The Crossrail Art Foundation & City of London Artwashing

At a glance, like all artwashing operations, The Crossrail Art Foundation appears to benefit ordinary people – but a closer look shows it is designed to put something resembling a human face on City of London Corporation machinations. The City of London played a key role in getting Crossrail off the ground at least in part because it is the biggest owner of land abutting this project and the value of these holdings has been massively inflated by it.

The City of London is also the least democratic council in the UK and one of the most significant world lobbyists for neo-liberal politics that benefit the ultra-wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else. The Crossrail Art Foundation includes on its board two notorious City of London politicians, ‘Sir’ Mark Boleat and ‘Sir’ Michael Snyder, both of whom have served as heads of this council in the recent past.

Crossrail Art Foundation director and City of London councillor ‘Sir’ Mark Boleat.

Boleat has used his role in the City of London backed Housing & Finance Institute to call for an end to local democracy when it comes to planning decisions, with the exclusion of local councillors from such matters. This would bring all other UK councils closer in line with the City of London, where residents have no influence on council policies because 80% of ‘local’ politicians are elected on business votes given to the finance industry and its friends.

Crossrail Art Foundation director Sir’ Michael Snyder (left) and fellow freemason and City of London councillor Chris Hayward (centre right).

Snyder is a top freemason and with his brothers in the craft he plays a significant role in maintaining a glass ceiling on the City’s top jobs. For example since its founding in 1905, more than two thirds of the City’s Lord Mayors have belonged to the men only Guildhall Lodge despite only 0.36% of the English population being masons. Outside the military and the criminal justice system, freemasonry is insignificant in much of English society, but it still has a grip on the City of London where this men only club is a massive impediment to women achieving parity in pay and positions.

Given this we call on all those involved in the culture industry and more specifically those commissioned by or involved in commissioning for The Crossrail Art Foundation to boycott this organisation and any work it manages to install on the ‘Elizabeth Line’. Beneficiaries of these commissions and commissioning agencies currently include Spencer Finch, Darren Almond, Richard Wright, Douglas Gordon, Simon Periton, Yayoi Kusama, Conrad Shawcross, Michal Rovner, Chantal Joffe, FutureCity, Lisson Gallery, White Cube, Sadie Coles HQ, Victoria Miro, Whitechapel Gallery and PACE. To what extent these individuals and art organisations were aware of the nefarious activities of the City of London when they involved themselves with the Crossrail Art Foundation is unclear, but once they’re alerted to what’s going on unless they actively support the City of London’s anti-democratic agenda we would expect them to drop this connection.

That following taken from the Crossrail website illustrates how the anti-democratic artwashing agenda of the City of London is being sold to both those ignorant of what is really going on, as well as those who want to pretend they don’t know what’s going on:

The Crossrail Art Foundation, a registered charity, has been founded with support from the City of London Corporation, with a mission to promote art for the benefit of the public, by establishing and maintaining a public art programme that will enhance the journeys of the millions of people who will use the Elizabeth line.

Nine artists are creating ten works of public art that will be integrated into seven of the new Elizabeth line stations to create a unique exhibition that reflects the ambition of London’s newest railway and the communities it serves.

Together with internationally renowned London-based art galleries and a respected group of art-world representatives, the Crossrail Art Foundation is delivering the largest collaborative public art commissioning process in a generation.

The project falls outside Crossrail’s core funding. The Crossrail Art Foundation is raising funds from corporate funders, with each contribution being match funded by the City of London Corporation.

Crossrail’s Art Programme: Integrating Art and Infrastructure by Anonymous, undated on the Crossrail website.

Pippa Henslow.


Crossrail’s Art Programme: Integrating Art and Infrastructure:

Directors of the Crossrail Art Foundation:


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