I was delighted to be commissioned by the DCA
to create an exciting, vibrant window design that celebrates all the activity,
energy and sense of community found across all the programme areas of DCA. Bringing the inside activity and energy to
the outside of the building in the window areas.
The process involved research, development,
prototyping and good communication with the DCA team and fabricator to creating
the final designs on display.
I got a feel for the building by visiting all the different departments, taking lots of photos that I could refer to in the studio.
I found lots of geometric shapes within the building from the angular windows, step shaped walls, winged gallery roof plus so many circles, from the vintage projectors, printing press wheels, pegboard, retail display units, circular fairy lights fittings in Jute Café Bar to products in the shop.
I am naturally drawn to seeing pattern and texture and loved the overlaid wire racks in the print studio that created modern checks and the negative space of the screen-printing racks full of irregular stripes.
I found colour references from the bright cinema seats, pots of ink in the print studio, participant artwork on display in the creative learning store, bright colours of the Riso print samples to the more subtle cladding of the building.
To process ideas, I created sketches in pencil and ink then found visual connections. I created rough thumbnail sketches of designs in situ and mocked them up digitally to test various colour combinations and played with different juxtaposition of textures within shapes. I played with rotation and scale of the spots to capture the energy from the activity from inside of the building. I referred to the brief, discussed technical details with the local fabricator RobertSign and worked within design constraints so that the design would work practically. I selected and rejected elements to create coherent concepts for presenting to the DCA team.
The final designs are inspired from the bold geometric shapes with a playful feel using my signature style that retain the hand drawn feel of my linework and confidently uses a vibrant colour palette with clashing and contrasting of patterns bringing together all the activity of the building. I wanted the circles in the top windows to have a lot of movement the capture the energy of the building and connect to the shop windows below.
With my design work I like to capture a sense of place by creating bespoke designs that are meaningful and unique to the space and I hope these designs help people to connect to the DCA and remind past visitors to come inside and entice new visitors to see the variety of things it has to offer, from a trip to the cinema to taking part in a workshop to grabbing a bite to eat with friends or seeing the latest contemporary art exhibition.
Bringing joy to the streets of Stobswell in Dundee!
I worked with the UNESCO City of Design Dundee on the Spaces For People project to help realise the community’s idea of reclaiming two small sections of road at Eliza Street and Craigie Street to create people focused, friendly spaces full of colour and greenery as a temporary intervention funded by Sustrans Scotland.
I loved being part of the process from start to completion. Beginning with workshops run by the Service Design Academy using a co-design process, which gave a real insight into what the people who use and live in the area want and need, plus their issues and aspirations. The co-design process gave everyone a level playing field and participants were encouraged to gather user research to bring back a wider voice, they be imaginative on developing ideas. These ideas formed the design brief I worked on.
Research + Development
My role was to create a visual identity inspired by the feedback from the Service Design workshops to combat the greyness of the area, by brightening it up with more colour.
Stobswell is an area I know well from living there and attending Morgan Academy. I wanted to take a fresh look and went on a research mission with my camera to find shapes, colours and imagery linking into the initial conversations in the workshops about the jewels of Stobswell. I had interesting conversation with Friends of Baxter Park finding out about the plants and wildflowers and was shown the Cotoneaster tree which is the largest of its kind. Stobswell has many interesting pieces of public art so I watched Matthew Jarron’s video tours which gave me a good insight.
I found lots of circles and this later features in the seating and planter design.
From there I created print and pattern ideas in sketches, collage and digital art. I looked at many ways of applying colour to the area from trails, signage, gable ends, shop windows, shelters, awnings, seating/planters and through ground art. Not all ideas could go forward. (some pictures of things that didn’t go forward)
Concepts were shared for feedback. Ideas were refined and adapted to suit users. I defined colour palettes and did lots of maths to work out scale and repeat patterns.
I created 3D prototypes to help plan how the artwork would look in situ and placed designs in street plans to help visualise how the ground graphics would look.
Jewels of Stobswell
I think it’s important to capture a sense of place to find out what’s meaningful and unique about the area. It was identified Stobswell has a real mix of jewels – from historic details, green spaces, public art and tree lined streets. (I have a big long list of specific places that people love). I wanted to have a strong visual identity that worked in the Stobswell area using the same colour palette but felt there needed to be distinction between the 2 pocket parks of each individual site.
Eliza Street – Grand and Ornamental
The Eliza Street is an eclectic mix of imagery inspired by the jewels of Stobswell: details of the decorative ironwork on Morgan Academy rooftop, Baxter park railings, zig zags from the public art down on Princess Street, some leaves from Baxter Park and I managed to slip in a stripe or two!
The entrance from Albert Street was marked with a colourful crossing. To give it a homely feel I coordinated and clashed patterns on the seating and planters which complimented the range of surfaces of the birch, concrete and planting.
