Gloucester Road tube station has gained a series of huge plaster medallions that tell the stories of the local area’s cultural redevelopment following the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park.

It’s an artwork by Monster Chetwynd, and her installation is called “Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily”. Through her research into Gloucester Road and the local area Monster Chetwynd became fascinated by the giant Amazonian waterlily. This plant was the inspiration behind gardener-turned-architect Joseph Paxton’s pioneering design for the Crystal Palace, the building which housed the Great Exhibition.

Each of the five 4-metre discs is populated with creatures – beetles, dragonfly larvae, tadpoles and tortoises, which appear to be constructing sections of the Crystal Palace. A freestanding salamander, holding an Amazonian lily pad as a parasol, is an anthropomorphic addition to this scene of amphibian industry.

The sculptures reference the commemorative coins, medallions and souvenirs that were created to commemorate the Great Exhibition, as well as the array of terracotta animal sculptures that decorate the exterior walls and vaulted galleries of the Natural History Museum.

The Art on the Underground display, Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily will be on view for one year.

There are also some explanatory boards on the eastbound platform that explain the message behind the art.


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  1. Reaper says:

    Very nice no doubt but couldnt the money have been better used to reduce fares?

  2. L. Cross says:

    I love the art work and understand it better now that I have read the information relating to the inspired 1851 exhibition. The more I research Prince Albert I realise he was an amazing intellectual- we owe him the current London sewage system, support for railways, new technology and so much more. Unsurprisingly Queen Victoria tried to give him credit through the creation of Albertopolis I have admired previous art installations at Gloucester Road and I think it enhances London’s reputation for culture.

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