huttonphotography.co.uk made the superb video below recording the project process.
This three month residency included making twenty large preparatory drawings outside, investigating the campus architecture. Students and staff watched me drawing, some joined in, asked questions and saw the project evolve.
We used focus groups to gather opinions and I worked with groups of art students exploring the campus while making quick sketches that they developed into larger oil paintings.
A photo competition, encouraged everyone to join in with ideas about the college and selected entries were exhibited alongside my drawings in the Atrium Gallery at the inaugural opening.
Wycliffians were excited and fascinated watching the mural develop, especially during the last three weeks.
Making The Wycliffe Mural
“Just like you students, there’s been so much for me to learn while working on our mural as Artist In Residence at Wycliffe College.
I hope watching this project evolve has been quietly nurturing your potential as much as it has mine, not just by watching how drawings can take shape outside ‘in the field’ but equally by observing the process of creative imagination, of turning drawings into a huge picture and watching the mural developing.
I avoided the trap of making a design for the mural. Instead I used the drawings to develop ideas openly, then let a language develop naturally on the wall, to coax this huge picture into being in an unexpected way, to surprise myself! For example, I never envisaged making the chapel spire reach 25 feet upside down until I was doing it, responding to the height and reach of the wall space.
I hope this ‘openness’ shows in the mistakes and necessarily unfinished parts that make you look and think, how, what if, why, to inspire further creativity and excitement.
I’ve scared myself because I didn’t realise, until the challenge unfolded, how much this would take to make it happen and would like to thank all those involved in this collaboration.
It has required a huge amount of practical thinking and common sense, but common sense is the enemy of creativity! – Yes, I want the mural to give you pleasure and delight in your surroundings, but also to scramble your mind and challenge your attitude towards seeing and understanding things. I’d rather try this and fail than provide you with just another pretty picture, because paintings aren’t made to go nicely with your furniture, they are tools for communication, inspiration and development, driving culture and civilisation forward.
In our mural, the everyday familiar things, like buildings and landscape, can become an extraordinary confusion of unfamiliar things, by trying to develop a precise visual language with rules that can be twisted or disrupted and enable me to take risks into the unknown.
The idea that landscape painting or other genres of painting are ‘dead’ is ludicrous! – You just have to try and find a new way of looking at them.
Does anyone have another large wall to open my mind with more challenges and further questions?”