Ian Kirkpatrick – Crossroads

Ian Kirkpatrick – Crossroads

Ian’s work is inspired by the history of art and design, from ancient cave art and Greek amphorae, to graffiti and computer graphics.  He creates his work in response to current political and social themes, using the bright colours and bold iconography of graphic design as a means to capture attention and engage audiences – often in non-traditional settings such as marketplaces, shopping centres and gift stores. His work adopts the strategies and materials of consumer design as a means to critique Western capitalism and initiate new conversations about pressing global issues such as migration, climate change and war.  He creates his work digitally, then manufacture it out of industrial materials including stainless steel, vinyl, corrugated cardboard, Perspex and Dibond.

Ian’s art has been exhibited across the UK and internationally, with shows in New York, Chicago, Montreal, Berlin, Munich and London.  He has produced commissions for the London 2012 Olympics, the Tour de France, and the Oxford Museum of Natural History.  Ian recently completed public art commissions in Leeds, Amsterdam and Rotterdam.


Title: ‘Crossroads’ Bedford Place Mural  – written by Ian. 

This artwork presents a graphical narrative of human occupation in Middlesbrough since ancient times.   Using research into the area’s past and present, I have designed a series of colourful infographics that bring together elements of Middlesbrough’s past and present, while imagining its future.

A stylised representation of the River Tees runs along the entire artwork, leading the eye through the various stages of Middlesbrough’s evolution from stone age community, through to Medieval farming village, major industrial manufacturing town, and finally to a vision of Middlesbrough in the near future. I have incorporated references to many of the city’s landmarks (including some now vanished) along the course of the river, often based on archival images. Representations of the Transporter Bridge, the Tees Newport Bridge, Barnard Castle, the old (and new) Dock Clock Tower, the gantry crane, the Ship Inn and old ICI factories can be seen – along with many upcoming developments such as the Snow Centre and Teesamp, with its anaerobic digester.

As a Festival of Thrift commissioned artwork, one of the major themes that runs through the artwork is sustainability and ecological responsibility. The mural depicts the rise of human industry through time and its impact on the landscape  – and envisions a future where this impact is minimised. The futuristic area of the mural (to the right of the Transporter Bridge) shows both existing and potential forms of green and renewable energy – while also alluding to the thriving community that will support it.   I have depicted a community where living and working happens in close proximity, generating a thriving city centre.  The Orange Pip Market acts as the focus of this section of the mural, with depictions of local produce and responsible recycling of waste.

My artworks often remix historical imagery with mythical subjects – and here I was particularly interested in Middlesbrough’s comparison to ‘an infant Hercules’.  Images from the myths of Hercules have been incorporated throughout the artwork – including a central image of Hercules on the Transporter Bridge (which will be located at the bend in the mural).  The pose is taken from Annibale Carracci’s painting of “Hercules at the Crossroads” where the hero makes an important decision about his fate.  I selected this image as a metaphor for the changes Middlesbrough is undertaking in order to become a thriving, sustainable City of the future.

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