A School is a Building Which has Four Walls with Tomorrow Inside
December 22 2015
Northampton School for Girls Centenary Painting. 1915 -2015.
A Lenticular Text Painting by Jamie Poole
Northampton School for Girls is one hundred years old. For a century the school has educated the girls of Northampton and the surrounding areas. I am really honoured to have had the privilege of making and artwork to commemorate this celebration.
I wanted to create an artwork that people could view as a physical experience. I know, as a teacher at the school, about the enthusiasm, energy, and many lessons that go on every day. I decided to create an artwork that would reflect the history and learning at the school using a lenticular format. This would mean that the image on the artwork would actually change as you passed it in the corridor, taking you from the past to the present. Below are the two images which I decided to use to make the piece.
Once I had the images and the idea to create this artwork I needed to decide what medium to use. Previously, I have made my larger artworks using printed words, to create the artwork; the words being significant in some way to the subject. For example, in a portrait of my wife, I used words from her favourite poems. For this painting, I decided to use the names from the register of girls present in the school in 1915, and from the 2015 register. Look closely, and you can see how names have changed! Below is the test piece I made to see if the ideas of a lenticular text ‘painting’ would work.
The next pictures show how the painting looks when the images are combined or mixed from a front view, rather than at an angle as in the previous photographs. In the second image a close up of the sample shows how the names of students have been used to make a portrait.
The inspiration for using words in this way originated from learning about the way the artist Chuck Close uses a grid of squares to help him create his super realist portraits. To make text paintings I divide the surface into 4cm squares and then produce a full size copy of the images I am working from, which are also squared. Then that is it, I am ready to go! The words are cut using scalpel blade and the different tones from the sheets are used to create the image square by square. The pictures below show the 2015 Orchestra before and after painting.
This painting has, as you can imagine been a massive undertaking. Every detail of the painting is made using the printed names of the students. The portraits take a particularly long time to create and each column of the lenticular support can take up to 3 hours to finish. This is easily the largest and most challenging work I have made to date, but the joy and excitement of seeing the painting appear is both rewarding and satisfying. It took three full time weeks to complete the 2015 orchestra and even longer to
complete the classroom of 1915. This has 21 portraits, some of which are tiny and require serious concentration to get each piece of paper in the correct position.
The images above show some of the detail in the artwork and how the strips of words are used to make the portraits in the painting. This particular portrait came to life after the highlights in the eyes were added to give a glint to her eyes. What strikes me about the girls in this picture is how they remind me so much of the students that I teach in art classes today. Also, I often wonder how many of those girls had fathers away fighting in the First World War and what they might have been thinking or feeling.