This June will see Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne transformed by acclaimed UK-based German artist Lothar Götz into a large-scale, colourful geometric mural. Götz was chosen from 60 artists and designers from an open call for The Brewers Towner Commission to create an artwork to mark the 10th anniversary of the gallery’s move from its original home in Eastbourne’s Old Town. Drawing on its architecture, Götz’s mural – his largest to date –will envelop the award-winning building for one year. We sat down with Lothar to hear more about this remarkable commission.
You’ve had notable commissions at Southbank Centre, Pallant House and Leeds Art Gallery to name but a few – how do you approach different architectural spaces?
Each response to an architectural space starts with a conversation with the space. A bit like a question and answer scenario with me asking the questions and the building giving answers. Depending on the answers from the building is the response it will get from myself. Different aspects like the architectural language, geometry or dimensions of a space are important factors but also its social character, daily use and audience or history.
This is the 10th anniversary of the Towner Art Gallery building and your biggest commission yet, this must be a very exciting time for you. What is the process for this kind of commission? What has struck you so far about the space and Eastbourne?
The opportunity to paint the entire outside wall space of Towner Art Gallery and thus turning the entire building into an artwork is indeed extremely exciting. The painting will turn the building into a kind of public installation / sculpture in the town of Eastbourne, highly visible from many different perspectives. During my first visit to Eastbourne I was particularly struck by the architectural ensemble of the Towner and its adjacent buildings with a fascinating richness of diverse architectural styles and histories. The complexity and energy of Towner’s facade is really striking.
A national company founded and based in Eastbourne, Brewers, is supplying the paint – is this significant? What will be the process of picking the colours?
First a big Thank You to Brewers for doing so, it is of course significant in the way that I will not have to consider budget restrictions in terms of the amount of paint I will need but can fully concentrate on my artistic vision. A sponsorship like this frees up a whole range of ideas and possibilities. I have used paint from Brewers for many projects in the past and are familiar with the products they sell. The process of picking the colours always starts in the second phase of the design process after most formal questions are solved through sketching. Moving on from a more general idea about the colour decisions in preliminary sketches, these are getting finetuned from choosing the final colours out of comprehensive colour charts like the Natural Color System, RAL or British Standard. Brewers will then be able to mix all colours accordingly.
What do you hope for people to take away once the work is in situ in June?
One of the most exciting things with commissions for artworks in the public domain is its visibility and access to the wider public and not just to visitors of a museum or gallery. Painting the outside of Towner Art Gallery brings art to the street and into the city. It will be seen by a huge variety of people and I do very much hope most of them will enjoy the painting and make them curious about what’s inside. To me it feels a bit like dressing up the Towner for a party.
You have a number of exhibitions opening in Germany – can you tell us more? How is the approach different with gallery shows?
My current show ‘If Only’ has just opened at Petra Rinck Gallery in Düsseldorf and there is another wall painting project coming up with the Overbeck Gesellschaft / Kunstverein in Lübeck in May. The main difference between a gallery show and a site specific project is probably that one consists of a variety of works in different mediums and sizes produced over a period of time and afterwards put together for an exhibition, whereas a work like the one for Towner Art Gallery is developed for the particular site and will only exist in conjunction with the building and has a temporary life.
Image: Lothar Götz in front of his installation at The MAC Belfast, 2013. Photo: Jordan Hutchins.