I’ve done better, then again, in some ways I haven’t. I’d walked into the fog, the fog being the unknown, putting one foot in front of the other and just kept going. And here was the result. One end of the Impact Hub Westminster, a co-working office in New Zealand House, had been turned into an art installation. Several hundred metres of palette wrap, in three different colours, were stretched around the pillars, dominating the space, and looked amazing. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Why was an office being wrapped up in plastic? Good question. I’d accidentally gotten involved in putting on some art exhibitions, liked it, and this had developed into the laex project (laex.co.uk). The project involved promoting new artists through various means. One of the means was developing a brand of silk scarves with the work of an artist printed on it, with 10% of the retails price going to the artist and a tree being planted for each one. The idea being, if you want to by this scarf you have to buy the artist lunch and plant a tree. It had an attitude. And an idea for promoting the project was to turn a working office into a gallery. I’d read about the positive effects of art in the workplace and thought it was a good way to approach the project.
In his numerous studies on well-being in the office, Dr Craig Knight, of Exeter University (2015) and his colleagues found that work environments that were decorated by plants and art made for a 15% increase in productivity. Similarly, a study by The British Council for Offices (2012) found that 93.8 % of employees said that art makes the work place feel more welcoming. That was all the excuse I needed.
I wanted to do more than just put paintings on the wall, and since New Zealand house doesn’t have many walls, lots of glass and structural columns but not so many walls, we ( I say we because we never really do anything alone) had to come up with another angle.
Enter Jez Prior. I’d worked with Jez a few times already, he’s one of my favourite artists. He was the lead artist as I explored what the project was and most of the leax web sites gallery is dedicated to him (http://laex.co.uk/gallery/ ). A very experimental artist, he explores perspectives and mediums and likes to play with materials outside of their normal use, including cling film and palette wrap.