How to transform the streets to bring more joy!

I believe colour and pattern can make a positive impact in the world!  The right colour can uplift mood helping people to feel more positive.  Pattern and imagery can help connect people to places and add meaning to placemaking.

Joyous Ground Graphics

Cobalt Collective, commission by V&A Dundee. Photo Credit Louise Kirby

One way to add more colour into the public realm is through adding ground graphics and colourful crossings transforming dreary tarmac streets into colourful ones! Look how joyful these are! Cobalt Collective in collaboration with with some community groups decorated the plaza around the V&A Dundee to create this colourful positive artwork.

Plaza by Cobalt Collective outside V&A Dundee. Photo credit Cobalt Collective

Examples of colourful ground graphics from around the UK

Camille Walala, 2016, London, commissioned by the Transport for London’s Future Streets Incubator Fund.
Photo by Better Bankside

“The aim of the Colourful Crossings commission is to explore how everyday infrastructures in the city, such as pedestrian crossings, are perceived and can be transformed,” said Better Bankside.

Stobswell Colourful Crossing 2021, Dundee by Louise Kirby, UNESCO City of Design Dundee funded by Sustrans Scotland.

I (Louise Kirby) created this design inspired by the local area taking elements from the historic architectural details, green spaces and public art after consultation with locals wanting more colour into the grey streets. You can see more about it and a blog about the whole process here

Eley Kishimoto, 2016, Brixton, London. Photo from Brixton Buzz

I’ve always loved this graphic iconic print design by Eley Kishimoto. It’s got great movement with the use of strong graphics in the positive and negative space. It looks great on the streets of Brixton, also in the variations of colours.

Graphic design by Callum Laird, Union Street, Dundee, UNESCO City of Design Dundee funded by Sustrans Scotland.
Photo credit David P Scott

It brings great joy to walk up and down through the colour of Union Street, Dundee to and from the V&A Dundee. I love the limited colour palette and bold graphics. Nice to see local businesses making use of the street, it reminds me of cafe culture on holiday! I look forward to seeing what happens next in this project to create a more permanent enhancement. I am really inspired by Dundee City Councils vision.

Craigie Compass by Bigg Design and Fun Makes Good, 2022, funded by Sustrans Scotland.
Photo by Bigg Design

Hamish from Bigg Design and Eleanor from Fun Makes Good created these cool ground murals called the ‘Craigie Compas’ to help with wayfinding in Perth, Scotland. Great to see the ground graphics used to help wayfinding, brighten up the area and the addition of fun signage giving it a 3d feel. You can read about it here

Practical Considerations

On ground graphics we have a limited colour palette. By using different colour combinations we can get varied results.  There are options from the material used to apply the designs depending on if it’s a temporary or longer term installation and what the purpose of the area is used for.  When designing a ground graphic in the public realm consideration and consultation needs to be in place for accessibility for all users’ needs.

They are a great way to inject a bit of fun, playfulness and joy!

Dundee cake inspired design in Puebla Mexico for UNESCO City of Design Dundee, designed by Louise Kirby.
Photo credit UNESCO city of Design Dundee

An example of taking a bit of Dundee to the other side of the world in Puebla,Mexico, representing UNESCO City of Design Dundee. You can read more about this project where students from Puebla painted my design and used design to highlight a safety issue on the roads you can read more about it here

I have a vision of the world full of colourful creative interventions to bring more joy to the spaces we play, live, work and travel through.  My aim is to uplift and connect people and highlight the positives by creating artworks that capture a sense of place which creates a sense of belonging.  I love to do this with my use of playfully applying colour and pattern.

I am ready to take on new design challenges and if you have a project, collaboration or commission in mind please get in touch hello@louisekirby.com or you can check some samples on my website to give you a flavour of previous projects.

Stobswell Shutter Arts

I’ve loved painting the shutter art designs on 3 businesses on Albert Street in Stobswell Dundee. All designs are inspired by highlighting the positives in the area.

It’s been a joyful experience with lots of banter from locals giving me positive encouragement ‘what you up to?’ and me replying I’m bringing a bit of colour and pattern to the area to brighten it up!

Here’s a flavour of what folk have said over the weeks I was painting: “You’re doing a braw job of this, it’s keeping you busy, it’s so cheerful “, “Amazing what a difference it makes”, “That’s smart”, “You must have good patience, it’s lovely!”, “Radical Colours”, “He’s fascinated with your swans”, “Are you painting the whole street?”, “I hope you’re getting paid for this, it’s lovely and making a real difference”, And to top it off ‘Eh Ken you’

Colour is really important to me and I believe it can change how a place feels, which in turn can change how people feel. I want the people of Stobswell to feel positive and uplifted. For these designs I used the same vibrant colour palette from the Pocket Parks I designed in 2021 on Craigie St and Eliza Street.

