Gatwick Airport has unveiled a series of new murals by the British Pop artist, Sir Peter Blake. The paintings were created as a body of work that celebrates all that is great about the city and will provide a warm welcome to visitors. The ‘London’ collection installed in both Gatwick’s North and South terminals, depicts the city through the ages, including iconic buildings and locations, and capturing London’s cosmopolitan and multicultural spirit. This is a permanent installation at Gatwick, designed to continue the legacy of ‘Brand Britain’ and inspire the British public for many years to come.
Each terminal will feature 12 pieces in total. ‘Teaser’ vinyls run along the piers allowing passengers to become immersed in the artwork from the moment they step off the plane right through to the time they reach the baggage halls in the North and South Terminals where they will see the on canvass collection. The whole display was curated by CCA Galleries, one of the major galleries with whom Sir Peter Blake has been collaborating with over the past decade.
This initiative was inspired by insights from the Airport Passenger Panel and Gatwick’s own passengers who strongly felt that UK airports need a ‘heart and soul’, and to give visitors, or people returning home after holidays, a real sense of arrival in Britain.
Sir Peter Blake, a grandee of British Art, commented: “This project instantly captured my imagination – a chance to showcase London to an international public and to remind Brits how great it is to be back on British soil. I hope it will provide a sense of welcome and that everyone who travels through Gatwick will share my love for both art and London and that they are able to relate to these pieces in some way.”
Gatwick Airport’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, commented: “After listening to passengers, we felt it was time to inject more life and colour into the airport and bring to life the vibrancy and dynamism of the main city we’re a gateway to – London. And who better to take on the challenge than Sir Peter Blake, a British icon in his own right. We can’t wait to see passenger reactions as they travel through arrivals.”
Gatwick is committed to delivering the best airport experience for its passengers. This latest collaboration with Sir Peter Blake is in addition to the airport’s ongoing multimillion pound investment programme that aims to improve airport services and facilities to make the experience as enjoyable stress-free as possible for all passengers.
Sir Peter Blake was born in Dartford, Kent in 1932 and studied initially at Gravesend Technical College from 1949-51. After a period of national service in the Royal Air Force, Blake attended the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1956. Upon graduation he won the Leverhulme Research Award to study popular art, this allowed him to travel and study folk art in countries such as Belgium, France, Italy and Spain: his grand tour. It was around the period of his return to the UK that Blake’s style evolved from the classical naturalistic oil works of his early period to the collaged works containing images of movie stars, musicians and pin-up girls that we most readily associate him with (however, Blake as always retained the naturalistic strain of his work and has continued to work in oil on canvas throughout his career).
During the 1960s and 70s Blake taught at various institutions such as St. Martins School of Art, Harrow School of Art, Walthamstow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He also exhibited his work in many individual and group shows during this period, both domestically and internationally. In 1961 Blake won the John Moores Award for his work Self Portrait with Badges, and was also featured in Ken Russell’s BBC film on Pop Art ‘Pop Goes the Easel’, which first brought him to wide popular attention. In 1969 Blake left London to live in the West country where he was a founding member of the Brotherhood of Ruralists in 1975. He continued to live near Bristol until 1979 and during this period his work moved away from the glossy commercial pop art for which he is most celebrated and focussed on literary and rural subjects in oil. He is perhaps best known for his design of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover and inserts.