dot-art and artist Joe Venning were commissioned by Bruntwood to design and produce a unique piece of art which would create a focal point in the newly refurbished reception of The Plaza in St Pauls Square, off Old Hall Street in Liverpool city centre. This large and striking work, entitled “Circling Around” combines a number of different techniques, elements and materials. Here the artist tells us more about what each section represents and adds to the whole.
“The Contemporary Sixties/ Biophilic aesthetic of The Plaza’s new interior scheme was the jumping off point for this work. Conceptually this piece draws on the similarities between the ideas that define the sixties, when the Plaza was built, and the present day. The counterculture hippy movement, with it’s interest in nature, eastern culture and unity has strong echoes in today’s environmental concerns, mindfulness practices and issues surrounding inclusiveness and diversity.
The scientific and technological ambition of the sixties, most dramatically demonstrated by the moon landings, are also echoed today in the advances in artificial intelligence and the digital age. This period was also when we started to become more aware of climate change and its dangers, as the impact of carbon dioxide and pollution more widely was scientifically proven.
Stylistically I have combined realism, 1960’s Pop Art and its contemporary offspring Street Art. I thought Peter Blake, with his strong connections to Liverpool (Sgt Peppers album cover) might be a fitting influence. I have taken his visually complex collage-paintings and given them a contemporary, 3D, Biophilic twist, incorporating natural and unusual materials such as Moon rock, foliage, a butterfly, twinkling lights and retro 1960s objects.
I have also included sections that are painted in a high contrast Warhol / Banksy style, stencilled and painted directly on the tiled wall behind the more realist paintings on canvas, wood and mirrors.
I have borrowed the repeated circular motif from the windows of the new interior scheme and used it to tie the work in with the surrounding space.”
“As you can see there is a large circular image at the centre of the installation. This is painted on wood, with a wooden frame that matches the circles in the windows of the renovated building design. This contains a surreal, collage-like painting of an astronaut, referencing the moon landings and the space race. The astronauts cable is twisted into a heart shape as a subtle nod to the sixties ‘Peace and Love’ idea.
Beneath the space image is water with an erupting volcano at the bottom so the image combines land, sea, sky and points to the strain we are putting the planet.
The water section is coated with multiple layers of (non toxic/ eco friendly) resin. This gives the water a super smooth, glossy, dramatic, reflective look and the fish and details of the water are painted within the layers, giving them a three dimensional look.”
“Above the main circular image is the small piece of Lunar Meteorite. This is set into a circular piece of clear resin, so it appears to hover in space, and then framed in a circular frame. This Piece Of Meteorite Comes From The NWA 7959 Meteorite which was discovered in 2013 in north west Africa. This has been classified as a lunar meteorite by the meteoritical society and details of its composition can be found on their website. On either side are depictions of the moons (taken from a phases of the moon illustration) directly on the tiled wall, in the black and white Banksy style.”
“On the left (West) side of the installation I have included an original John Lennon and Yoko Ono ‘Give peace a chance‘ badge also set into resin. This obviously has a strong link with the Liverpool of the 60s. Beneath it is a 1960s compass in resin and beneath that I have included an image of The Plaza itself taken from Google Earth. There is also a Flower to reference the ‘Flower Power’ movement and tie in with the Biophilic design, a piece of Fools gold and a 4 leaf clover set in resin and framed too. I thought these objects and their luck/ bad luck implications contrast each other nicely!”
“Around these pieces are details painted directly on the wall, such as sections of chaos theory diagrams, a Liver bird and a detail from the drum on the Sgt Peppers album cover. Above these is a circular, realist painting of a sunset. Next to that, painted directly on the wall, is a polar bear. This has been painted in a realist style in a way that it appears to be behind the wall. I think these two images work well together as a nod to global warming.”
“On the right (eastern) side of the installation I have included Buddhist and Islamic decorative patterns, a traditional Chinese fish illustration and a flying origami bird to give the piece a multi-cultural, non-western element and international feel. There is also a resin set butterfly and Japanese Acer leaf to add to natural elements included and subtly reference another kind of leaf that was particularly popular in the 60’s! There is also a circular realist painting of a sunrise through leaves to add to the eastern feel and keep the overall image positive, hopeful and natural.”