The Albert Bar

The Albert Bar design is filled with colourful patterns, shapes and colours taken from the local area, such as the row of 7 arches inspired by the arches of the windows of the Baxter Park Pavilion, zig zags from the public art sculpture on Princess Street and geometrics from the brickwork gable end on Craigie Street.

Initially I was only to be painting one shutter but I extended the design onto 2 other shutters to look like the squares were falling off like an old school video game and bouncing in the shape of a zig zag to echo the detail. I think having all 3 together gives a stronger impact and the zig zag directs your eye to the main shutter.  Great to hear The Albert Bar or should I say L’lbert is planning on upgrading their frontage and fixing their sign now that they have shutter art!

The Property Shop

The Property Shop design is inspired by the Swannie Ponds featuring rows of swans, leaves and rippling water to create stripes of colourful patterns. This design idea developed further as I was painting as I wanted it to be more engaging to the children that walked and wheeled past as the bottom section is at a good eye level for them. I added 2 larger scale swans and some boats to give a nod to the Dundee Model Boat Club. It was nice to hear “He’s fascinated with your swans” as a lady and wee boy passed daily.

Lucky House

The Lucky House bold circular design is full of decorative details on the inside and outside and I think the clashing red and pink just sing together.  I was keen to include red as it represents happiness, beauty, success, and good fortune in China.

Can you spot where the patterns come from?

Ornamental details from the Baxter Park railings and the ironwork on the rooftop of Morgan Academy, zig zags from the public art sculpture. Some of these elements are also seen in my colourful crossing on Eliza Street. (you can read more about it here)

While painting the Lucky House shutter a local said ‘That’s not an oriental design’ and I explained the meaning of the patterns which started the conversation and hearing the history about how the Morgan Academy railings were removed in the 2nd world war to be used for bullets. You learn something new everyday!

I wanted each design to look unique but also to work as a series. I think they make a stronger impact being positioned quite close together, just imagine if they went all the way up Albert Street!

This commission was part of an open call from Sustran Scotland who are encouraging walking and wheeling in the area. We approached business owners with possible designs to find out if they were interested. I created sketches and shared for feedback, then agreed suitable times I could paint that didn’t interfere with their opening hours. I got all layered up in my painting clothes. The designs were painted by hand and I used some stencils and I created the circle shape using the lofi method of a bit of string and chalk. Thanks to all the help from Stobswell Forum and Dundee City Council Community Officer to encourage businesses to take part.

We had a Celebration Day to showcase the shutter art where myself and artist Gordy Crawford did tours talking about our inspiration and process. This event was in partnership with the Stobswell Form, Sustrans Scotland, Dundee City Council, where fun chalk activities were happening on Craigie Street and info about the future regeneration plans.

I really hope that the shutters bring joy to the people of the area who use it. Let me know what you think or how they make you feel!

`You can find out more about my projects here

This project was funded by Sustrans Scotland, Pocket Places programme where local communities shape their neighbourhood and take a lead in making their local area a better place to walk, wheel, cycle – and live.

Explore. Play. Create.

DCA Windows Inspiration and Process

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.

Research

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. 

Development

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.

You can find out more about my work here

Colours and pattens inspired by the River Tay for Artist Support Pledge.

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 hello@louisekirby.com   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.


26.Costal Calm Watercolour Collage B. (fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £15 – SOLD

31.Mindful Watercolour Collage B. (fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £18

35.Sandy Shore Watercolour Collage C. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £18

41.Meditation Watercolour Collage D. (fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

42.Meditation Watercolour Collage E. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

43 Colour Study Watercolour Collage A. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20 – SOLD

44.Zesty Summer Watercolour Collage. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

45.Colour Study Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

46.Tranquil Tay A Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

48.Seaweed Watercolour Collage. (Fits in a standard 8” x 6” frame).  £20

49.Rustic Watercolour Collage (fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

51.Ripple Watercolour Collage A (fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

52.Ripple Watercolour Collage B. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

53.Rhythm Watercolour Collage A. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

54.Rhythm Watercolour Collage B. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame) £20

55.Teal Tay Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

56.Journey Watercolour Collage A. (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

58.Accent Watercolour Collage A. (Fits in a standard 8” x 8” frame).  £25

59.Accent Watercolour Collage B (fits a standard 8” x 8” frame). £25

60.Accent Watercolour Collage C. (Fits into a standard 8” x 8” frame) £25

62.Costal Calm Watercolour Collage F. (Fits a standard 8” x 8” frame) £25 – SOLD

64. Sand Meets Seat and Sky Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20 – SOLD

65. Brightness After the Rain A Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

66. Brightness After the Rain B Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

67. Rhythm A Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

68. Rhythm B Watercolour Collage . (Fits a standard 8” x 6” frame). £20

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

Hogmanay Scottish First Foot Tradition

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!

 

 

 

Photo credit: David Band Photography