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Shelf lives

© london transport museum collection
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Photographic reproduction - not available to buy

Shelf lives, by Joel Bailey, Emma Weber, Matt Busher, Peter Harris, 2005

  • Published by Transport for London, 2005
  • Commissioned by Platform for Art
  • Format: Double royal
  • Dimensions: Width: 635mm, Height: 1016mm
  • Reference number: 2005/15822

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Platform for Art

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London's calendar has always been full of public events. These range from large scale annual events and one-off festivals, for which thousands of Londoners take to the streets, to smaller exhibitions held at a variety of specific venues. Transport companies have always taken the opportunity to promote travel to such events through their posters. On public holidays, when there were no scheduled events to promote, posters encouraged Londoners to travel out into the countryside or to explore the city.
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A wide variety of exhibitions in London have been promoted by posters. They range from large annual events, such as the Motor Show at Olympia, to cattle and dairy shows at Royal Agricultural Hall. Exhibitions have also been held in Underground stations. From the late 1920s to the mid 1960s, a variety of exhibitions were held in the booking hall at Charing Cross (now Embankment). Since 2000, Platform for Art has also exhibited work at stations, particularly on their designated platform at Gloucester Road.
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London's transport system

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By 1914 the Underground Group ran most of the Tube lines, three tram systems and the main London bus company, the LGOC. The posters publicise all these transport modes. Outside the Underground Group were the Metropolitan Railway and London County Council (LCC) Tramways, which ran separate poster campaigns. All these companies were merged into London Transport (LT) in 1933. The four main line railway companies also used posters to promote their London suburban services. Transport for London (TfL) replaced LT in 2000 with wider responsibility including taxis, streets, river services and some overground rail.
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The Underground has a long tradition of high quality station architecture, and has consciously promoted its best new environmental design through posters since the 1920s. More than 50 pre-war stations, including many designed by Charles Holden, are now listed buildings. New developments, station modernisation and openings, artistic decorative schemes and special exhibitions at stations such as Charing Cross (Embankment), which had its own display gallery until the 1960s, have all been featured in posters
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