One of the great things about being a theatre occupying factory space is that you can save masses of money by leaving things pretty bleak and claiming this bleakness as ‘post-industrial chic’. As those of you who have visited us will know we’ve been enthusiastically living ‘post-industrial chic’ for years and this approach has suited us well, but recently a problem has emerged.
We rent our space from A E Harris and Co (Birmingham) Ltd & Chapman Driver Seating, they make stuff out of metal (including seats for drivers). As a consequence of their making stuff out of metal their aesthetic is less ‘post-industrial’ and more ‘current-industrial’, which means they’ve recently had all their bits of the factory painted with a natty blue and white theme. Now the main doors to our venue no longer look chic they look chit.
So the time came to get the doors painted and after Craig had stripped off the old paintwork, primed the wood and reinforced the insides we put the call out for artists who would decorate the door for us.
As a company that normally receives commissions it was a treat to be able to offer a commission to other people and we were really delighted and grateful to receive ‘over fifty’ submissions (52 – thank you all). This ushered in the nightmare that comes of being a commissioner, we had to reject 51 applicants. Generally speaking the pitches fell into three board categories: graphic design-ish, graffiti-ish and painting-ish. We corralled our favourites in each category, we decided which categories we were most interested in commissioning from, we got to a shortlist of 3, met these artist, talked through their ideas and despite loving loads of the 52 possibilities we were all very happy with our final choice.
Louise Byng and Laurie Ramsell have been sheltering under a ratty tarpaulin in the pissing rain transferring their design from A4 to door size. It’s looking really good already as I write this with three days to go before the unveiling.
We liked the boldness and wit of their design, which references that doors are the entrance to a theatre space in playful way. They use the structure of the door in their design and allow for the fact that often half the door is propped open.
When we set out on this process I couldn’t have imagined that we would have ended up with anything like this, but now this is it it feels right, which must be one of the joys of commissioning art.
We’d like to thank Louise and Laurie for their generosity of spirit, skill and enthusiasm. We wish them huge success in their careers; we hope that they get picked up by influential agents; that their work comes to be hung in prestigious galleries around the world, that it becomes sought after and sold for astronomical sums (particularly the earlier ‘Paint on industrial door’ works).