Wondering what those new colourful designs are, and why they’re hanging nine-and-a-half metres above Aylestone Hill?
Here’s a quick explainer on the project by world-famous artist Lothar Götz.
What is it?
Two of the biggest pieces of public art ever displayed in Herefordshire. And the first piece of art from a world-renowned artist that you can see from the drive-thru queue at KFC.
Hereford is undergoing a change. The city has a plan to become a greener, more creative, high-skilled city. This artwork is a big, bold punctuation mark for that plan – bracketing the walls of a new accommodation block, built to house a growing population of university-level art, design and engineering students in the city.
Most people walk out of stations like ours and immediately think about getting into the city centre. The artist – Lothar Gotz – said he wanted to make the space something that catches the eye, and a reason to stop before they do.
Along with a series of flags designed by the artist, the idea is that this is a bold, bonus artwork for everyone – commuters, visitors, students, shoppers, nurses, posties, kids on the school run, Deliveroo riders on a KFC pick-up.
“I do very much hope that it adds something that wasn’t there before,” Götz said. “You don’t know which reactions might come. But I very much hope that it in some way enriches lives.
“I don’t like the political aspect of flags, holding the flag as a symbol of something – I’m a bit on edge with that. It can twist quite quickly. What I like with flags is abstraction. In Hereford it’s more of a kind of celebratory moment.
“For that location it [captures] exactly that moment when you drive into a city.”
What is it?
Why does it matter?
Studies have shown that public art does – as Lothar said – enrich communities.
Recent research has shown access to art and culture has been shown to be one of the most powerful ways to improve wellbeing. And public art means that access can be out of a car window, or on the walk to work. You don’t need a gallery ticket or an afternoon off to improve your day a little.
More than that, art sparks change. Studies have shown that young people from low income families who take part in arts activities are three times more likely to get a degree. Secondary school students who engage with arts and culture are twice as likely to volunteer in their community. The creative industries are among the fastest-growing sectors in the UK economy. Hereford needs to become a more creative city, and an eye-catching, contemporary billboard to creativity and colour might just help spark a change in a few young lives.
Arts and culture were a part of almost half of the all the tourist trips to the UK. Creativity, individuality and art are a big part of why people visit a place. Lothar’s work winks at tourists the second they leave the station, and waves to them on the way home. Investing in art that isn’t hidden away in a gallery means that you get to make it a part of your city’s identity.
And that isn’t just for tourists. We have just come out of a few years where we each became more acquainted with our own neighbourhoods than we ever thought we would. Public art is a reason not to lose that connection. It’s a reason to look up occasionally.
Why does it matter?
Who is Lothar Götz?
A London-based, Bauhaus-inspired master of colour and geometry, Lothar’s work ranges from notepad sized prints to takeovers of entire galleries. The outside of them.
He might be best known for turning the exterior walls of one of the UK’s top galleries into one big, beautiful refracted rainbow, but even in his more human-scale shows, Götz is able to play with lines and context in a way that would be the envy of any architect.
“In previous interviews I’ve talked a lot about architecture. I’m also inspired by wall paintings, lots of things that are often from my childhood. I’m a big fan of disco balls and all their glimmering light. I’ve lived in London for more than 20 years. I really do love big cities because I love going around in the evening seeing all the lights. I’m not doing it very often any longer, [but]I really enjoyed going clubbing for many years, and I do really like the lights in discos or in clubs.
I’m always excited when flowers come out. I do believe that nature is fantastic. I don’t paint a landscape, but I think the way of looking at a landscape does inform my work.”
You can follow Lothar on Instagram here for a regular dose of colour in your feed.
This installation is just the first in a series of four years’ of public art based in and around No.1 Station Approach. Supported by the Stronger Towns Fund and curated by the brilliant Meadow Arts, this project will see four top UK-based artists invited to do something with the space.
Lothar’s work will be in place throughout the summer and into the autumn, when work on the second commission will start. The next creative partnership at Station Approach will be announced later this summer – but it features a truly exciting artist, who’s past work has included sculpture and installation across a jaw-dropping range of materials.
We can’t wait to see what they produce in response to this site.