The Amazing Art of Rip and Tear from the London Underground


The London Underground has undergone a huge reconstruction project over the last 10 years and a small aspect of that was the removal of all old advertising posters from the permanent frames within which they were attached.  These posters have been layered over each other for years and the goal was to remove the layers to get back to the clean framed backing.  To achieve this in a way that would not create dust throughout the tubes, crews came in at 1:00 a.m. with putty knives and scrapers to peal, rip and tear away the paper.  Signs were posted apologizing for the "mess" and because of this "conditioning" I first saw them as a mess in progress.  Then, one day, I looked again; but this time I was transfixed by what they presented.  They became beautiful collages of image, texture, print and color.  For me, the London Underground became a vast gallery of fine art waiting to be archived.  I began shooting the full posters and at night, when I got home and uploaded them to my computer, I was amazed by the imagery that unfolded.  I began to crop and enlarge areas of particular interest and the results resembled some of the masterpieces of abstract expressionists.  Even though I have seen them many times, new imagery continues to unfold.  I hope you enjoy your own discovery in the amazing art of rip and tear.

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