adplus-dvertising
Connect with us

Art

Arsenal’s new stadium artwork: What it looks like, how they did it and why

Published

 on

It is just as well that Arsenal are not afraid of big ideas. A year ago, they took the decision that the Emirates Stadium needed redecoration. The original artwork installed in the early years of the stadium’s life was faded, sun-damaged, and very much of its time.

It did not take the club long to establish that a touch-up or exact replacement was not what they wanted. So, what should they do with a blank canvas that is almost the size of the pitch? 

They arrived at their answer via an elaborate and meandering wander through the world of art, design and supporter consultation. An installation of eight images on the concrete cores that hold the stadium together restyles the Emirates into a vast outdoor gallery. The artwork showcases different concepts, different artists and different motifs, and the result aims to be visually striking while also bringing together what Arsenal means. 

Like any art collection, viewers will be drawn more to some images than others. Critics will have their opinions. Fans will respond in all sorts of ways to what they see. Art is subjective, football is emotional — at times, those involved in the project spent so much time mulling over the tiny details of something so substantial it is surprising if they managed to sleep at night. For a football club to go down the art road in such a large-scale context is extremely ambitious. Most stadiums around the world are notable for their architecture. Highbury certainly was. The Emirates will now be known for its art. 

300x250x1

The club put heart and soul into creating something to make the Emirates feel special. The previous design linked 32 legends of the past around the stadium, arm in arm. The new design had scope to include so much more. But where to start? Where to stop? How to get wherever they were trying to go with this? In the words of chief executive Vinai Venkatesham, “it became clear pretty quickly this was a massive undertaking”. 

The brief boiled down to Arsenal values and a sense of togetherness. Venkatesham explains what they hoped to achieve: “How do we bring alive all the bits of Arsenal? Across the new art, we’ve got 150 supporters’ groups flags, over 700 fans, Arsenal men, Arsenal women, the Academy, Highbury and two of the greatest achievements the club has ever had. It’s all there. It feels like all the different strands of what we stand for in 2023. Togetherness is how I would summarise it.”

Fundamental to this operation was consultation. The whole thing more or less started from listening to observations that came out of meetings with fans, many of whom were struck on the return to football after the pandemic closure that the stadium was not looking its best. Venkatesham picks up the story. 

“The starting point was our fans. We asked for input about improving the spectator experience. The cores, as we call them — the eight blocks outside the stadium — were very high up on the list. People felt not only did they look tired and battered after having been up there for so long, but they felt that in 2023, they didn’t represent what the club is today.

“So we came away wanting to replace them with something completely new. It is going to transform what the stadium looks like. That is what stimulated the project. We knew it would be high profile and there would be so many different opinions, so we effectively started running the most involved consultation we’ve ever run. There were more than 100 ex-players, supporters, people from the community, ex-players’ families and Arsenal staff involved. They were all talking about what Arsenal meant to them.”

The club engaged with a group of representatives from all aspects of the fanbase. There were three key gatherings at different stages during the process — the first at a local pub, The Tollington, and then they moved into the Diamond Club, the most refined meeting space inside The Emirates, to show the work in progress and gather feedback. 

It was obvious how passionate those in the process were about what was represented, and Arsenal attempted to distil those diverse viewpoints into the main themes for the artists to creatively interpret. There was plenty of back and forth.

Arsenal commissioned three artists and other specialists, all of whom are either supporters or neighbours of the club in Islington. Reuben Dangoor had previously worked with the club on Adidas projects. “I’m a lifelong Gooner so it’s all a bit surreal,” he says. Jeremy Deller is a conceptual artist who won the Turner Prize in 2004, the same year Arsenal completed their unbeaten league campaign. David Rudnick is a typographer who was keen to work on new fonts for the club. 

In the spirit of art being subjective, I will start with a personal favourite. We All Follow The Arsenal is a collage of supporters’ clubs, featuring over 150 official groups from all over the world. Ed Hall, a craftsman who hand makes banners and flags, spent hours meticulously stitching together the designs onto flags to be blown up to scale to create the effect of billowing flags. He pricked his finger when working on this masterpiece — blood, sweat and tears right there in the symbolism of it all. 

We All Follow The Arsenal by Jeremy Deller

Moving from something modern to something historic (and another emotive favourite), the most beautiful image is Remember Who You Are, a painting of Highbury that bonds Arsenal’s art deco East Stand, listed as a building of rich architectural value, onto their current home.

It is a spectacular way to pay homage to the memories of yesteryear and includes some excellent detail, such as the progression of the club’s top scorer, from Cliff Bastin, via Ian Wright, to Thierry Henry, with their goal totals etched in roman numerals, and the famous back four in position appealing for offside. This is the only panel where the central badge or sponsor that punctuates each core has been taken down so as not to detract from the old-fashioned style of Highbury in all its glory.

