Arty attempts to spruce up building work can often be a bit cringeworthy in the UK but over on the other side of the pond they do it bigger and better (see also burgers and arguing in public).
New York studio Dark Igloo have just created a 450ft illustrated mural for Google’s headquarters in Chelsea, Manhattan, featuring significant moments and notable figures who have contributed to the neighbourhood’s rich, cultural history. It’s now been printed on vinyl and affixed to the scaffolding set up while inspectors carry out routine checks.
“A friend of ours at Google saw the scaffolding as a canvas and opportunity to show some love to their new home,” Dark Igloo’s Dave Franseze told us. “They reached out to us looking for piece about Chelsea. We never had to look much farther than the area’s history for inspiration and I think that’s ideal – when a project is interesting purely on its own merit.
“Every new bit we’d discover would link another artist or author we loved back to this place. All we really had to do was edit down that list.”
But did the fantastic source material not bring its own pressures, seeing that Chelsea has links with a litany of obsessed-over cultural figures?
“Totally! The whole mural could’ve been dedicated just to The Hotel Chelsea given all the artists that’ve called that place home. You see all the names and works of art that’ve been created there or just a few blocks away – 2001: A Space Odyssey, On The Road – and paying homage to these things as honestly as possible was definitely important to us.”
It only took a week for Dave and his team to create the illustration although some of the more ambitious ideas were felled by practicalities.
“The hardest bit was that – for a time – there were going to be characters and bits of artwork coming down from the mural and onto the scaffolding and street. Managing what those would be and how to make them work with the mural rather than against it was a challenge.”
And of all the 450ft (or 137 metres) can Dave pick a favourite bit or is that unfair (like asking a parent to pick their favourite child)?
“I like the art heist, when the burglar cuts the telephone line and jumps out the window. I miss the good ol’ days when people could just jump out the window to make a clean getaway.”
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