Ian Kirkpatrick is a contemporary artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in Leeds, UK. His colorful works have gained International recognition. Utilizing a deep palette of substrates for his works, the artist often features cardboard, Dibond aluminum composite and stainless steel. For his latest work entitled ‘Crossroads’ the artist was commissioned to design a mural for Middlesbrough on the south bank of the River Tees in northeastern England.
The area has a very rich human history, one in which Kirkpatrick researched dating back to ancient times. The artist describes, “Using research into the area’s past and present, I have designed a series of colorful infographics that bring together elements of Middlesbrough’s past and present, while imagining its future.”
The mural serves as a chronological history of the town’s evolution. The River Tees runs through the entirety of the work showcasing the fluidity of the town from its stone-age community to its presence as a medieval farming village. The town, founded in 1830, then became a major industrial manufacturing community. The artist then focuses on an image of Middlesbrough in the “near future” as he describes. Utilizing archival images, the piece exhibits a number of historical references and city landmarks, some of which no longer exist.
The mural was commissioned by the Festival of Thrift and required sustainability and ecological responsibility be major themes of the work. With a rich history of human evolution, the mural showcases the effects of industrialization on the town’s landscape and pushes or imagines a reduction of that impact in the future.
Kirkpatrick explains, “The futuristic area of the mural (to the right of the Transporter Bridge) shows both existing and potential forms of green and renewable energy—while also alluding to the thriving community that will support it.”
Kirkpatrick’s works have a common theme with the utilization of historic or mythical subjects and context. For this, Middlesbrough fit quite perfectly with his signature style as the town is often compared to ‘an infant Hercules.’ With this insight, the artist incorporated myths of Hercules throughout the piece with one central image of the Greek god on the Transporter Bridge. Kirkpatrick describes, “The pose is taken from Annibale Carracci’s painting of ‘Hercules at the Crossroads’ where the hero makes an important decision about his fate. I selected this image as a metaphor for the changes Middlesbrough is undertaking in order to become a thriving, sustainable city of the future.”
The 8-foot by 180-foot mural was constructed uses Dibond aluminum composite material.
all information and photography courtesy of ©Ian Kirkpatrick