Reflected views of the city

This artwork was created as a specific commission for a site at Livery St in the centre of Birmingham.

The idea of the design is to create a window to another place – part real world, part abstract it is influenced by views of the city life through the trees in the surrounding countryside in the middle of the night. The final construction fragments the abstract design to reflect the corporate glass structures of the surrounding area. However instead of mirroring the buildings in the area, the design reflects a view of the city from its natural surroundings. Looking into the final piece the viewer actually gazes upon the city from another location but is also in effect looking upon themselves. They therefore enter into an imaginary infinite loop.

The artwork is directly created for the people of Birmingham, for those who walk and pass by the area, rather than as any political or social statement. The idea is based on bringing a sense of nature and escapism into the fast moving city, something people can look into as well as accompany and engage them as they pass by.

The artwork was meticulously designed and created digitally by George Benson then applied to the wall by the team at Grafitti4Hire.

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The wall at Livery St, 12th April 2012
Original Sketch, 30th April 2012
Photo from Lickey hills Looking towards Birmingham at 5am
Trees in the Lickey Hills
From the Project ‘The Seat At Night’

Here is a overview of the concepts behind the commission and development behind the ideas….

Background

When visiting the space at Livery Street the day was dull, the concrete was dull and dirty and the space felt somewhere to pass through quickly. However it was a transitional space more than anything. Seen either from a distance on the ring road; by drivers passing on their way to the car park; by commuters coming from the subway or other routes on their way into the business district; and by people on their way to the train station on their journey somewhere else.

As people move past this space it was felt we must give them something that accompanies them on their journey something that they can look into. Rather than a direct, obvious in your face piece of artwork it was felt that something deeper, that slightly melted into the environment was more appropriate. We must also give the people passing something for their mind as they transition past and where possible almost allow them to interact with what they see – not just look at it.

Idea Formation

The idea of creating a window came about that people look into but not actually really see beyond. The window itself becomes the object you are looking at. From recent trips into the woods at Lickey Hills on 4am photo projects I was reminded of how the trees created a mask or window into which you looked beyond at the lights of the city. Reversing this concept the artwork could allow people from the city to look out back into the forest through the lights of the city. The research photographs created an abstract silhouette image from the trees with the out of focus lights behind.

From this could be created an abstract world, an idea, an imagination that people could look into. It also reverberated with the new buildings at the Snow Hill area, which reflected the world back in a distorted fragmented reality.

The resulting image would also create rhythm of colour and shape which follows the passer by and as they traverse up or down the street, the distribution of the elements in the work will move up and down in and out of the field of vision creating a kind of interaction and adding interest and intrigue.

The vision

The vision became this. Create a part abstract, part real world window, a mask of the tress of the forest molded into abstract formations, offering a view into somewhere else. The wall is now no longer a wall but an opening into somewhere else, a window. Everyday people can walk past this and look into the window and wonder what’s in there, through the trees and beyond. The abstract shapes of the lights and the reflections of the world around and also themselves creates a moment of tranquility but also contemplation in the fast moving city.

Execution

The original idea for the application of the design was to mount raised transparent acrylic panels onto a black painted concrete wall. The design would then be printed or cut from adhesive vinyl and applied to these panels. This method would create an impression of a window with additional depth allowing the design to create shadows and the panels to reflect light from the surroundings.

Unfortunately the final result from the survey of the wall meant it was unsafe to adhere anything to the wall and so the only way to apply the design was to paint it on.