London is to experience its first ever exhibition of “construction art” next week at a gallery off historic Brick Lane.
The construction of Glasgow’s new Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Transport Museum is the focus of Threadneedle-prize winning artist Patricia Cain’s first major solo London exhibition.
Cain is well-known in Scotland for having given up a legal career to follow her art, and for painting Glasgow’s industrial regeneration – a topic close to the heart of many cities in the UK.
Her study of the striking Transport Museum took her to the banks of the Clyde where she sat and worked amongst the construction workers of the main building contractor, BAM Construction, making her an artist among artisans.
For the best part of four years her endurance to produce more than 100 highly detailed paintings, drawings and sculptures recorded and reflected the construction team’s own process of managing and creating the iconic museum with its complex steel structure and uniquely contoured wave-shaped roof.
As a result of working so closely with the BAM team, Cain’s artwork became about the process of construction rather than the building itself.
‘It created a strong bond between us”, says Cain. ‘As a relative outsider I was given a real insight into the experience of what it’s like to be on site during the construction of a seminal public building. The BAM guys probably take it for granted, but the organisation of making a structure like this is like some complicated dance sequence. I came to appreciate how construction is all about management, being able to work with others and creating something through skill....so there are a lot of similarities with the process of making art.
‘It’s fantastic to be able to show this work at Spitalfields, where there’s such a strong architectural heritage and I hope that those involved in construction in particular might get something from seeing their own realm relayed back to them’.
Paul Jaffray, BAM’s project manager for the £70 million Riverside Museum project, said:
‘BAM allowed Patricia unprecedented access to the construction site throughout the build process which was vital to allow her to capture the structure in its raw sate. I know Patricia acknowledges that the flexibility shown by BAM enabled her to produce her amazing work. It’s a great pleasure for us to see something that means so much to us represented in this way.’