Student news article
Bringing vibrancy and life to the corner of Dixon road is a statement piece of artwork, hand painted by Design graduate, Ted Low.
The new mural stretches across the Students Union building, reflecting the historical timeline of black liberation.
We caught up with Ted to find out what it was like to work on such a significant piece, and how it all came about.
How did you find yourself painting a mural?
I saw an opportunity to try something new and went for it. The Students’ Union put out a call for submissions to produce a ‘new liberation mural’ and I entered. It was then shortlisted down to myself and another student, and from there it was left to a student vote.
What’s the concept behind it?
It’s a black liberation piece. I’m from South Africa, and although I didn’t live through the anti apartheid movement, it’s still very much part of my history.
The idea is that if you look at the piece from left to right, you’ll see a timeline of progress towards liberation, personified by the key people in history who made an impact on the movement. As you follow it along, the lines gradually become less rigid and more colourful and free flowing, drawing your eyes to Nelson Mandela on the far right as the last and most recent figure of racial equality.
I also tried to include people who may have not had as much public recognition for their political impact as they deserved. For example, I could have included Martin Luther King, who is such a leading and familiar figure, but instead I chose to feature Assata Shakur who also made significant contributions to black equality. Also featured in the mural is Rosa Parks, Sekou Odinga, Frantz Fanon and an unnamed black man forced to use a black water fountain.
It was clearly a really big job, why bother doing it?
It was really an opportunity to do something that doesn’t come around every day. It was a big commitment but at the same time it was great to do something that was really personal to me. I’m really proud of what I achieved.
On a practical basis, how did you go about creating something so incredibly detailed?
I used a *lot* of masking tape! The difficulty was figuring out what would work with the paint to stop it from running. I set up a grid system to keep everything in proportion. I’d then project images of the people onto the wall at night and outlined them. I painted the lines first, which was followed by lots of retouching. The security team were such a big help when I was working through the evenings in particular.
Was there anything that you found particularly challenging?
Unfortunately the whole production was delayed quite a bit, which was really frustrating. I tore my Achilles in November, so I couldn’t work on the mural while I was waiting for it to heal. I also managed to get a full-time job around the same time, which left me with less time.
I finally got it finished on the 8 May. Lots of my friends helped out along the way, which was great, particularly Tom Holloway and Joe Thompson. Jen Hart in the SU was also very helpful.
What does it mean to you now that it’s finished?
I’m obviously really happy with the final result,but more importantly I’m glad that there’s something that, in a way, thanks everyone that fought for equal rights and also hopefully raising more awareness about wider equality, not only between races.