Assemble has transformed a derelict space at Seven Sisters underground station with over 1,000 handmade tiles, brightening up Londoners’ daily commute.
The Turner Prize-winning architecture collective teamed up with artist Matthew Raw to create Clay Station, which brings back to life an unloved commercial unit at the station’s entrance. Empty for over a decade and beset by anti-social behaviour problems, the space will now operate as a coffee shop from January 2018.
‘We wanted it to feel crafted, welcoming and generous,’ says Mathew Leung, a founding member of Assemble, which was commissioned by Art on the Underground. ‘This carries through to how people will think about the station entrance in general.’
Added the wider team: ‘We were interested in the impact that a small corner building could have if it was brought back into use after having lain empty for 10 years and was treated with an extraordinary amount of care.’
While Assemble’s renovation works were under way, a kiln was fitted in the space to allow the production of tiles on site, as well as workshops for local residents to make small ceramic objects. Each of the tiles covering the space is unique, made from plain white clay stained with different colour combinations before being sized, rolled, moulded, cut, dried, fired and glazed.
Clay Station is the latest piece of urban acupuncture from the group, which won the Turner Prize in 2015 for its Granby Four Streets project, revitalising derelict spaces in Liverpool with the help of the community. In keeping with that initiative, Assemble and Raw gave clay-making traineeships to two local residents while working on their station installation.
The Seven Sisters project is one of a long line of commissions by Art on the Underground for Transport for London. Among them is Daniel Buren’s ‘Diamonds and Circles’ intervention at Tottenham Court Road station and Mark Wallinger’s ‘Labyrinth’ artworks for each of the 270 stations.
Says Eleanor Pinfield, head of Art on the Underground: ‘We seek to change the way that people experience their city. This is a wonderful example of how art can be used within the network of London underground to change the feel of the space.’