What gift do you give to someone who lives in Brighton and loves the cool vibe and creativity found in The Lanes and generally around this popular seaside destination? Well it must be a unique gift, for sure! And preferably something unique and quirky, like Brighton itself.
A Brighton landmark, recreated in unusual materials, was the idea that stuck. On a practical level, given the COVID-19 restrictions, the gift would need to be postable too.
Royal Pavilion recreated in art
I decided that the most iconic (and interesting) attraction in Brighton was probably the Royal Pavilion – that strangely exotic building with highly detailed minarets and domes that sits back from the seafront in the holiday resort. Developed for the son of George III, who became the Prince Regent in 1811, the Royal Pavilion grew from a modest building in 1787, being extended and remodelled over many years. Between 1815 and 1822, the architect John Nash was responsible for redesigning and expanding the Pavilion, turning it into the impressive building we know today.
Having settled on the idea of a framed picture as the most practical for posting, I chose a minimalist white box frame to house the new design. The Royal Pavilion is a wide building so the central features were chosen as the focus of the piece.
I traced off the size of the mount aperture onto thick paper and sketched out the design in the space. At just 12cm square, it was going to be tricky to capture the details and essence of the building. I decided a minimalist background of plain black would offset the glass shapes to best effect.
The white glass was cut using a mixture of hand cutting and cutting with the ring saw.
Once the shapes were right, they were applied to the black board. Next came the fiddly job of manipulating two different thicknesses of wire to create the architectural details of the building. I laid the pieces out on the glass to ensure they looked right and, once I was happy with them, painted each one with black patina so they would show up better against the white background.
Each length of wire was cleaned up and carefully applied to the right part of the glass.
Once it was set, I fitted the design in the frame, with the white mount board finishing the look.
Although this commission was quite a small scale for me to work to, for a very detailed design, I was pleased with how it came together. I like the texture of the applied wires, giving my Royal Pavilion a little of the pazzaz and flamboyance of the real building.
Happily, the unique, handmade gift picture arrived safely with its new owner in Brighton and should be a fitting memento of that vibrant city. The question is, should I try to recreate the Brighton Pier next…?
If you are planning a visit to Brighton (post lockdown of course), the Royal Pavilion is worth a visit. It is as sumptuous on the inside as it is on the outside and full of historical inspiration!