As I am typing this blog, the #citiesofhope convention has started and there are scissor lifts and scaffolding dotted around the Northern Quarter in Manchester. Internationally renowned and local artists are adorning walls with some stunning artworks but, as the name implies, this goes beyond works of art.
#citiesofhope is designed to amplify the messages of 9 leading street artists from across the globe. These artists are producing inspirational murals on a cause that resonates with their values. These 9 murals will form a street gallery of hope across the Northern Quarter, helping to amplify the values of the people of our city.
Each mural is matched to a grass roots organization, social justice agencies that operate in the city and the Cities of Hope organization will champion and raise awareness of these organisations through the convention. Through the project it is estimated that a minimum of £10,000 will be raised for each organization as well as raising awareness of their causes to millions across the globe.
Although I was aware of the project, it was only recently that I was approached by the organisers (#Citiesofhope is a venture developed by Vestige in partnership with Manchester Creative Studio) about the possibility of some reportage and urban sketching of key murals in the context of the surrounding cityscape. Now this is right up my street! As an urban sketcher with a keen interest in reportage, this type of project is an absolute privilege and delight to be involved with. My work has only just started and I will be using pen, ink and watercolour to produce drawings of each of the walls in the context of their surroundings. I will also be recording ongoing activities in a concertina sketchbook. One key aspect of the walls is that they form an outdoor gallery such that people can experience art in the street without going into a gallery building. In this respect the organisers have been very clever and have selected walls strategically so that you will often be able to see more than one wall in a given view; much like you would in an art gallery. The other interesting aspect of the wall art is that you will experience them differently depending upon their size and location: some will be more dominant from a vehicle, large pieces on dominant gable end walls, whereas others are to be experienced close up and personal. Again, something somewhat paralleled in galleries. My compositions will reflect this difference in experience such that you will get a clear understanding of their context, reflecting the city of Manchester and specifically the Northern Quarter and its streetscape.
I certainly have my work cut out to complete the 10 pieces over the coming days/weeks, especially given the weather forecast but onwards and upwards! I will be writing more about my experiences on this exciting project including a piece about the process of my artwork production: A day in the life, so do watch this space!