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Art Fabrication, Vitreous Enamel and Public Art Projects: Frequently Asked Questions

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14 September 2021

Links Signs have supported artists in the creation of public arts projects in the UK for over a decade, fulfilling the role of public art fabricator often operating behind the scenes.

We help artists to realise their concepts and designs as both permanent pieces of public art or as more temporary exhibition pieces, art installations and murals. We have also provided durable vitreous enamel signage for art projects for museums, art galleries and local authorities as well as working on complex artworks commissioned by individual artists.

To bring an artist’s vision to life involves a range of skills and expertise from the art manufacturer and often little is known about the role the art fabricator plays and how they work alongside artists. Here are the answers to a few of our most frequently asked questions.

What is art fabrication?

We may imagine (or even prefer to imagine) that artists work alone to do everything themselves when creating the perfect embodiment of their vision. The image of the lonely artists toiling away in the process of creating their art is a compelling one.

However, artists often rely on the practical skills and processes perfected by others – the art fabricators – to bring about the projects they have in mind. This is particularly the case when artists are creating large scale public artworks or if they are using unfamiliar materials that require expert understanding and knowledge.

 What specialist skills are needed in creating public art?

 What are the most durable materials for outside art installations?

Durability and safety are of paramount concern for public art installation that are often outside. Knowledge of which material to choose to withstand varied weather conditions and heavy footfall all require experience and understanding of the abilities and properties of the materials used.

Links Signs are often asked to produce artworks in vitreous enamel because of its unique properties. Vitreous enamel is extremely durable, fire retardant, graffiti resistant and has a lifespan of 25 years which makes it ideal for many public murals and signage projects.

How is vitreous enamel used in public art?

Vitreous enamel has many advantages that make it a popular choice of material amongst artists, museums, and galleries. It is practical and aesthetically pleasing as the colours created in vitreous enamel artworks are vibrant and do not fade with sun or harsh weather conditions. It is the perfect materials for colourful exterior public artworks.

Project – Creative Coast

It is often used for public art signage where the wording displayed needs to remain prominent and readily legible for long periods. Links Signs produced a series of vitreous enamel signage for a recent public art project for the Turner Contemporary and the Arts Council’s Creative Coasts project. The project linked 7 art installations around the Southeast Coast of England and as well as a description of each artwork every sign featured a QR code for visitors to find out more about the context and artists involved.

Project – The Labyrinth by Mark Wallinger

Vitreous Enamel as a process creates a glossy visually impactful finish to each piece that is extremely tactile. This property was exploited for the “The Labyrinth”  underground art installation pieces that Links Signs produced for renowned Turner Prize Winning Artist Mark Wallinger to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. 270 individual artworks were displayed in each Underground Station and featured a bold black, white, and red design. Pre-Covid one of the features of this design was to encourage the visually impaired to experience the artwork by tracking the embossed lines of the labyrinth with their fingers. The process of vitreous enamelling used enabled the raised embossing and the durable finish needed when an artwork is expected to be touched by millions of visitors.

Project- Northwood Hills Mural

The public art murals Links Signs manufactured for the London Borough of Hillingdon for Northwood Hills link were constructed from 48 individual screen-printed panels that created a run of modular vitreous enamel cladding. The murals feature artwork by renowned artists Gordon Collett and Cosmo Sarson and celebrate the history of the areas as a large-scale regeneration project.

London Underground required the structures to be fixed to a robust frame so we were required to balance the requirements of the artists and meet the stringent structural requirements to meet Health and Safety demands.

We love to support the creation of public art in the UK and believe wholeheartedly in the benefits it brings to the public and communities. We thrive on our work with artists to create their visions and would welcome you to get in touch if you need support with a public arts project.

 

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