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BARBICAN LIFE


“The idea of something that reflected the whole variety of art forms that happen here at the Barbican seemed an obvious approach and we thought of a procession around the pillar. But making it an Ornithology was entirely Quentin’s idea.” Quentin adds, “I knew I wanted to represent something of the diversity of art activities in the Barbican, and I considered doing a set of drawings of real people. In the end I resuscitated these birds-as-people from an earlier book. The advantage, I think, of their all belonging to the same avian group gives a sort of unity to the variety of it, and allows me not to focus on individual artists at the expense of others. You can also, something necessary in a room of that size, look at the figures quite closely – it’s partly a mural and partly an illustrated pillar.” Of course there were technical difficulties associated with the curved surface on which Quentin had to work. At first he thought of painting the pillar or hanging a banner round it like a curtain, but


what seemed the ideal solution came from the designer, Lexi Burgess, who has worked with Quentin on many of his projects and installations. Lexi is a member of what Nick Kenyon calls the Barbican campus; he is the son of Christian Burgess of the Guildhall School. Quentin explains Lexi’s solution.


“The drawings are digitally printed on what is in effect a very superior form of washable wallpaper and the effect, I hope, is that the drawings are printed on the pillar. I was also


pleased with the way that the figures move round the pillar, which gives this a special quality as a mural work, and that they don’t seem too insistent. But of course the most important thing for me is that Nick should like them, because he has to see them every day.” At the unveiling party Nick’s enthusiasm for the work was obvious and his guests responded very positively too, but he comments, “It’s interesting to see which people notice it’s there in the office and which don’t!” Given that he is unlikely to want a procession of people coming to his office to admire the work, it would be good to use the images more widely in the Barbican. Nick would like to discuss rolling it out further, perhaps as individual cards and marketing images, or maybe more imaginatively on the outside of the building to make it more welcoming in the period around the Olympics. “But,” he says, “ If you have any bright ideas on how to achieve this he would be pleased to hear from you. That would require serious sponsorship!”


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