Wednesday, 18 April 2012

48 Sheets

This is a great project put together by EC-Arts, with nearly 100 billboards across Birmingham being given over to artists to create a large scale citywide exhibition in the streets! For all the info go here 48sheet
My submission was to be a hand drawn and hand made billboard inspired by Digbeth, the area I work in at the Custard Factory. Once the industrial heart of the city, now creative quarter and long established home of Birmingham's Irish community. My board is basically a portrait of a local hero, Lord Rowton, a Victorian philanthropist responsible for the Rowton Houses, decent affordable accommodation for poor workers (in Digbeths case often Irish migrant workers) and down and outs. I constructed the piece on old ply hand drawn signs, inspired by the old industrial buildings, factories and workshops of the area, some still with old hand painted logos and adverts. Each "sign" is made up from snippets of quotes, dates and plans of the original Rowton House, now the Paragon Hotel.
The Quotes are from george Orwell who wrote extensivly on the hard times of the poor and destitute and mentions a Rowton house in London in his book down and out in Paris and London.

"Serenity is impossible to a poor man in a cold country"

"How sweet the air does smell — even the air of a back-street in the suburbs — after the shut-in, subfaecal stench of the spike!"

' If you have no money, men won't care for you, women won't love you; won't, that is, care for you or love you the last little bit that matters."

Finally the large hand drawn portrait of the man himself, added over the top of the signs, a few Posca pens, a blister, paint and one achy arm and he's finished!

Found my proposal for the submission, nice arty speak so bunging that on here too:

"Local Heroes, 48sheets project
A Billboard to expose local forgotten history and a celebrate a predominant figure who invested in and took great personal interest in helping the less fortunate, including a now dwindling Irish working community in Digbeth.

This piece would celebrate the achievements of Lord Rowton, who in the 1890’s created the Rowton house scheme, including what is now the Paragon hotel in Digbeth, the first places to provide an affordable decent accommodation for poor, down and out workingmen.
Ideally this would be executed as a portrait and “found Fragments” of quotes and images reflecting Rowtons achievements and Digbeth of the time.
I would very much like to execute this piece as a live painting, although it could be achieved as a print.
I like the idea of a site specific piece, somewhere in Digbeth, ideally using an old billboard with layers of pealing posters, representing the pealing back of layers of history and creating a found background to the piece. Elements would be attached on found wood and small objects from around Digbeth, making place as important as the social history. These would all be painted and weathered as part of the portrait, adding a sense of time, history and curiosity."

Also realised i swiped a few of the installation photos on here so big image credit to Theodora Pangos!