How Good Wives and Warriors created the people's painting

Fresh from the scene of their latest masterpiece – a three storey mural in Glasgow to celebrate the Commonwealth Games – illustrative tour de force Good Wives and Warriors tell us how it was done, and how they felt about being followed by a BBC camera crew throughout...

How did the project come about?

We were approached by the BBC a few months ago. They had chosen our work out of a selection of proposed artists with links to Glasgow. When we learned what the project would entail, we were thrilled.

What was the brief?

The brief was to make a large-scale mural to commemorate the spirit of Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games. The rough remit was to draw together the spirit and cultural side of the city alongside the games in one big celebration, and we opened up the question: 'What is the spirit of Glasgow?' to the residents. It became the People's Painting because it was about their thoughts, feelings and ideas.

The thoughts and feelings of Glaswegians were painted into the mural

The thoughts and feelings of Glaswegians were painted into the mural

What did you want to achieve?

We were very aware that it was going to exist long-term in a residential area and would be experienced by a large number of people on a daily basis. We wanted to make it accessible and interesting, as well as beautiful and visually uplifting.

How much preparation did you do?

Typically we have a concentrated research stage where we gather as many images relating to the topic as possible, print them out and then work in an intuitive, haphazard way. For this project, the scale, timeframe and scaffolding meant we had to prepare a detailed composition drawing and plan. We then scaled up the wall and started in the middle of the top section – mostly for the visual impact on camera!

How did you feel about having a BBC camera crew capturing everything?

Being filmed will always be a strange experience, especially as we are quite shy and introverted. That said, Kath the filmmaker was very sweet and made us laugh, so we didn't feel too uncomfortable.

What's the worst thing that could have happened – and the most exciting?

The worst for us would have been a negative response from local residents. Luckily they were mostly very nice.

And we both loved being up scaffolding all day – even if we were a bit rubbish at wearing our hard hats!

Is it your most ambitious mural to date?

We would never classify our paintings as murals – we make wall paintings or painted installations – because our work doesn't touch on the social, political and historical language of mural painting. But for this project it was very much a mural painting, so by default our most ambitious!

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 230.

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