Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

The place for serious discussion, announcements and breaking news about Sydenham

Moderator: frenzarin

Art Dog
Posts: 1
Joined: 3 May 2012 01:10
Location: Forest Hill

Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Art Dog » 3 May 2012 02:37

This is a short review of the recently concluded competition to find a winning design for the Greyhound 'mural' wall. It does not pretend to be neutral, indeed it celebrates it's subjectivity in the gonzo tradition and makes no apology for having it's own views, terms of reference and perspective. In so doing it exchanges faux objectivity for honest opinion and the vibrancy of a considered set of judgements and conclusions. If you prefer bland liberalism be advised you will be disappointed.

The competition to find a new design for the rear facing wall of the Greyhound Pub is now over. Although I didn't count them individually I would estimate about 30 to 35 designs were submitted. These varied from the sort of image your child brings home from primary school for you to pin to the fridge with magnets until it falls off with the weight of splashed breakfast cereal, random tears and the sheer weight of wax crayon it carries, to some very competent and professional contenders that had been executed with a degree of finesse. In between was a slew of random. Swirling portraits of Lord knows who, pieces of clip art hopefully cut and pasted in position, and minimalist (read 'lazy') offerings of various assorted breeds. In short, the sort of mix you might expect. The brief to which this motley crew adressed temselves was fairly clear; to come up with a design that reflected the history and development of the site. With that in mind, a brief tour of the entries on show confirmed that at least 90% of the submissions had utterly overlooked that fundamental requirement. Should make the judging easy you'd think, and you'd be wrong.

The mysterious 'Judges' who blankly celebrate their anonymity for reasons that shall become clear shortly, included we are told , an "expert in public art". How one becomes so designated is a matter of some considerable incredulity. I know of no formal course of study that would support such an honorific, so it is almost certainly an honour bestowed on the mystery person by themselves, no doubt with the endorsement of their fellow mystery persons. To put this in perspective, I would judge that perhaps Anthoney Gormley is arguably the only person in England I might designate as an 'expert in public art', and there's the point - that such an honorific is for others to bestow, not for the self to claim, which probably explains why it made me squirm to read that such an 'expert' was involved.

Similarly keeping their identity - and hence qualifications for the job - under wraps was "a local shopkeeper". Clearly quite an impressive selection process going on behind the scenes before we even get started on the judging proper, but I have no doubt that a very competent, articulate and informed person was chosen by a fair and open lottery for this role from one of Sydenhams many and diverse shops, and it would be scurrilous to suggest that this unnamed person was perhaps a good friend of one of the other judges, also unnamed.

About the rest of the judging team information is even more scant, except that one of them works for Lewisham Council's Arts department, so some tip of the hat towards due process there at last.

After nearly a month on display at the Kirkdale Bookshop, a winner was announced. The winning entry is apparently a copy of an oil painting depicting a Greyhound, except the image has been rendered using lots of much smaller photographs as 'pixels', a technique which was very 'wow' in the early 1980's when it first appeard, but is now, well, very 80's. The selection of this image as the winner is difficult to fathom. It's problems are, collectively, astronomical. Consider:-
  1. 1. The image doesn't address much less meet the brief in any way. A Greyhound? That's it? This is unfortunate, and I imagine an insult to those entrants who perhaps hampered their design by actually addressing the brief. If the brief had said 'just do us a nice picture because that's what we really want' it would have created an even playing field and we would have seen many more interesting designs submitted. Moreover it would have been honest.

    2. This design is touted to stand on site for 'hundreds' of years; so why start with something already stylistically so outdated and so backward looking as the 80's pixcel effect? They stopped giving that software away free on magazine covers in the 90's. Graphic design has moved on more than just a little in the last 40 years, so to tie the place to the 80's is bizarre to say the least.

