“Dundee Windows is part of the City Centre Recovery activity from Dundee City Council, re-animating the city centre and welcoming people back to our streets.” I am delighted to one of six artists chosen to “create exciting artworks in vacant windows in the city centre.” The other artists are: Tracey Stewart, Sarah Chacko, Agency of None, Pamela Scott and Macario De Los Rios. (Quotes from Dundee City Council article)
As we live in Sunny Dundee I wanted to bring some of our bright sunny joy to an unloved window that will continue past summer and into our less sunny months.
The giant colourful wooden painted butterfly has tones of Marrs Green* at its centre, with rich thistle and fushia pinks and purples to contrast. There are glittering gold mirrors that dot around the design, catching the light as people walk past and in turn their attention. It is positioned in the window so that you can stand in front of it, pretend that you have beautiful wings and convince a friend to take that insta worthy snap of you as a gorgeous butterfly!
The butterfly represents Dundee’s capacity and willingness to adapt and change. It also represents the abundant wildlife that we have in our very green little city. We have stunning parks that are open to all and many that encourage biodiversity too, like Magdelen Green. The instantly recognisable bandstand is the link to one of Dundee’s oldest parks and a city icon.
The flowers, as well as nodding to all of the above, are from Riley’s plaque that I designed for Discovery Walk on Slessor Gardens. He was responsible for inventing anti-histamines, allowing us to enjoy our city parks without sneezing! Riley was also voted onto the walk by Dundee’s school children, who thought he was a bit of a hero too.
The sunny backdrop and the wooden sign hang as the ‘title’ of my window encouraging the #sunnydundee. Also linking into the bright retro style sunshine painted onto a hanging fabric backdrop. The sunbeams of the backdrop echoe the sunbeams that make up the gardens along Perth Road, which also house a mini Bandstand.
[ * Marrs Green – the world’s favourite colour and also a Dundee colour linking to the River Tay, thanks to Annie Marrs of our UNESCO Dundee City of Design team. It is also the colour of my studio walls and a regular feature in my work.]
Here is my original submission. The main part of the brief was to create a window display that was interactive, Dundee themed, bright and colourful. It was tricky to design as at this point we had no idea how big, or what shape our windows were going to be, so it was important to make it a design that could be flexible in how it could be realised. Turns out I had to adapt mine quite significantly in terms of length (it’s almost 9m long and over 3m high), which meant making larger/ longer display pieces. I also had to get my head around working with having two splits in the window – so the solution was bigger butterfly wings incorporating the pillar as the body rather than trying to squeeze in a smaller piece between two posts. In order for the display to be robust enough to last several months in the window without fixtures (were not being able to use fixtures to hang work, which was a part of my original design) I decided to create everything as painted wood cuts rather than the originally planned mix of illustration on paper, wood cut and paint on window so it could be adapted to using props for pieces and the use of scaffold poles to hang backdrop fabric and sign (supplied and installed by the wonderful Sweet Venues). This was all with a pretty tight turnaround time, as these types of projects often are. All things considered I think it worked out well, I’m really happy with the final window installation and really loving watching people interact with it.
The Dundee Windows Map
Behind the scenes fun times….
Huge thanks to everyone who helped me create my window: Louise Forbes (@louiseforbesdesign) for her woodcutting skills (where mine failed), AJ for his gold dot cutting out, installation help, looking after doggo and general awesomeness when I was pulling a string of late nights, Sweet Venues (@sweetvenues) for the scaffolding, Annie Marrs, Claire Dow and Ryan McLeod (@agencyofnone) for helping me hang the backdrop (absolutely not a one gal job!), Maggie Duncan (@onceuponawardrobe) for sewing the backdrop panels and studio neighbours Susan and Ronald (@1874works) for top tips on how not to saw off my hand or any other important limbs! 😅
Huge thanks too to Dundee City Council for this wonderful opportunity to showcase my work and help brighten up our cool wee city’s streets. ☀️ With an extra shout to Rebecca Rogers and Claire Dow from the city events team for organising it all!
Here is a wee bit more about Discovery Walk and Riley’s plaque, which is part of a walk of 15 illustrated bronze plaques celebrating the gifts Dundonians have given the world. I’m super proud to have designed these and would love you to visit them too in Slessor Gardens. For more information head to the timelapse (as with butterfly wings… I wouldn’t advise painting the wood before cutting – unless absolutely necessary! 😅 Discovery Walk page on here.