Artist: LIZ RIDEAL, Glass Drapes (2001), Light Column (2005)
Recalling Constantin Brancusi’s Endless Column, Liz Rideal’s Light Column, functions as a visual glass conduit between the architectural levels of the theatre building. The outer wall, Glass Drapes, reflects and echoes the column, an independent yet connected work in translucent repetitious form.
The allusion to draped cloth refers to the background fabrics originally seen in painted portraits. This convention became a familiar sight in photographic studios, and is retained in the photo-booth.
The basic logic and imagery for these artworks is derived from the repetition of a strip of four photographs taken in such a booth and measuring 20 x 4 centimetres.
Since 1997 Liz Rideal has used drapery as her subject, picturing cloth in performance. The pattern reproduced on these glassworks reiterates drapery folds. Light and curtains combine as signifiers of theatrical atmosphere. Both the outer glass wall and inner hanging glass column reflect and shadow each other, an extension of audience and stage echoed in endlessly choreographed repetitions.
In Glass Drapes, ground glass and pigment were photo silk-screened onto the two metre squares of plate glass. This enlarged photograph was made permanent by the application of intense heat.
In Light Column, the original rectangular format of the photo-booth image was used for the interconnecting glass boxes; sixteen of these were created in response to this rhythm of 4 x 4. These boxes in turn have four sides, one side is made up of sixteen parts, and eight of these are mirrors.
The strict sequencing and fixed ‘cast’ of components evokes the precision of repeated performances over time, with mirrors as ‘actors’ adding sparkle and individuality.
As patrons ascend and descend the staircase, so they revolve around the spiralling glass structure. As day changes to night, and the theatre expands and contracts with visitors, so the reflected patterns and shadows will also change, continuously activating the space.
Artist: BALRAJ KHANNA (1998) Jointly sponsored by Birmingham Post and Wilkinson
The maquette of the painting hangs in the stalls foyer (Level 1, Door A) with a detailed commentary by the artist.
The unmissable and unique painting on our safety curtain is by the London based artist and best-selling author BALRAJ KHANNA. It is one of the largest pieces of public art in the UK standing 13m wide by over 8m high.
“Inspired by music and dance” wrote the artist, “the work encapsulates the spirit of theatre and resonates with magic and mystery which becomes all the more tantalising when we realise that the somewhat surrealistic elements populating the painting are all inter-related.
With thanks to Mr and Mrs Gordon Tonkinson, Wilkinsons and Birmingham Post and Mail Ltd (2001) all of whom played their part in enabling the maquette to be owned by Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust Ltd.