Construction is an art form

9 March 2012

For a new perspective on the art of construction, Londoners can visit an exhibition of paintings documenting the construction of Glasgow's new Riverside Museum of Transport.

Scottish artist Patricia Cain's Drawing (on) Riverside show at the Eleven Spitalfields gallery near Brick Lane,  offers a rich record of the construction process over nearly four years. The  £70m building opened in the summer.

Cain, who trained as a lawyer before becoming a full-time artist and completing a PhD at the Glasgow School of Art, worked closely with main contractor BAM Construct to coordinate her visits.

She produced over 100 highly detailed paintings, drawings and sculptures, highlighting different phases of construction and also explores the project’s historical connections.

The Zaha Hadid-designed museum was built on the site of former shipyard, and Cain's work draws on the similarities between the site's historic function and    the evolving steel structure.  “I was struck that the structures I saw in old photographs were echoed in the modern structures on site," Cain told Construction Manager.

As a result of working so closely with the BAM team, she says that her art became about the process of construction rather than the building itself.
Cain says: ‘As a relative outsider I was given a real insight into the experience of what it’s like to be on site during the construction of a seminal public building. The BAM guys probably take it for granted, but the organisation of making a structure like this is like some complicated dance sequence. I came to appreciate how construction is all about management, being able to work with others and creating something through skill. there are a lot of similarities with the process of making art.”

Paul Jaffray, BAM’s project manager for the Riverside Museum project, added: “BAM allowed Patricia unprecedented access to the construction site throughout the build process which was vital to allow her to capture the structure in its raw sate. I know Patricia acknowledges that the flexibility shown by BAM enabled her to produce her amazing work. It’s a great pleasure for us to see something that means so much to us represented in this way.”

The exhibition runs from March 9 to April 29 and can be visited by appointment.

Riverside Framework (2009) 122cm x 91.5 Pastel and Acrylic

Inscape III (2008) 105cm x 170cm Pastel

Arena (2012) 60.5cm x 84cm Pastel

Little Ruin (2011) 26cm x 31cm Oil

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