Remember Who You Are by Reuben Dangoor

Victoria Concordia Crescit, referencing the club motto, has the feel of a classical painting replete with club legends around two giant cannons. It is supposed to feel dramatic, although a mini Gunnersaurus tied up in yellow ribbons brings a touch of levity. Martin Keown wears a headband, David Seaman has his ponytail, and the research that went into establishing the exact hairline and hair colour for George Male, one of the legends of the 1930s, required considerable resilience by club historians. 

Victoria Concordia Crescit by Reuben Dangoor

Invincible is another Dangoor work, recognising the singular achievements of Arsenal’s 2003-04 unbeaten Premier League champions and the 2007 winners of the UEFA Women’s Cup — the only British team to lift what is now the Women’s Champions League. Arsene Wenger and Vic Akers, the managers of the respective teams, are very much involved in these pieces. 

Invincible by Reuben Dangoor

There are two more simple pieces of graphic design by Deller. Eighteen Eighty-Six is based on the year Arsenal were established and makes use of a new theme Arsenal are trying to include in their thinking — always forward. 

1886 by Jeremy Deller

Come To See The Arsenal will be positioned to be seen from the trains that come from outside the capital into King’s Cross on the main line that passes by the stadium. 

Come To See The Arsenal by Jeremy Deller

Found A Place Where We Belong (the title is a quote from Dennis Bergkamp) is a mosaic of a crowd scene depicting more than 700 supporters. Some are famous or indeed infamous for their dedication (Maria Petri, for example). Some are well-known, such as Nick Hornby. Some are historic, some current. There are club staff and supporters who have made a positive contribution to the local community. It took Dangoor 45 minutes to hand-paint each of the supporters — it is tremendously detailed, and not quite finished, but will be worth waiting for.

Future Brilliance was created to reflect the production line of homegrown players, something the club has leaned upon since the first double in 1971 and continues to look to today, in the figures of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, and hopefully tomorrow, in the shape of Ethan Nwaneri who was given a debut this season at the age of 15.

It shows young players going into the academy as children and coming out as legends of the club. The underlying message nods to a Wenger quote that Mikel Arteta had put up at the entrance to London Colney: “Here you have the opportunity to get out the greatness that is in each of you.” Jack Wilshere, who is the most recent player depicted, summed up how it feels for many more than the original 32 players to adorn the stadium. “To be part of the artwork is really humbling and a big honour,” he says. 

Future Brilliance by Reuben Dangoor

Perhaps the most sensitive aspect of the whole consultation process was the question of whether or not to use current players. In the end, it was decided that those still playing were still writing their stories at the club and it was premature to include them. 

A line had to be drawn somewhere. What if Arteta and his team win something in the not-too-distant future? Could they be added? The answer is not now. This art has been curated as an expression of the club more generally, not what it might be or do in time to come. Who knows what Arsenal will look like when these images are weathered and another refurbishment is commissioned in a decade or so? 

There is a lot there across the collection. “What somebody thinks is a 9/10, somebody else will think is a 3/10,” Venkatesham says. “The good news is there are eight of them. So there is something for everyone. I’m probably not supposed to have one but my favourite is Highbury (Remember Who You Are) — that facade of the East Stand is so beautiful and I love that the longer you stare at it you see little detail that you miss on the first viewing. My favourite bit is the back four on the adjacent windows with their arms in the air. I’m looking forward to people noticing, standing under there and spending time discovering all those details.” 

Going back to the theme of togetherness, Venkatesham hopes this will be another step in the tightening of relationships between the club and the fanbase, which has been a clear goal in recent years. 

“I’m hoping it’s also another good example of the work we’re all trying to do around strengthening that connection,” he says. “The recent atmosphere is the result of lots of things, including the work with fan groups such as Red Action, Ashburton Army, AST, AISA.

The Amazon documentary is another good example of opening the club up a little bit more. We have the Arsenal advisory board that Tim Lewis and Josh Kroenke sit on. We are really trying to make a step forward in how we connect with our fans and put them right at the heart of the big decisions we make. We have ended up with something designed for the Arsenal family by the Arsenal family.”

The rollout of new art begins soon (weather permitting, as high winds will make work difficult during the winter) and with luck, the first piece, Victoria Concordia Crescit, should be in place before Arsenal’s next home game against Manchester United. Then the rest will follow over several weeks. 

Before long, visitors to the Emirates will have a lot to look at on and off the pitch. 

(Photos: Arsenal)

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Art

Hermès Wins MetaBirkins Lawsuit, With Jurors Deciding NFTs Aren’t Art – The New York Times

Published

 on


[unable to retrieve full-text content]

Hermès Wins MetaBirkins Lawsuit, With Jurors Deciding NFTs Aren’t Art  The New York Times

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Art

Art Cashin says January upside surprises a lot of veteran traders, but he's skeptical of the rally – CNBC

Published

 on


[unable to retrieve full-text content]

Art Cashin says January upside surprises a lot of veteran traders, but he’s skeptical of the rally  CNBC

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Art

The Guardian view on arts education: a creativity crisis – The Guardian

Published

 on


[unable to retrieve full-text content]

The Guardian view on arts education: a creativity crisis  The Guardian

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending