Thursday, 26 July 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius: London Olympics 2012

The London Olympics 2012, (officially the games of the XXX Olympiad), begin in this beautiful city at the end of this week on the 27th July. I was asked to create a piece of artwork to commemorate this occasion but didn't feel particularly, inspired especially when I look at the official pieces created by well known artists that were commissioned by the Olympic committee.

I was at the Rowley Gallery last week however, and was given a copy of one of the limited edition Ordnance Survey maps of the Olympic Park over in Stratford and asked to see what I could come up with by Chris, one of the directors of the gallery. The map was created in conjunction with the Institute of Civil Engineers and as far as I understand only made available to the Institute of Civil Engineers and schools.The map charts the clean up and development of the area and construction of the various sports arenas from 2001 to the present day.

I love a good map especially the older ones where the paper quality is thicker and the graphics have a nicer quality than modern maps. I am usually loathe to cut into the vintage maps but didn't really have any such qualms about cutting into the 'Engineering the Olympic Park' map. Chris had previously supplied me with a beautiful old Michelin map and asked me to create one of my 'Map of the Heart' series which had a connection to the history of the Rowley Gallery (see Rowley Gallery blog).

My inspiration for Citius, Altius, Fortius (the official Olympic motto meaning Faster, Higher, Stronger), was the athletes arriving in London last week and also the grey skies and unusually heavy amount of rain we have been experiencing in the UK this summer. Most of the map is grey and a little drab which is an apt reflection of the wet weather we have endured. The piece is basically a metaphor for the arrival of the athletes bringing with them some much needed colour to a grey, wet, London. Like certain species of butterfly they descend on the capital (and UK), for a season, (two weeks in this case), delight us with their prescence, prowess, and beautiful bodies, before fluttering off and migrating back to their usual climes and habitats when the Games are over.

Creating Citius, Altius, Fortius, was a slight departure from my usual method of working as I drew and cut the butterflies with a scalpel rather than my usual scissors. I found this quite labour intensive, and hard on the fingers, but an enjoyable process nonetheless.

I'd like to thank Chris for providing the inspiration for the Citius, Altius, Fortius, and for allowing me to slice into his map. You can view it now along with other Olympic themed artworks at the Rowley Gallery 115 Kensington Church Street, London W8.  

Monday, 23 July 2012


This is a true story posted by Chris Hamer of the Rowley Gallery, on their 'Frames of Reference' blog.

One day a man from over the hills came into the shop to buy a greeting card. He was a graceless man of few words though he did say the card was for his sick mother, but the words seemed to stumble over his tongue as he spoke. He was a large, lumbering, oaf of a man yet he was very quick to choose a card, and he paid for it with a crisp, new £50 note.
The humble shopkeeper took the payment from his calloused hand and felt a shiver in her bones, but she completed the transaction and gave the man his change. When she later tried to deposit the note at her bank the cashier refused to accept it, saying it was a fake and not worth the paper it was printed on. The shopkeeper was outraged and determined to increase the value of her payment. She went to see the Scissor Wizard whose dexterous hands transformed the counterfeit note into a trio of perfect butterflies, increasing its value threefold. His quick fingers animated the creatures and they flew into the welcoming hands of the shopkeeper. She held them gently as she carried them home. Her friend the frame-maker offered to build them a protective shelter but she declined, preferring them to be unconfined and free to fly and flutter-by. She keeps them now by her bedside so that each night as she sleeps they circle and spin around her head tying knots in the air to protect her from nightmares.

She dreams peacefully of winning the National Lottery, EuroMillions and Thunderball, little knowing that these are the names of her butterflies and she is already rich beyond her dreams.

Sunday, 8 July 2012