A Subjective Mix

Site-specific Installation (wood, wallpaper)

1000cm (L) x 3500cm (H) x 1000cm (W)

Liz West’s collaboration with leading wall coverings company Graham & Brown has inspired a large-scale optical installation to appear in Blackburn’s former Cotton Exchange, commissioned by Deco Publique and Super Slow Way for Art in Manufacturing, part of The National Festival of Making.

In the faded splendour of Blackburn’s Cotton Exchange, amid the light pouring in from the stained glass windows, a 3.5 metre high, octagonal structure tricks the eye. Appearances are purposely deceiving as the structure, clad in bespoke wallpaper, purports to be one colour, when it is really the sum of its multi-hued parts, a fact revealed as visitors move towards and inside the piece.

The standard test for superior shade discretion, the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Colour Vision Test, is essential to Graham & Brown, with specialist staff requiring a superior score. After taking the test, and achieving superior colour vision, the artist took new ideas and long-term ambitions inspired by Josef Albers 1963 book, Interaction of Colour, to the drawing board and, after taking colour samples from the Cotton Exchange’s windows, took five pens at a time in her hand and ‘drew’ coloured dots on white paper. Testing build ups of different combinations of colours, West eventually hit on the colour she had in mind – a true grey, only determinable from distance. Observing the repeated octagons in the Cotton Exchange’s ceiling design, the half octagons of the window bays and the octagonal shape of the foyer the shape of the final installation was determined by the building itself.

A Subjective Mix, a newly commissioned work by Liz West was open at The Cotton Exchange on 12 and 13 May 2018.

Photographs © Gu