Sunday, 27 May 2012

The People's Monarch (art)

Jubilee Fever is all around and, despite BF's best grumbles (he does do a good curmudgeonly), I'm getting a patriotic vibe as well. So off to the Towner I went in search of The People's Monarch, the art project commissioned by BBC South East and created by Helen Marshall.
Helen is a British artist who works in photography and film. Her previous projects have included the People's Poppy which was a mosaic of three and a half thousand images sent to her by British Legion members to publicise the valuable work of the Legion. The Poppy was displayed at London's Victoria Station in 2006. 
The Big Picture in 2008 was a record-breaking West Midlands Arts Council project of 112,896 images which became the world's largest photo mosaic. The final overall picture was of Arthur James Bunce, an amateur boxer photographed in 1926, whose portrait had been chosen from all of the images sent for the project.
Photo courtesy of @eccn_news
 The idea behind the People's Monarch project was to make up a mosaic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by using individual photographs sent in by the people of the South East of England. Within around six weeks, the project received five and a half thousand images ranging from official family portraits to informal snaps. Many people also told the stories behind their pictures and used the project as a chance to remember loved ones who have been lost.

The finished work is about the size of a double decker bus, taking up the whole of one wall of the Towner gallery, and is two side by side portraits of the Queen, one as she was in the 1950s and one as she is now. The overall picture shows how the Queen has changed over the years, but perhaps more interesting is also seeing how her people have changed both in their interests and in the technology used to record their lives.

In order to see it, visitors stroll along one side of the excellent 'This is Eastbourne, This is ...' and turn through a doorway, almost as if we were going into one of those little rooms they make up for video installations. This is a really clever device as I was thinking 'small' but then upon turning a corner, the mosaic is huge. Right there, totally covering a whole wall and it is breathtaking. I just stood grinning at it for about a minute (yep, that was me!) before going closer to see some of the individual images as well.

I'd recommend going to see the People's Monarch for yourself. Seeing the picture online does give a good idea of the work, but being dwarfed by the real thing is definitely worth the trip!

Towner Gallery, Sat 26th May to Sun 10th June.
Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 - 18:00.
Bank Holiday Mondays, 10:00 - 18:00.
Free admission.

No comments:

Post a Comment