    3. The image the Greyhound is taken from is allegedly copyrighted. Copyright is a complex and oft misunderstood area. For example: people imagine that an old painting of this sort is 'out of copyright' - well yes and no. It wouldn't be the canvas itself that is the concern, it's photos taken from it that we must consider. The current owners of the painting ensure that no members of the public are allowed to take photo's, because the owners take the photo themselves to market the image - postcards, greetings cards, biscuit tin lids and so forth. If you have a picture of that Greyhound - rest assured - it's almost certainly not yours and it's unlikely to be public domain. Good luck with copyright clearance on that.

    4. Even more interesting is the digital rights clearance surrounding the constituent photos that make up the image. They 'appear' to include images of people, possibly children. Again non experts have a deliciously simplified and profoundly mistaken idea of what the issues are. Here it's not only who owns the image i.e. who bought the film or who bought the memory card if the photography was digital, but who is featured in the image. Have they signed a release form? If the image contains a likeness of a minor special rules apply. Minimally you need a consent and release form signed by the parents or guardians. Again, good luck with that.

    5. There are other issues too numerous to list in full, so I shall finish on the killer. For this type of image to work for the eye & brain, that is, to see the smaller images as making up the larger image (the Greyhound) you need to see the image in a particular way. In technical jargon, the image needs to subtend a visual angle of around 20 degrees of arc. In simplified terms, you need to be easily able to see the whole image at a glance, like when the image is a piece of paper one or two foot wide and about three feet away from you. Or when the image is the size of a house and about 70 feet away. Get any closer so the image starts to fill your visual field and all you can see is a sort of 'visual porrige' of photographs smeared together. You'd never know what it's supposed to depict because you cannot see the whole image from sufficient distance to reslve it. So how far away from the image will you actually be able to get? The furthest away from the back of the Woodman you'll be able to stand, that is the distance from the back wall of the Woodman to the front wall of the flats that surround it - is approximately 4 meters at the narrowest point, broadeningly slightly towards the eastern elevation. All anyone will ever be able to see is 'visual porrige'.
The one hope for the site is that the secretive organisers work out that the legal hurdles surrounding rights clearance alone - the costs and the timescales involved, make their dated design choice a non-starter. But then they knew that anyway - they had an expert on board. 8)

ALIB
Posts: 1541
Joined: 12 Oct 2006 21:34
Location: East Sussex

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by ALIB » 3 May 2012 07:20

Is there a link/picture of the winning design ? or can't it yet be seen for copyright reasons ?

Tim Lund
Posts: 6687
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Tim Lund » 3 May 2012 07:45

Quite a long review, I'd have said :D

I'm not as incensed about this whole process as 'Art Dog', but that probably has something to do with making no great claims to art expertise. The far from anonymous Bruce Harrison, who publicised the competition on this Forum personally encouraged me to make my comments in the consultation, which I did. My experience then, and subsequent private discussions, bear out much of what 'Art Dog' writes.

At the time, I'm afraid I quite liked the winning Greyhound - I think I made it my 2nd choice - but it was only afterwards that the visual problems of taking it in in such a confined space was pointed out to me. I had also no idea of the possible legal and practical problems - but these are the sorts of thing a good panel of judges should surely have taken account of. But even at the time, I realised my choices, based solely on how it looked in the exhibition, were tending to the more abstract - in other words favouring artists who'd chosen to ignore the design brief of 'The Essence of Sydenham'.

Like 'Art Dog' I'm also bothered by the process, and the general if not universal anonymity of people involved - including, be it noted, 'Art Dog' him- (or her-?) self. What sort of place do we live in that people are frightened to identify themselves when they say what they think about a piece of public art, either judges or critics?

And to back up ALIB - is there a link to wherever this was announced?

michael
Posts: 1272
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by michael » 3 May 2012 07:49


leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by leenewham » 3 May 2012 07:57

Ah, I'm outed Michael.

I will respond in full to this later. Interesting first post Art Dog.

The images will be supplied by people in Sydenham who will sign a waver, the Greyhound image is an artistic representation of a previous Greyhound Pub sign, not a photographic retouch of a copyright image etc. The kids in the visual are just for the visual and you will see some nice pictures of my now almost 7 month old son, Thomas along with other family photos. The final image will be pictures supplied by people in Sydenham of people in sydenham, art in sydenham, famous people form sydenham, art in sydenahm etc etc etc.

michael
Posts: 1272
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by michael » 3 May 2012 13:23

Congratulations Lee. I think it is innovative. whether I like it is another matter, but I wouldn't worry about that. Generally I would recommend ignoring my views on art.

