At Cevisama 2009, Ceracasa exhibited the fruits of its creative collaboration with the English photographic artist, Michael Banks. More than 90 of Banks’ images were translated in ceramic tiles using Ceracasa’s Emotile digital printing initiative. These images, essentially digitally-manipulated natural snapshots, can be used in a variety of projects, from feature walls in bars or hotel lobbies, to more domestic settings.
This is not the first time that Banks’ abstract photo-art has led to international collaboration. He has worked with leading architects, interior designers and galleries, with his art being specified for high-profile international hospitality, corporate and private interiors. His client list is a ‘who’s who’ of PLCs and hotel chains spanning the UK, Europe, USA, the Middle and Far East, as well as a select group of internationally recognised private collectors. He has decorated hotels such as the prestigious Olivia Plaza in Barcelona. In Dubai, he is currently working on designs for hotel headboards using Emotile, as well as a variety of tile-based design projects in the USA.
Banks has also worked with a variety of top manufacturers and retailers, including Ikea, Formica and Benetton. His appeal lies in his ability to manipulate images to offer textures and colours that both decorate and resonate more deeply with the observer. This new collection builds on Banks’ impressive track record and demonstrates how the artist has clearly responded to the creative freedom offered by Emotile.
Formerly trained, Banks completed his MA at the Academia di Bella Arte in Florence, Italy and then spent many years working as an advertising and design photographer before switching his focus to fine art. In recent years he has exhibited in galleries from Cork Street to the fashionable East End of London. He now lives and works from his studio in Barcelona.
His images are graphic, abstract, and highly contemporary, and flout the normal preconceptions that one brings to photography as a representational art form. Liberal use is made of blurred and indistinct forms and abstract structures, forcing the viewer to focus on the fact that often there is no focus and the real world is not evident. His work fudges the photography/painting boundary and creates a dynamic and alternative vision to more traditional forms of artwork.
For Ceracasa, Banks’ photographs encompass a wide range of subjects. These include moonlight, palm trees and water. All the subjects are unified by their embodiment of environmental sensitivity and harmony – Gaia.
Banks’ works with form, colour and composition. Sometimes, he digitally manipulates his photographs (as in this collection) while, at other times, his art comprises pure photography.
“I explore the abstract,” explains Banks. “I look to displace my interior world towards the exterior, and to create images, worlds and sensibilities that do not need to be attached to reality.”
Regarding his collaboration with Ceracasa, Banks says: “The need to explore new mediums, with a device that is rigid and lasting like Emotile has sparked me with new creativity. The creative freedom, and the way my images can now interact on floors and walls, are quite fantastic.”
The Emotile project followed a chance meeting with a representative from Ceracasa. This Spanish manufacturer is fast-developing a reputation as one of the world’s most forward thinking tile companies. Having grasped Emotile’s almost unlimited potential, Banks started to think about ways he could present his work on a much larger scale than is usually possible with other materials.
The resulting collection illustrates the power and versatility of digital printing. This allows the manufacturer to create virtually any surface pattern on ceramic tile. The introduction of complete edge-to-edge printing of digital images onto tile, with glazes that will not fade, has allowed Ceracasa to make its mark on the architecture and interior design community. Tiles can now be printed with oversized florals to wrap round a buildings’ façade or portraits of family members for the kitchen wall.
While the existing range of stock photography can be supplemented with any high resolution digital image, making it easy for designers to achieve any look they desire, Banks’ range is something special. 90 core images by the artist feature in the Organic and Abstract collections. They can be digitally manipulated before being printed onto tiles allowing the ultimate in flexibility.
For instance, each single image can be repeated on individual porcelain tiles or can be stretched and mapped over a whole wall or floor. To ensure that the designer or specifier gets the desired look, the tiles are available in a range of different finishes including polished, satin, matt and non-slip.
This article first appeared in Tile & Stone Journal, May 2009