Earlier this year I was at the Piece Hall in Halifax, a beautiful venue I’ve had the joy of working in previously, and it was lovely to be back. This time I was commissioned to create a huge floor mural for the Hall’s post-lockdown relaunch. This was to be a temporary mural and it presented some unique challenges. Those of you who remember my post about Box on the Docks will remember my previous battle with the weather. In Halifax, the weather came back for round two and this time it was personal!
On day one we arrived in beautiful sunshine to prepare the ground for my fabulous floral centrepiece. I love turning big spaces into colourful places and for this one think less concrete jungle, more Yorkshire stone garden! It was a beautiful surface to paint on and I spent time mapping out the paint using chalk. As I’ve said before, I plan out my design but then respond to the space when I arrive – part of the fun is adapting to the environment and watching the work develop in ways I hadn’t expected. I would have happily painted until it was dark but my team called for a halt and we headed home. Fortunately progress was good and I was pleased with the day’s work.
On day two we returned under bright skies but it had been snowing and raining overnight, which washed away half the design! A temporary mural is using temporary paint so it is designed to wash away, but only after installation day! This meant reinstalling and adjusting the design as the ‘Artist versus Weather’ war waged on in the afternoon’s snow. We soldiered on with lots of tarp ready to protect the paint, rushing to cover it whenever the rain or snow started. If there’s a smattering of surface water then the tarp will protect what’s underneath, as long as you allow any moisture underneath to evaporate, but too much water turns it into a giant eraser! Sometimes this calls for turning a river of colour into a swirly pattern, using the skill of an artist to respond!
After another nail-biting night, there was a further snowstorm leaving sheets of ice on top of the tarp and unfortunately not everything survived. Water had pooled, paint had bled and smudged everywhere, despite our careful tarp removal operation, and we made the decision made to pressure wash away the remains. However, the staff at the hall loved the mural and couldn’t bear to wash it away! Instead of thinking of a piece, we decided to get everyone involved and help with the mural and turned it from a washout to a workshop! Everyone loved it! In the end the client was happy, the artist was happy and the audience was happy as we all got to be part of a brilliant public engagement workshop – talk about adapting to the environment!
See you next time for more weather wars!
Love, Vee xx