But since Lee is going to take a little more time to respond, let me express a couple of my concerns, so that he can put my mind at ease. I'm not trying to make trouble for somebody for whom, although I only know virtually, I have a great deal of respect.

With these two disclaimers out the way:
1. Why does the image have to cover the windows and doors?
2. Does this fit with a locally listed building in a conservation area?
3. Will there be adequate light to view the image properly?

Will the architectural features still be clearly visible, including rear doors which I would assume act as fire exits or delivery entrances?
Since the majority of the art work is empty space/background, does it really need to take over the whole of the wall, rather than allowing the normal features of a wall to be shown?

I assume the reason for listing this building was not the rear wall that didn't exist in this form previously (or today), but listing was more about the frontage and interior. But I still can't imagine placing this scale of art work on the rear other listed or locally listed buildings (even one that has been dwarfed by an anonymous block of flats).

Lighting is important because the rear wall will not naturally get much light, so an image that is shown in sepia colours will be subtle, even more so if you are trying to view detail in each square decimetre. Maybe that's the point?

Whoever won would need to defend their design. I'm very pleased that the person responsible is on the forum and I assume is willing to engage in a discussion about the design. I ask these questions not to cause trouble, or out of any disappointment at not winning a competition I did not enter, I ask them because I am interested in the answers and prepared to listen.

Tim Lund
Posts: 6687
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Tim Lund » 3 May 2012 13:47

michael wrote:1. Why does the image have to cover the windows and doors?
Interesting that you ask this Michael, since this was one thing which I liked about Lee's design. The actual positions of the windows and door struck me as very awkward, so I went for designs which either ignored them, or worked them unobtrusively into a larger pattern. I guess I assumed they were not essential. Of course, now that the wall is to be completely rebuilt, maybe there could be more freedom for artists in a rerun of the competition?

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by leenewham » 3 May 2012 15:02

I have been at meetings all day and just got back. So here goes.

Firstly, thanks for your kind words Michael, hopefully I can answer your questions, and to everyone else that has emailed and pm'd us. I will deal with your points first Michael:

• Why does the image have to cover the windows and doors?
Well, it doesn't have to. As part of the visual we entered into the competition we looked at covering them with the same sort of film they use on buildings and busses that allows you to see through them from the outside. That is an option. The other option is to allow the doors and windows to just appear as doors and windows. We need to discuss this with Purelake and the people who will carry out the works.

• Does this fit with a locally listed building in a conservation area?
Do you mean from a permission point of view or from a visual point of view? Provision was made for an artwork as part of the rebuilding works I understand, we merely entered the competition. A precedent appears to have been set with the Mosaic on the Nabourhood Centre which was granted permission. From an image point of view, it's a new wall on an old pub and essentially a blank canvas. We think that our design along with some of the other entries would all be fitting additions to the wall.

• Will there be adequate light to view the image properly?
I believe so. We actually did a little bit of research for this by walking through narrowish streets in London to see what it might look like. I don't believe this to be an issue, but it would be the same for any of the designs unless they had lighting built into it was wasn't part of the brief.

• Will the architectural features still be clearly visible, including rear doors which I would assume act as fire exits or delivery entrances?
Yes. We worked to the drawings we were given, as everyone was. The information we had was the same as everyone else. We aren't moving or deleting any doors.

• Since the majority of the art work is empty space/background, does it really need to take over the whole of the wall, rather than allowing the normal features of a wall to be shown?
I'm not sure what you mean by 'the normal features of the wall'. I'm presuming that the rear wall wont be brick as it's being totally rebuilt and will probably be render on top of breeze block. The 'empty space' is of sky and grass. From a distance you will get it, from up close you get to see each Sydenham 'pixel' which are the contributions from the community.


