Good Wives & Warriors
Good Wives and Warriors were commissioned by the BBC to create a mural in Glasgow’s Parkhead for the commonwealth games. The artists Louise Chappell and Becky Bolton both graduates of the Glasgow School of Art created the successful piece with inspiration taken from talking to the people of Glasgow directly. The whole project was made into a documentary and shown on the BBC.
Could you describe your process for creating the mural and what the BBC referred to as the ‘Magpie’ approach?
The process we used for creating the mural was really straight-forward. As we wanted the painting to be an amalgamation of imagery representational of Glasgow in the eyes of the cities residents, we simply asked as many people as we could ‘what does Glasgow mean to you?’ We then took the answers, researched, photographed and collected images and inspiration to make up the painting. I guess it is referred to as a ‘magpie approach’ because we are selecting the interesting ‘shiny’ aspects of the answers to create our composition.
The Glasgow public took a great interest and offered lots of contributions, was this surprising?
We were pleasantly surprised by the diversity and personal responses we received although we always had faith in the generosity of spirit in Glasgow – we knew that people would be happy to help!
How do you feel about the project being a mural in a space open to all the public rather than if it had been an exhibition in a gallery?
We felt a greater responsibility to make something that was visually and universally appealing. In an art gallery you can create a piece of work for predominantly for yourself, that can be challenging and difficult for the viewer to understand – it can be a much more selfish process. In making something that people would have to live with, we felt a pressure but also a desire to make something that was an aesthetic pleasure for the residents, that improved people’s walk to work or to school.
Could you tell us about your backgrounds and what inspired you to undertake a career in visual arts?
We were both determined to be artists from a very early age and painting had always been the plan. Although neither of us can explain it, The Glasgow School of Art had always been where we both wanted to study- it is a very romantic place with an amazing history and reputation. We are very lucky to have found each other there and to be able to do what we do for a living!
Good Wives and Warriors have exhibited all over the world. Did your experiences in different countries influence the mural?
I suppose every experience influences future paintings. The more art works we create in the public realm reveal to us the similarities and differences of various nationalities – the way people experience art work and consider themselves in relation to it.
When you were students in Glasgow did you think you would get the opportunity to create such a large scale and important project in Glasgow?
I imagine we probably did! We were always dreaming about grand plan projects and I suppose when you are young, you believe anything to be possible. We were pretty naive, of course, and it has taken us a long time and a lot of work to get to this stage!
You have produced work for huge clients such Chevrolet and Tiger Beer. Is your approach vastly different when working for big companies than it is for projects such as this?
For us, the difference between commercial and art projects is very clear and different however, to most people it would probably seem very similar! We loved having the opportunity to create such a large-scale work that was not advertising or selling anything. It has an inherent creative freedom.
Finally, what advice would you give to Art students currently studying in Glasgow today?
Work hard, stick with it and be prepared for a long slog. If you really want to do something new, it is probably going to be difficult at times but ultimately worth it!
If you would like to see this wonderful artwork in person then find the location on the map below!