an artwork created by Joy Gerrard commissioned by Tideway, 2017
About the work:
Building on an earlier hoarding commission produced in collaboration with City of London School, Joy Gerrard has returned to Blackfriars to develop a visual response to concepts of flow and mapping, the River Thames, and the engineering feat of the Thames Tideway Tunnel.
Working with collage and watercolour drawings, Gerrard has translated aerial views and technical maps of the area and tunnel installation into a bold and dynamic flowing design that is mindful of the ever-changing sky and the dominant squares and grids of the skyline. The work also responds to the street architecture and the horizontal lines created by the road along Victoria Embankment and the Blackfriars Underpass.
Not unlike port-holes, multiple circles populate the hoarding and work with a graphic language to abstract the engineering works and aerial views, while providing an effective contrast to the gridded verticals of the buildings and windows that can be seen above. Gerrard uses a playful, elegant palette of off-primary, pastel and neutral colours to great effect, creating a joyous rhythm across this vast area of vertical public space. The artwork can be appreciated by pedestrians and drivers, being bold enough to accommodate brief viewing, but rewards the longer look.
Feedback from passers-by includes: “It is wonderful that this is not just a building site!” … “It is pleasant to look at. Energising. It really makes me concentrate on the rest of the skyline.” … “Cheerful. Happy. Positive. Optimistic.”
Visitors to the artwork were particularly struck by artist’s research into the local infrastructure of tunnels, bridges, roadways and architecture that informed the piece, as well as the contributions from local schoolchildren.