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London Overground Haggerston station

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Tod Hanson’s The Elliptical Switchback takes its inspiration from the achievements of a former Haggerston resident, the 17th century astronomer Edmond Halley.  Best known for predicting the return of the eponymous comet, Halley also made extensive studies of the Earth’s magnetism.  His theory to explain magnetic anomalies held that the Earth was in fact hollow, and within its shell were contained two other planets, each separated by its own atmosphere and magnetic poles.  Hanson’s design creates a series of ‘worlds within worlds’ through a clever use of trompe l’oeil.  In the very centre of the design the compass needle marks the North/South orientation of the station’s track, while the elliptical orbit of Halley’s comet acts to unify and animate the artwork.


Tod Hanson, the artist said: ‘I have lived in the area for many years and so was delighted to be able to do something permanent for Haggerston station. Discovering the Edmond Halley link to the area allowed me to explore fantastical notions of travel, through walls, through time and through space. I like the idea of the artwork still being there in 2061 when Halley's comet returns.’

This work is part of the London Overground Public Art Programme, curated and organised by Modus Operandi.

Title of work

The Elliptical Switchback


London Overground


Haggerston, London



Image credit

 © John Strurrock