I hope that answers our questions Michael. If not, please let me know.

leenewham
Posts: 5886
Joined: 2 Sep 2007 11:58
Location: SYDENHAM
Contact:

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by leenewham » 3 May 2012 16:04

To reply to the original poster, Art Dog:

I can't comment on the first part of your post about the judging, I think it's up to the judges.

I'm interested in what computer you had in the 1980's. I had a zx81, not really capable of much in the way of image manipulation! The first I heard about these programs was around 2004 when we used one for a concept for a package design for a major supermarket.

These programs, like other drawings programs, a pencil, a scalpel or a brush are tools that help you visualize ideas. They don't create instant design. This was the most effective way of visualizing our idea, which was to create a larger picture out of smaller pictures and those smaller pictures all all images from or of Sydenham. Indeed we tried all sorts of configurations, sizes and programs and the blessed Photoshop to arrive at a visual that we best thought communicated the idea.

The brief was to “capture the Essence of Sydenham”. We believed this was an idea which answered this brief: an image of a greyhound on the Greyhound Pub made up of images that represent Sydenham.

To answer the 1980's bit, Graphic design is about solving problems, not about current fashion trends. If you have to use technology from another era to answer a problem, then so be it.

The Greyhound image is based on an image of an old sign for the Greyhound (see below).

Image

It's an artistic representation of a few old images of Greyhounds and skys that we used as a template to match the images to. I have been through this process before with a major supermarket regarding copyright which involved the advice of lawyers. We aren't using the original image. But you are right, copyright is a complex issue.

Regarding the images of actual people, well as I have already said, the child in the blown up image is my son. The final image will be made of images sent to us by people in Sydenham. They will have to sign a release form and images will be vetted. More details on this later. The images will be varied and will include the other entries into the competition (if they want to of course), art, illustrations, photos etc.

Regarding the viewing angle etc, I was worried about this too to be honest.

But then I printed out some pixels, actual size and stuck them on my fence, measured out 4-5 meters and imagined what it would look like. We think it will work, but to be honest, we didn't have access to the site to view it (as none of the participants in the competition did) and until it's installed no-one will know for sure exactly the best place to see it all from. I don't believe it will look like visual soup. We designed a sign for a shop that was made to look like mosaics and it looked great from a short distance away.

I hope that answers your issues Art Dog. Can I ask, are you local? Are you an artist? If so, please get in touch, it sounds like you have a lot of expertise on matters relating to design, and while we may not see eye to eye on this matter, I'm sure your skills can be put to good use on other projects in the local community that we are hoping to participate in over the coming years.

Regards

Lee and the team at Designed By Good People.

Billie
Posts: 29
Joined: 20 May 2009 19:50
Location: Sydenham

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Billie » 4 May 2012 20:54

Hi, I read this forum frequently but don't often post. This thread made me feel a bit depressed about people who like to knock ideas but never have a good idea of their own. I think art is very subjective - everyone has an opinion and it's rare that 100% of people are united in their views. That's life. Now, there was a competition and something had to win. That's how competitions go. I'm not a designer, but my job requires me to partner with designers. I get paid to communicate messages to people. That said, this is my opinion (for what it's worth). I really like this design. I can understand why Lee and his colleagues/friends came up with this concept and I think it's actually very clever. First, it's inclusive. It's art that features normal every day people in Sydenham. People might see people they know. People will get excited about possibly having their picture selected. I'm already thinking that I'd love to have a snap of me and my 2 year old niece included in the final piece . That would be so exciting for her to see when she gets older. People who get selected to be included can, in years to come, show their photo to family and friends who visit Sydenham. I also like the concept because it acts as a historic snapshot of the community at an important time in its history - a period of regeneration and change. I think the people who selected this winner have done a good job. I think Lee has interpretted the brief well and has come up with a design that Sydenham can be proud of. This is a really exciting project and I hope people get involved and participate in making it a local site of interest.

Dorian
Posts: 371
Joined: 6 Sep 2007 14:55
Location: se26

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Dorian » 4 May 2012 21:25

Well said Billie, I agree with you.

