Elizabeth line: Moorgate TfL sculpture’s ‘musical descent towards peace’

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As part of the Crossrail project, sculptures were commissioned for stations on what would become the Elizabeth line.

A public sculpture commissioned more than a decade ago has been installed as part of Crossrail’s Elizabeth line project.

Manifold (Major Third) 5:4, by artist Conrad Shawcross, was unveiled outside Moorgate’s west entrance in Moorfields on Monday.

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The bronze sculpture stands at 7m and was inspired by a harmonograph, a Victorian pendulum-driven drawing machine.

Mr Shawcross said: “Essentially [the sculpture] is an algorithm which shows this descent towards silence. It’s a visualisation of a musical chord and it was conceived about 10 years ago now for this entrance.

“It was conceived for the Crossrail programme because I won a competition back in 2012.”

The work was commissioned as part of The Crossrail Art Foundation’s public art programme for the Elizabeth line with the support of Victoria Miro Gallery. The project was co-funded by Landsec and the City of London Corporation. Other pieces were created by artists including Spencer Finch, Chantal Joffe and Darren Almond.

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Manifold (Major Third) 5:4 by artist Conrad Shawcross was unveiled at Moorgate as part of the Elizabeth line project. (Photo by Jack Abela)Manifold (Major Third) 5:4 by artist Conrad Shawcross was unveiled at Moorgate as part of the Elizabeth line project. (Photo by Jack Abela)
Manifold (Major Third) 5:4 by artist Conrad Shawcross was unveiled at Moorgate as part of the Elizabeth line project. (Photo by Jack Abela) | Jack Abela

The Moorgate sculpture was made of hundreds of cast pieces of bronze that were assembled in Spain and “shipped here before Brexit”, said Mr Shawcross.

“I knew that it would be quite a narrow street so it had to have a very small footprint and grow bigger, because I knew it would be a very busy thoroughfare, so something large and blocking isn’t really appropriate for an entrance to a station. You need to really create those flows,” he said.

“It starts off very thin at the top like a river. It’s very thin and fast. As it falls and decays and loses entropy, it gets fatter and slower like a river, which obviously helps with the structure. So the stem is very strong and supports the tornado-like spine as it emerges.”

He said he has had to be patient while the work waited in storage, but that he is excited to see it in place.

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The Elizabeth line stretches more than 100km from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

Since opening in May 2022, it has carried more than 200 million passengers, with around 4.1 million passenger journeys now taking place each week.

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