ArtHouse Jersey’s large-scale public artwork is now complete. Measuring 600 sq/m, it is one of the largest murals in Europe.
Titled ‘Home’ the work has now completely transformed the façade of the iconic Normans builders merchants. The mural, produced in partnership between ArtHouse Jersey and UK-based street art organisation Wood Street Walls, was officially recognised and welcomed to the Island by the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey Sir Stephen Dalton & Lady Dalton at an ‘unveiling’ ceremony in front of Normans.
Covering the frontage of the Normans building (owned by Columbia Estates), the mural has been created by celebrated artist Gabriel Pitcher, who ArtHouse Jersey selected following a callout to international street artists. The arts charity was seeking an artist who was familiar with socially engaged themes who could create something that spoke to the experience of modern multicultural Jersey. Pitcher and Wood Street Walls were offered the support of local artists Ben Robertson, James Carter, Kirsty Garcia and Olivia Garcia, all of whom contributed their talents to its production.
Using the space as a giant canvas, the work is inspired by ArtHouse Jersey’s ‘Home’ residency which explored our Polish, Portuguese and Romanian communities’ experience of moving to and living here in Jersey. The ‘Home’ mural is a contemplation of a selection of Jersey’s immigrant communities’ contribution to Island life, and the modern, multicultural place that we all call home.
The image depicts a celebration
The artwork depicts an image of a celebration. A celebration of the attitude of a resilient demographic who are hard-working and investing in a brighter future whilst remaining optimistic.
The joyful celebration of composition of seven people of Madeiran, Polish and Romanian around a table, depicts a less than ideal and slightly claustrophobic atmosphere and surroundings. The image aims to give insight into the sacrifices so many people choose to make in order to make Jersey their home. With objects on the table such as sweets, and regional delicacies, including a birthday cake with 7 candles, it can be interpreted as either a celebration of a year closer to being ‘fully qualified’ (meaning the housing market is one year closer), or a reflection of the experience of the many people who left their children in their home countries to be raised by relatives, leaving the audience to decide.
Artist Gabriel Pitcher said “One of the core learnings which remained with me was the idea that some accommodation tied to jobs in the unqualified years had stipulations like no children or no pets. It really stuck because it meant for many people a consideration of accepting a job, was whether or not to start a family, or even live a separated life from their children for up to a decade.
The image of a kids birthday party but having no children present really stuck with me as a powerful image many have to face.
Although the wall is large, I have tried to make the space they are in feel claustrophobic, a reflection of the serviced rooms and bedsits people live in, but also a comment on the fact that Jersey is a small island. Space is limited and the freedom to live in a comfortable space is quickly vanishing for all, as the housing market becomes out of reach for many.
I have enjoyed visiting Jersey over the last six months, meeting both some amazing people on the Island, collaborating and listening to the stories of the output of Cliff, Dana and Natalia (Home residency artists), as well as visiting the home where my father spent his early years with my grandparents after the war.”
Partnership with Wood Street Walls
This large-scale mural is produced in partnership with Wood Street Walls CIC, who have created murals across the world with renowned artists in support of not for profits and local community. Wood Street Walls aim to make art accessible through the creation and installation of outdoor public art, and as such were natural partners for this project.
Wood Street Walls co-founder Mark Clack said “Since this project was first discussed with ArtHouse Jersey nearly three years ago, our organisation has started to understand the different communities and dynamics that exist on the Island, as well as the significant creative talent within Jersey. We would like to publicly thank Olivia Garcia, Kirsty Garcia, James Carter and Ben Robertson who have all positively contributed to bringing this mural to life – we look forward to this being the start of an ongoing relationship for projects in the future.
“We have been made to feel welcome in Jersey and Gabriel’s concept would not be possible to without the figures in the image, Irina Chiper, Andreea Ghisisoi, Mariusz Kopacz, Esther Melon, Conceciao Vargem, Carina Alves and Nadia Rosa Vieria, and the people who let their home to be used for the reference image the mural has been composed.”
Director of ArtHouse Jersey Tom Dingle said “Pieces of art in the public realm, like this mural, play an important role in strengthening a sense of place and belonging. ‘Home’ reaches under the surface of the assumptions that might be made about people’s experiences who have moved to Jersey from abroad and does so with transparency and honesty.
“Although immediately pleasing to the eye, it isn’t afraid to highlight what might be lacking in what the Island has to offer immigrants, and the sacrifices people are willing to make to call Jersey ‘Home’. We’re delighted that this work now resides in one of the most prominent thoroughfares in the Island – at Normans – and that it will be in place to spark discussion for 18 months. Our sincere thanks go to Garbiel Pitcher for so elegantly and skilfully telling this story and creating this incredible piece of work.”
Operations Director of Normans, Tim Darwin said: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to provide the canvas for this wonderful project and to have worked closely with all of these talented artists. Normans has been a part of Jersey life since 1840, and we are proud to be associated with an initiative that celebrates the huge contribution that all of Jersey’s immigrant communities’ have contributed to the Island”.
All images, credit Max Burnett for ArtHouse Jersey.