Selby College Mural

By Sarah Bates

I’ve always wanted to do a graffiti inspired mural, it’s been deep in the back of my mind for years. A graffiti artists called Swoon in America really inspired me – how she uses paper cut outs as her medium and puts these directly onto distressed backgrounds. The degrading of the paper adds to this effect where the image becomes weathered over time.

Urban Outfitters in York (where Habitat used to be -sniff sniff!) commissioned 2 artists from Germany to design and install a similar influenced mural on the back wall using paper cut outs. While being inspired and giddy in the shop, I was asked to leave because I was getting a little over zealous with the camera! Having explained who I was and why I was interested in the image they didn’t thankfully confiscate my camera! However, this really prompted me to think of possible ways to include this technique into a workshop when teaching at college.

So, with a few like minded colleagues we set a competition for our 1st year Art & Design students to come up with a maximum of 6 images based on URBAN : JUNGLE : HUMAN : ANIMAL. Some of the images were brilliant and the students had really put a lot of effort into their outcomes. For the effect we wanted one image would not work alone and so I put together a collaborative digital illustration with the help of our fine art lecturer Elaine Whitehead, [who has just completed her Masters – how brilliant is that?].

I knew it was going to be tricky to make it work but we made a plan and as you all know – a failure to plan is a plan for failure! So we set tasks all week and the students were up for it!

Monday’s tasks were to paint the wall and draw out and begin cutting the image. The image was projected onto a wall, students then took turns to trace the image and the arduous task of scalpelling out every little mark, while other students had great fun with Paul and the paint; brushes, hands and feet were all used to create visually exciting marks covering the whole wall.

On Tuesday, with Sam’s help students then used various transfer techniques to distress the wall adding layers of images and type, which added depth to the image. The paper cut out image was then put up, with great care, great wall papering technique and awesome finger rubbing – a messy and sticky job but very rewarding.

The pure energy, hard work and dedication that has gone into producing this image from the students is truly inspiring and a joy to see! Let’s hope people are impressed on the Selby College Open Morning on Saturday 20th October!