diagram - mapping the underground routes topographically rather than geographically - have been widely adopted for other network maps around the world.

But what about the animals? Well, for a start there's The Great Bear...


Click to enlarge

An artwork by Simon Patterson, produced in 1992, 'The Great Bear' looks, at first glance, like the London Underground Tube map, but Patterson has replaced the station names on the different lines with the names of people: actors, artists, philosophers, politicians, saints, scientists, explorers, comedians, monarchs and footballers.

'The Great Bear', currently exhibited at Tate Modern, has been described as subverting "the concept of maps and diagrams as authoritative sources, and challenges our assumption that they can be utilised without question by taking this iconic information source and adding [the artist's] own idiosyncratic data to it."

There isn't actually a bear in or on 'The Great Bear', the title is a punning reference to the constellation Ursa Major along with Simon Patterson's own arrangement of ''stars''.

Several years before Patterson's work, Paul Middlewick became the first person to go animal-spotting when, in 1988, he sighted an elephant on the tube while staring at the underground map during his daily journey home from work.

And here it is...


Mr Middlewick really started something! The elephant tuned out to be just the first of a menagerie of creatures artfully created using the lines, stations and junctions on the London Tube map.

Among those taken into captivity are domestic animals such as a cockerel...


To wild creatures like the polar bear...


The rhino...

And the bottlenose whale...


There is also one animal which, unfortunately, has an occasional symbolic relevance to the London underground system - especially during weekend engineering works!



To hunt down your own tube wildlife visit Animals on the Underground.


5 comments:

Matt J said...

Hi Brian, I finally got a chance to meet Ronald Searle. Full report on my blog.

Brian Sibley said...

Well done, Matt! To read Matt's account of meeting Ronald Searle (one of the world's great graphic artists and, of course, the founder of that fine educational establishment, St Trinian's) copy and paste the following link into your search engine:

http://mattjonezanimation.blogspot.com/

LisaH said...

Yet another cracking Blog, Brian. I'd love to have a go at my own version of the Great Bear one day.

Richard Mitchelson said...

The tube map will never look the same again, thanks Brian.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, LISAH and RICHARD!

Interesting mix of art on your site, Richard: very enjoyable!