Craigie Street – Geometric and Playful
Craigie Street’s visual references came from the decorative brickwork gable end on the street, mixed with circular berries inspired from the Cotoneaster tree in Baxter Park. Colour and pattern were added to the seating and planters plus the circular ground graphics. Designs were initially developed to give a visual clue to physical distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By adding the ground graphics it gave an opportunity to have more colour and pattern into the space, plus is gave it a more playful feel.
Teamwork is dreamwork
I was only one part of this project. I loved being part of a core team with architectural designer Fíona Canavan who was a whizz on the technical side of maps, plans and research. UNESCO City of Design Dundee team, Annie Marrs and Poppy Jarrett who lead on the project and trusted my ability. Old School Fabrications who created the modular seating and planters and did all the logistics and practical element of the install.
So many people helped make this happen, from Angie who used her magic to convert files to be print ready, plus the team of local painters who brought the vision of colour and pattern to life.
Working with Tayside Contracts to add the colourful crossing and circle graphics along with Jamie from Geveko Marking. So many conversations were had to make this work from accessibility groups, Stobswell Form, Dundee City Council Transport and Planning team, Boomerang Project, Fire Brigade to name a few.
I met with local artist Gordy Craw who was working on painting shopfronts in Stobswell. We decided to use the same colour palette to give a stronger identity to the area. I added window decals with zig zags on The Stobbie Chipper and cotoneaster leaves and berries to the Boomerang Cafe. I love how Gordy’s artwork and my designs clash and bring a richer Stobswell pattern.
There were lots of ideas and not everything could be taken forward in this project as it is temporary. There is still work to be done in the area and Sustrans are working with the community to create permanent interventions. You can find out more about what they are doing here.
What’s it all about for me
For me this project encompases what I love doing: bringing joy through colour and pattern, creating meaningful artwork that captures a sense of place, connecting people to places and improving the world we live in.
It’s been great to see people using the space from stopping for a chat, sitting stroking the friendly cats, enjoying sunshine and eating lunch from the local takeaways.
Thanks for reading, you can find out more about projects I’ve worked on here.
It’s great to see places starting to open up here in Dundee, we are so lucky to have so many cultural buildings and events on our doorstep. Here is my round up of some of my favourite places if you fancy getting out and about and rediscovering the city again. *I’ve popped links to all the places so you can check for any bookings or restrictions.
15th August – It’s great that Dundee’s Farmers Market is set to start back up monthly, you can pick up local produce from breads, jams to veggies.
20th August – The McManus Galleries is favourite building of mine, stashed full of interesting objects. I love the Stephen Bird ceramic piece it’s worth stopping and having a closer look at it. The David Batchelor sculpture brings a smile to my face with the brightly coloured bottles too. It’s great to see my Dundee Delights illustrated products available to buy again from their shop.
27th August – V&A Dundee I’m so looking forward to seeing the Mary Quant exhibition – as you know I love colour and pattern and my background is in printed textiles! Can’t believe I’ve not been in the building since March, normally I would be in regularly delivering workshops for schools and families.
4th September – Dundee Contemporary Arts It’ll be nice to see Arty the penguin again at Jute Café Bar, I’m sure Arty has been a good guard while the building has been closed. I’ve always loved the DCA for their cinema, beer garden on a sunny day and picking up cool cards and gifts from the shop. You will be able to pick up my Dundee Delights greetings cards, magnets and tea towels here . The galleries will be opening the following week.
If you would like to see the full Dundee Delights collections inspired by Dundee landmarks and foods you can see them here with free postage on all orders. You’ll also spot some new prints inspired by the wildflower growing during lockdown.
Dundee’s location is the best! I love that I can be in the city, on the beach or in the countryside so quickly. I love to get out in the fresh air and be inspired by what I see! Here are some of my top places to walk and explore.
Broughty Ferry Beach is a regular spot for me and Rhubarb the dog. I’m always on the lookout for interesting colours, textures and patterns and Rhubarb is on the lookout for crabs! You can sometimes spot dolphins too if you’re lucky!
Barnhill Rock Garden always looks great with an abundance of textures of plants and flowers. Visocchis is a must for an ice cream and Jessies Kitchen for lunch or coffee and I highly recommend their strawberry tarts! Pretty Fly is great for gifts or treating yourself. You can pick up some of my Dundee Delights products there – prints, tea towels, cards, pins, bags and notepads!
7 Arches walk is part of the Monifieth Path and is great for exploring along the banks of the Dighty. On my walks I’ve spotted deer and love the wildflowers plus listening the the songbirds early in the morning.
Somewhere I’m going to check out is the Spaces for Places in Union Street as it’s now pedestrianised with planters and outdoor seating just next to the penguin sculptures. You can explore some of the streets you don’t normally go down part of the Open Close Trail in the city centre, and you can do it in Stobswell too. I love that this project brings colour and art to the city! My favourite doors are Jen Collins next to Forte cafe on Dura Street and Lindsay Brown owl on a wee lane behind Albert Square.
