Stockholm’s T – the underground art

The thing I love most about traveling is that it’s always something new, some surprises, discoveries. Seeing metro stations in Stockholm is one of those surprises that I have got in my recent journey up to Nordic countries. Unlikely the familiar sign “M” which means Metro, here in Sweden it’s T (i.e tunnelbana). At the first glance. it caused me a little bit hesitation – what does it mean “T”, when seeing the sign from far, in my first day in Stockholm.

Back to the underground world in Stockholm, the Swedish playwright August Strindberg once declared that “art cannot continue to be exclusive to just some people, because then it won’t be long lived.” This prompted a discourse among a group of local artists, who campaigned for the decoration of Stockholm’s metro stations, which now serve more than half million passengers daily. I just got my T-access card (that’s Swedish named the subway card) so let’s me take you to some metro stations in Stockholm that amazed me!

Station Stadion 

Built in 1973, this station is one of the first cave stations, so the bright blue and the rainbow just to remind that the blue sky not far above and close by is the Stockholm Olympic Stadium.

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Station T-Centralen 

This’s a main hub of Stockholm’s subway, I see it everywhere in the center. It was opened up for traffic in 1957 and was the first station to feature artwork!  The artist, Per Olof Ultvedt, wanted to create a calming atmosphere because this is a station where people are in a hurry. They are changing trains to another metro line. So I think that his idea was that the blue color together with the simple motifs – stylized flowers and leaf creepers – gives passengers pause and a chance to clear their mind.

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Station Rådhuset

One of the most impressive stations that I have seen…the color, the light and the atmosphere, especially when I was the one left in the platform. This station lies on the island of Kungsholmen, first inhabited by Franciscan monks in the mid 15th century. In 1975 the artist Olsson created a pink underground grotto, complete with various imaginary archeological findings, including baskets from the medieval market and the plinth of a huge chimney stack.

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Imagine the feeling when you are the only one left in this cave…

Station Solna Centrum 

Two artists Björk and Åberg (1975) used this station as a political statement for the environmental movement. A spruce forest runs for almost 1,000 metres along the walls of the statement, underneath a blood-red sky.

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Scenes throughout the Solna Centrum mural carry messages against the rural depopulation and environmental changes which were occurring across Sweden at the time.

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Station Kungsträdgården

In 1977, artist Ulrik Samuelson transformed the station into an underground garden to reflect the rich history of this Stockholm suburb and the former 17th-century Makalos palace, built on the same site for one of Sweden’s most famous families, before being destroyed in 1825 following a fire.

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It’s one of the most stunning stations and probably most photographed, Kungsträdgården means “The King’s Garden”, is derived from the area’s royal history. Between 1643 and 1825 it was the site of the majestic Makalös Palace, and a beautiful French garden was built.

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After Makalös burned down, the site was used for military exercises. Almost everything on the station tells the story of the site above ground – about its history, former and current buildings. The color scheme – red, white and green – is a reference to the old French formal garden and statues around the station are actually replicas of Makalös Palace’s exterior art.

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Station Solna Strand 

The contrast between the heavenly cubes – jutting out from the ceiling and platform at Solna Strand – and the dark cave, is characteristic of Takashi Naraha’s art. The Japanese artist often uses a ying and yang-theme in his work.

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The balance between light and darkness. And in the way that the platform’s cubes mirror the open sky above ground and the black cube outside the station’s entrance – reminds the dark cave below ground.

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Station Tekniska Högskolan

Unsurprisingly, this’s the award-winning station with art by Lennart Mörk, is a celebration of the scientific advances and discoveries. The artist’s paintings, figures and sculptures, including this dodecahedron, represent the four classical elements – fire, air, water and earth – as well as the universe and technological advances. And the name of Tekniska Högskolan station refers to the nearby Royal Institute of Technology.

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It’s surely Isaac Newton’s apple representing his three laws of motion.

And here some other stations that I passed by in the morning. I use subway for how many years, but to be honest, only here in Stockholm, I feel the calm, the peace while sitting on the bench, waiting for my next train to another station. I did enjoy my moment in this “tunnelbana” and to me, it’s a strange, weird but positive feeling.

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Station Huvudsta – station on blue line features work from artist Per Holmberg 
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Station Sundbyberg Centrum 

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This station – Mörby Centrum is an exceptional, the color scheme on the wall is actually an optical illusion, the color change depends on where I stand on the platform. The effect was achieved by first lighting the wall and painting its shadows from one side, and then from the other. The artists, Gösta Wessel and Karin Ek wanted to emphasize the changing landscape on a journey, not only on the platform itself but more importantly from our starting point to our destination.

IMG_8381Ok, maybe time to go up and back to the ground! I quite like this colorful escalator, so easily noticeable between these solid heavy granite walls.

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