This week, Creative Boom is launching a billboard campaign across Manchester to remind us to look after our mental health. Collaborating with artist, designer and curator Micah Purnell as part of his Add-Art scheme, the giant posters feature artworks by leading illustrators Fuchsia MacAree and Murugiah.
On display at Oldham Road in Ancoats and on the corner of Chester Street and Oxford Road, the huge billboards look out over Manchester city centre to hit home the importance of rest. Each of the posters is available to purchase as A3-sized prints in Creative Boom's shop, with half of the profits going to each artist and 10% of our own portion donated to Create, the UK's leading charity empowering lives through the creative arts.
The first artwork is by Fuchsia MacAree, an award-winning Dublin-based illustrator whose clients include Google, Facebook, and Airbnb. For Creative Boom, Fuchsia created I Feel Tender Toward The World, reminding us to enjoy calm. "In making this piece, I was thinking about mindfulness and being present in the moment, and noticing small changes of light around me," she explains. "Observational drawing feels therapeutic, so taking some time to focus on a small detail, like the refraction of light in a glass of flowers, felt like an exercise in mindfulness in itself! The line is from The Country Girls by Edna O'Brien. It makes me think of being in those fleeting frames of mind where the world is exciting and new, and normal objects take on an otherworldly quality."
Award-winning artist and designer Murugiah is behind the second artwork. Based in London, born and raised in the UK with Sri Lankan heritage, he describes his style as "surreal, joyful and loud" and uses bright and bold colours along with detailed compositions to bring us art that is psychedelic, explosive and out of this world. His piece is titled Sleep and features Murugiah's little character called MURU. "In this chaotic world we live in where everything, everywhere all at once comes at us daily, the idea of taking a break can even be daunting," says Murugiah.
"Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to recharge and improve our mental and physical health. So I hope in picking up a copy of 'sleep' fans can hang the print up to remind them to rest, take a break, relax and eventually get some sleep."
Micah Purnell, whose clients include The Guardian, Elbow and the NHS, approached Creative Boom earlier this year to suggest the campaign. The award-winning artist and designer, renowned for his kaleidoscopic typographic work that took over Wembley Park during the Euros, curates the self-funded Add-Art project to spread positivity. "My own art centres a lot around self-worth and rest, so the two pieces by Fuchsia MacAree and Murugiah seemed ideal messages for the initiative and today's uncertain times," says Micah. "I hope that the work blesses those that see them."
Add-Art is a monthly curated outdoor gallery initiative with two sites in Manchester and more on the horizon. Its purpose is to celebrate artists and bring art to the streets with access for all. "They create breathing space for our eyes and provide solace, beauty and joy for our tender souls," explains Micah. "A long time ago, I realised that the humanities are hidden behind the walls of universities, galleries and faith spaces, and commercial goals have a monopoly on our public aesthetics. I thought it was about time we started to reverse the trend."
Add-Art, which has exhibited artworks by Matt Blease, The Fandango Kid and Anthony Burrill, is looking for new sites to grow the project nationally. To support the scheme, go to Patreon. If you're interested in adding a gallery to your building, email [email protected].