2 Preparatory sketches for ‘The Golden City’
A commission from the BAA Art programme
Gouache on paper 1994
In May 1994, the worlds largest commercial operator of airports, BAA plc, launched a different type of programme – an art programme – to enhance passenger, staff and business partner experience of all its airport environments and develop an art collection of national merit.
“I want to emphasise the importance of first impressions and the need to give our visitors a strong sense of Britain’s energy as soon as they arrive. That could be done if we used our airports, train links and ports as opportunities to give a fresh impression. BAA is determined to champion British artists at its airports.”
Tony Blair, Prime Minister.
Steven was approached to come up with an idea for a large painting for Glasgow Airport and the following is his own description as it appeared in the catalogue for BAA art programme: Art at the Airports.
“This painting is made up of three views of the City of Glasgow: the Clyde Estuary; the view from the countryside; a view from the University Tower.
The symbolism of the painting centres around the story of the emblem of Glasgow. It also takes account of St Mungo’s stories, trying to give history a vision. I’ve aimed to get the balance between nature and the city; the ‘Dear Green Place’, idea.
It’s been tempting to add something dramatic, but it would have been the wrong thing to do for the location. It’s not the place to be dark and moody. No way. I want people to be uplifted; invigorated. I love Glasgow!”
The two sketches shown here both feature fritillaries which are a nod to Mackintosh but also to the fact that they grew wild in the ground surrounding our farmhouse in the Fintry hills. The signpost was a leitmotif in Steven’s earlier work based around his invented character Hunt and often depicted Oxford to Salisbury, but in this case shows directions to areas surrounding our then home. The background hills are the view that Steven often painted and form part of the vista that can be seen from our Kippen home.