Westway is a 3.5-mile long elevated section of the A40 trunk road in west London, running from Paddington to North Kensington.
An unlikely setting for a work of art, you may feel.
Yet, below the Westway, is the Brunel Mural by Robert Dawson, completed in 2014, which charts Paddington’s industrial heritage, medical and scientific pioneers, engineering and military history, royal, stage and literary connections.
The fruit of the long association between ceramic mural experts Sadler Green and ceramicist Robert Dawson, the commission was to create a wall mural for a pedestrian and cycle crossing under the Westway located opposite the entrance to the new Street Sweepers depot at the intersection with Harrow Road.
Dawson created the artwork in consultation with local residents and organisations, including Paddington Waterways, Active Concern on Transport and SE Bayswater Residents Association. The final piece of public artwork reflected the history and the nature of the regeneration of the area.
At Tile Addict followers will be aware, I am a huge fan of Robert Dawson. Of all the artists working in tile today, Dawson seems to understand the medium in greater depth, and this his skillful and mischievous approach to the medium, captured in his moniker of Aesthetic Sabotage, makes his work visually striking, thought provoking and intrinsically interesting.
Dawson’s Westway mural combines a mixture of locally significant historical references, including a portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, within a skillfully interrelated and overlaid composition. It also reflects the continual process of change in the local area by including, for example, a geometric pattern based on the CrossRail logo and historical scenes of the local area.
The composition of the artwork was formed by using square tiles finished in a range of blue tones, with details within the design, such as the chemical structure drawing for penicillin picked out in white, along the lines of delftware porcelain. Additionally, the mural is further enhanced by subtle lighting provided by a concealed strip light already installed during construction work for the depot. To ensure the longevity of the mural and to protect the surface, the artwork has been coated in an anti-graffiti finish.
The moral was produced by Sadler Green: noted manufacturers of custom ceramic tile murals and memorial photo plaques. Sadler Green have a particular genius for taking digital or original images to create a transfer using the latest digital ceramic printing technology. The morals are kiln fired up to 900°C, to provide a scratch-proof and fade-resistant finish of excellent quality.
As Xerital Limited, the business initially focused on the conversion of laser printers for ceramic printing and the sale of consumables for the digital ceramic printing process. The business then developed into the printing and supply of digital ceramic transfers for a wide range of clients including sanitary-ware manufacturers, ceramic giftware producers and art students specialising in ceramics or glass as an art form.
In 2008 the company launched a new website FotoCeramic.com to allow clients to upload their images via the internet, for processing into ceramic transfers.
As a result, in 2012, the company won a commission to produce the transfers for a large format ceramic tile mural at Glasgow Hillhead Subway Station. Further work has followed including ceramic tile murals in Glasgow Western Baths, Liverpool Dementia Centre, and an underpass in Paddington.
It was through the success of these latter two ventures that Sadler Green was born, offering both ceramic tile murals and porcelain photo plaques to a wider client base.
Sadler Green is named in homage to John Sadler and Guy Green, two pioneers in the ceramic printing process. Their decorated ceramic tiles are highly collectable and examples can be found at the Victoria and Albert Collection in London.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, May 2017.