Anthony Burrill’s Love, Hope & Joy has transformed the façade of one of the buildings overlooking Covent Garden Piazza into an enormous artwork. The artist hopes that for Londoners emerging from lockdown into a city just starting to come back to life it’s a welcome message of joy and positivity. The artwork will be on display until October and is part of a series of moments to welcome back visitors to Covent Garden and to thank NHS workers for the difficult work they continue to do helping to combat Covid-19. Limited edition signed and numbered prints of the artwork are also available from Anthony Burrill’s website with proceeds going to NHS Charities Together.
How did you get involved in the Covent Garden Project?
I was recommended for the project by Holly Wood from Wood Society of the Arts. Holly works with artists on creative projects for brands. As soon as Holly mentioned the potential project, I was excited by the possibility. It isn’t every day you get asked to make a four-storey high artwork to be displayed in central London. We chatted about what the work might say and it became clear that we wanted to say something positive and life affirming. It’s a simple reminder about the positive human qualities that we need so much now.
How does it feel to have your art displayed at such a large scale in Covent Garden?
It is a real thrill to have my artwork displayed so prominently in such an amazing location. I’ve always loved Covent Garden, since coming to London as an art student in the 1980s. It was a place to meet friends, many of whom were studying at St Martins when it used to be located at Long Acre. One of my favourite places to meet people, especially visitors from overseas, is The Lamb and Flag just off Floral Street. It feels like a step back into atmospheric Dickensian London.
You have described the work as a love note – why was it important to you to project a feeling of positivity and care?
We’re living through a huge time of change where everything we thought was set in stone has changed. One constant throughout the past few months has been the need to connect with other people. We’ve seen this in the positive messages that people have displayed in their windows: simple gestures that speak of our shared hopes, recognition of the sacrifices that frontline workers have made and acknowledgement that we are all sharing a life-changing time together.
You mentioned that you were optimistic we’d all learn from the lockdown period. What have you learned during the last few months?
I’ve worked in my studio every day of lockdown. It’s been an intense time. I’ve worked on lots of fundraising projects, making prints available that people can buy and feel like they’re contributing. It’s been gratifying to see that the work I’ve always been involved in being used this way. I think I’ve learnt a lot about how people see my work and how it can be used to promote positivity.
Collaboration seems really important to you as an artist; why is that?
Everything I make is collaborative. I work with my good friends Steve and Tracey who are amazing screenprinters and Ian Foster at Adams of Rye to print letterpress typography. By learning from these people I have developed my own skills with typography and printing. Learning through making is the best way to pick up new techniques. I love exploring new ways of creating work, whether that’s using traditional crafts or digital technology.
You’ve worked with a lot of positive movements and charitable causes, is positivity and social conscience important to you and your work?
For my work as an artist to be relevant in 2020, it’s essential that I’m engaged with what’s happening in the world. As a creative, it’s my job to amplify and promote causes that I feel are important. I’ve got a decent following on social media and I think that gives me the responsibility to use it positively.
It feels like the arts have been particularly badly affected by the Covid-19 crisis, would you agree?
Yes, I agree. But I also think it’s given everyone an opportunity to re-asses their lives. Our way of life has been challenged to such a profound degree that we are being forced to change how we live. Nothing will be the same after 2020. I’m still hopeful that the outcome will be positive.
What can we do as consumers to support artists and the arts?
We all need creativity in our lives. I’ve watched more films and listened to more music than ever over the past few months than ever before. I think everyone has realised how much we need to experience other people’s view of the world through the arts. Support your favourite creatives by buying their work!
What does the rest of 2020 hold for you?
My new book Work Hard & Be Nice To People is published in August and I’m working with Extinction Rebellion on an exciting new project.
The Anthony Burrill art installation will be on show until October 2020. Limited edition installation prints are available from anthonyburrill.com/shop. For further information on this installation, the reopening of shops and restaurants within Covent Garden, or safety measures being undertaken in the area, visit coventgarden.london