Maria
Posts: 374
Joined: 3 Nov 2010 14:34
Location: Sydenham

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Maria » 4 May 2012 22:39

I like the idea (reflecting Sydenham); I love the design; and I particularly like the fact that it covers a massive wall, including its door and windows. Fabulous.

Annie
Posts: 1187
Joined: 13 May 2006 11:08
Location: Sydenham

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Annie » 5 May 2012 13:10

Well done Lee,
Its a fantastic design,very inclusive, very clever and very apt for Sydenham,I love it :D :D

artdoglondon
Posts: 1
Joined: 6 May 2012 11:53
Location: honor oak

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by artdoglondon » 6 May 2012 14:04

Why are you using my name to write these reviews? My name is Pippa Graber and I have been running ArtDog for the past 12 years. This is an infringement and I am not happy with it.Please be aware that I will be contacting the Sydenham Town Forum to complain.
If you would like to speak to me directly you can email me on artdoglondon@aol.com.

marymck
Posts: 1577
Joined: 9 Feb 2008 16:30
Location: Upper Kirkdale

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by marymck » 6 May 2012 14:33

Oh puh-lees ...

I don't know who Art Dog (two words) is, and I don't share his or her views. But surely no one has exclusive rights to use a name like that? If so, I think Thatcher Hurd got in before you. His character (and book of the same name) was published by Harper Collins in 1996 and I believe is still in print.

Then there's the Texan artist, Rebecca Collins (artdogblog).

artdog.com - sculpture

artdogstudios - photographer

But then there's a good pedigree (if you'll excuse the doggy expression) for this sort of thing.

Warner Brothers objected to the Marx Brothers' use of "Casablanca" in the title of their movie "A Night in Casablanca".

Groucho wrote back objecting to Warner Brothers use of the word "Brothers".

The text of Groucho's letter is here ...

http://www.chillingeffects.org/resource ... ourceID=31

marymck
Posts: 1577
Joined: 9 Feb 2008 16:30
Location: Upper Kirkdale

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by marymck » 6 May 2012 14:36

Oh and Lee ... love your ideas. Please, please don't forget my childhood hero Professor Branestawm - creation of Sydenham boy Norman Hunter. (The books I have were illustrated by W.Heath Robinson.)

Annie
Posts: 1187
Joined: 13 May 2006 11:08
Location: Sydenham

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Annie » 6 May 2012 15:13

artdoglondon wrote:Why are you using my name to write these reviews? My name is Pippa Graber and I have been running ArtDog for the past 12 years. This is an infringement and I am not happy with it.Please be aware that I will be contacting the Sydenham Town Forum to complain.
If you would like to speak to me directly you can email me on artdoglondon@aol.com.

Are you a child?

Rachael
Posts: 2435
Joined: 23 Jan 2010 13:42
Location: Sydenham / Forest Hill Intersection

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by Rachael » 6 May 2012 16:05

I can understand artdog's concern, as her business is local and people might think the review emanated from her. It's probably just a coincidence, rather than deliberate infringement, but stranger things have happened.

[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image

simon
Posts: 928
Joined: 11 Oct 2006 15:35
Location: Longton Avenue

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by simon » 6 May 2012 16:44

I too can understand Pippa's concern. One of the things she does is to supply art to pubs like the Dolphin. The work is for sale and someone may well think twice about buying something from someone who thinks the seller has written such a condescending, pompous review of the Greyhound wall competition. Displays a lack of originality by the OP, in my opinion.

safdirector
Posts: 150
Joined: 25 Aug 2010 11:09
Location: Sydenham

Re: Review - Greyhound Pub Design Competition.

Post by safdirector » 6 May 2012 16:56

This is one of the problems with forums that allow posters to post anonymously. I suggest that the forum dispenses with this option and only shows posts from those willing to share their actual identity.

Just to add: I think Lee's design was easily the best proposal, so well done to him.

Jonathan Kaufman
Director, Sydenham Arts Festival

Post Reply