An artist based at UWIC’s Cardiff School of Art & Design (CSAD) has provided original works to be displayed at Europe’s biggest urban shopping centre.
Fine-art specialist Professor David Ferry was commissioned by retailer John Lewis to produce a collection for their flagship store at Westfield Stratford City.
Prof Ferry, who lives in Cardiff Bay, said: “John Lewis is a blue chip retailer and this store will have hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
“As a contemporary artist, I’m delighted that my work will be seen by an audience of this size.”
Westfield Stratford City opened on the 12th of September, and it is estimated that for around 70% of Olympics visitors, Westfield will be the gateway to the games thanks to its public transport links.
The John Lewis store will employ around 750 and will showcase more than 350,000 products across the fashion, beauty, home, electricals and technology sectors. It features specially-selected and unique paintings and installations, including Prof Ferry’s Stratford Series.
These five panels were specially commissioned by John Lewis, specifically for the new store.
Prof Ferry, head of printmaking and photomedia at CSAD, said: “Each panel represents aspects of the rich and varied East End.
“Subjects range from the red London bus to the Victorian Theatre Royal Stratford East, and from the colour and texture of famous street markets such as Petticoat Lane to the iconic topography of the Thames.
“The remarkable regeneration of the area, through the many new building projects and schemes, is also a feature.”
Once awarded the commission, he travelled to the East End by train and spent a day walking around the area, taking in the shopping centre centre site, the Olympics complex and the new Stratford International rail station.
Prof Ferry, who joined CSAD in 2008, said: “Getting there by train was the obvious way to do it because many thousands of visitors will arrive there by such means in the years to come. I was determined to experience what they’ll experience.”
The panels are photomontages with stenciled spray paint on paper, mounted on board and box framed. They’re a kind of cross between printmaking, tapestry and photomontage. Parts are heavily varnished and elements have a feel similar to Delft tiles.
Prof Ferry said: “They’re derived from viewpoints at street level and as if from a helicopter. The idea was to capture something of the area’s soul and I hope I’ve managed to achieve that.”
The panels each measure 65 x 55cm and are box framed. The John Lewis business is known as an important collector of contemporary artwork and the Stratford Series is expected to form a part of its national collection.
Prof Ferry was born in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1957 and learnt much about the East End cultural and artistic scenes when he studied art in London at the Camberwell and Slade schools in the 1970s and 1980s.
The John Lewis commission builds on his impressive record of work for enterprise. He has previously produced pieces for businesses such as GEC, Marconi and Nuclear Electric for whom he spent time on site during the construction of East Anglia’s Sizewell B plant.
Other clients have included the British Heart Foundation.
The chance to pitch for the John Lewis contract came through his agent Celia Wickham, of Gloucestershire-based Contemporary Art Holdings.