There are some new murals down near the V&A Dundee of the whales and check out the amazing artwork of Fraser Gray and Martin McGuinnes on the legs of the Tay road bridge. You can read more about it here.
On a clear day The Law is great for 360 degree views of the city, and going uphill really gets those leg muscles going but I do admit I’ve driven up to the top too! Balgay Hill walk up to the observatory (not currently open) is nice and you can go over the blue bridge to the graveyard. I love seeing the highland cows and great views over the river Tay on the Riverside Nature Trail.
As a student I used to spend lots of time drawing the cacti in the glass houses at the Botanical Garden and its a lovely place to wander amongst the range of trees and plants in their outdoor space.
Further afield Crombie County Park is a perfect length of walk amongst the trees around the loch. For me it’s really inspiring and I have lots of photos of things that inspire me from here! Monikie Country Park is great for feeding the ducks (they like peas and seeds instead of bread) and you can pick up an ice cream or coffee from Byzantium Cafe.
Kinshaldy Beach has the great combination of the beach and the woodland area, and check out the Crepe Shack if it’s there too. East Haven beach past Carnoustie has such a picturesque feeling.
For those of you who like the water I’ve seen some really cool pics from people going on the Outdoor Explore trips on the river Tay and Clunie loch.
I’ve always got my camera capturing some inspiration for my designs everything from wildflowers, textures to patterns in the sand. My designs bring into focus the positives to capture a sense of place so it connects people to the local area. You can read more about my design work here.
Recently I’ve been inspired by the wildflowers growing during lockdown and started to add this into my Dundee Cityscape. You can see the full Dundee Delights collections here with free postage on all orders.
During lockdown the simple things in life became even more important to me, from watching the waves in the River Tay to spending time painting for fun on the kitchen table. During this time I created a series of watercolour collages playing with rhythms of stripes with the juxtaposition of colour and pattern inspired by my local surroundings of the River Tay. It’s great what’s on our doorstep here in Dundee.
Prices range from £15 – £25 each, if you would like one for your home or office drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org Each one is a one-off original piece, initialled with free delivery. Each one is numbered under the image so please quote that in your email.
When my sales reach £1000 I pledge to buy £200 from another artist to help support others artists through this difficult time. This initiative was set up by Mathew Burrows Studio to support artists who have lost commissions, teaching and gallery work through the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you’re interested in my design commissions or Dundee Delights products you can see more about them here
Here in Scotland its tradition on Hogmanay (New Years Eve) to give a first foot gift after midnight. Traditionally gifts would be whisky to represent financial prosperity and good cheer, a lump of coal to represent warmth and to keep the fire burning, or a black bun or shortbread to symbolise that the receiving family would not go hungry during the forthcoming year.
Or a Dundee tradition I’ve been hearing about through Lynne Campbell (local folk singer) is the Dundee tradition of dressed herring in paper bonnets and skirts, which is meant to be a good luck charm (not for eating). Never seen it but sounds pretty unusual and cool! A couple of alternative Scottish First Foot Gifts in Dundee would be a Dundee Cake Tea Towel from my Dundee Delights collection of illustrated gift products or some Char Coal cheese from The Cheesery (Broughty Ferry or Exchange Street), which the first all black delicious vintage cheddar cheese with charcoal. Message me on social media or by email of what you like to be gifted as a first foot?
At the bells a Robert Burns song of Auld Lang Syne is often sung (or belted out!) or the bag pipes or some cheesy tunes.
All round Scotland on New Years Day some brave people take part in The Dook, where you go in the freezing water whatever the weather. You’ve got no chance of me doing that but I’ll will be watching The Dook in Broughty Ferry, with all the fun costumes and brave people. More info on it here.
What will you be doing for Hogmanay? Tucked up cosy in bed before the bells of partying the night away. What ever you’re doing enjoy and all the best for 2020!
To help you know where the best Dundee Christmas Markets are, here is my wee guide. Perfect for finding out what’s on in Dundee for picking up something unique for loved ones or treating yourself. Read more about some of the people I’m looking out for at each of these events. First up is….
On Tuesday 3rd April, I will be leaving visual clues on my social media, for people to find my Dundee Delights greetings cards around the city, if you would like to take part keep an eye on my Instagram, Twitter or my business Facebook page. I would love to see where my cards end up and who finds them, so please let me know via social media or drop me an email email@example.com
Louise Kirby Dundee Delights greetings cards celebrate some of the delicious delicacies and iconic places in and around Dundee. Her designs have a fresh approach to the city whilst retaining the hand drawn qualities. The new collection will include Dundee Marmalade, The Wellgate Clock, V&A Dundee from the Tay Bridge, Magdalen Green Bandstand and Sunny Dundee image. Previous designs include Broughty Ferry Beach + Castle, The Dundee Penguins, Dundee cakes, Frank Gehry’s Maggies Centre, Dundee Contemporary Arts and The McManus. This collection is in the World Favourite Colour of Marrs Green and sunshine yellow to capture the positive direction the city is heading.