I was commissioned by Enfield Council to create a special temporary exterior artwork for the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town. The centre is an art and business space for the local community. It closed during the Covid-19 lockdown and was used as a covid vaccination centre whilst undergoing refurbishment.
My vision for the exterior art for the Dugdale Centre was always going to be colourful. It really is what I do best. My illustrations are sometimes a little quirky and generally fun with a bit of seriousness thrown in for equal measure. I wanted to create a joyful scene of hope, love and solidarity. One year on from the first Covid-19 lockdown, the community really a bit of uplifting. The art was installed in April 2021 and stayed up for over 18 months.
For most of us, our homes had been our staycations in 2020/21. A place where our home life merged with our work life. And where some of us were truly able to gain a work/life balance. A place where we got to spend more time with immediate family. The local parks had been our salvation – helping us to get out in the fresh air and stay local with much-needed open space around us to keep us as safe from the virus as possible. We had to find new ways to get our exercise quota in when the gyms had to close their doors.
I wanted to give the art piece a sense of place, so it was a no-brainer to feature Forty Hall. It’s such a recognisable location in the borough. The area is also very green so wildlife also plays a major part. Birds, squirrels, foxes – our pets. I almost included a rainbow as this is now synonymous with the NHS but the art piece is full of rainbow colours so really wasn’t necessary.
The art was designed to depict hope (with added typography) that things can get back to a new kind of normal. It was also a celebration of what we all managed to achieve in very difficult times. All of the typography featured was hand drawn or had hand-drawn elements added to it. The words act as a gentle reminder to keep safe, enjoy yourself and to always be(e) kind.
Grow, eat, sustain
The purple guy features twice in the illustration. He’s collecting food provisions grown at Forty Hall and then preparing it in the café. It’s a nod to the amazing work that Forty Hall do with supplying sustainable food to local cafés and shops. They also produce their own wine!
The Dugdale Arts Centre
The lovely Dugdale Arts Centre hidden behind the art was not forgotten. The singer and juggler were positioned near the entrance.
Occasionally, I like to push the boat out with a huge pop of colour and use colours which aren’t normal skin-based ones. This commission was one such occasion where I thought that it could be embraced. We are all one colourful nation with multiple countries of birth, where different languages are spoken and diverse cultures are celebrated.
I always knew from the start that the largest characters in the art would be two people hugging. We all know that hugs were in short supply during the pandemic. We all missed them. Hence the title of this piece ‘The Hug’. There’s no other name that would be more appropriate.
With thanks to Katrina Campbell for the portrait photos.
Where can you see the art?
Unfortunately the art was only temporary. It stayed up for almost two years and came down when the Dugdale reopened it’s doors in December 2022.
What the client said
“We hope that it brings the joy to the community that it brings to us.” Dugdale Arts Centre
“Thank you so much for the detailed work you have done to bring this beautiful design to life…the detailed precision of the design reads beautifully. You are awesome.” Paul Everitt, Former Head of Culture, Enfield Council
What the public said
“It’s amazing – makes me a bit emotional to tell the truth. Well done!” Twitter user
“Nice job – really brightens up the building and surroundings. A talking point in Enfield Town and a new vaccine centre too….It’s so nice to see something different around town.” Twitter user
“Wow! You can see this from space!” Twitter user