Issue date: 12 May 2004

A lecturer at UWE has been nominated for a prestigious national Art in Architecture award for a large scale colour installation in the Architecture and Planning Studios on the Frenchay Campus of UWE.

Andy Bradford’s Colour Theory Installation has reached the final 12 (from 200 entries) in the Royal fine Art Commission Trust/BSkyB Annual Award for Art in Architecture.

His artwork draws both on his experience as an architect and as an artist and is infused with a passionate belief that colour has an important but neglected role to play in architecture and planning.

Andy decided to use Johannes Itten’s 12-colour system as the basis for his installation for two reasons. He says, “By using a theory of colour I can limit the subjectivity of the artwork. It also means that the installation will stand the test of time and act as a reference point and teaching aid for current and future students.”

The installation itself consists of panels and walls within the public areas of the building, in the teaching rooms, and outside the building. The panels represent and depict different aspects of colour theory – demonstrating for example how the same colour when placed on different backgrounds changes the mood or perception of that colour. The 12-hue colour circle and 12 tone circle are both depicted as you walk into the building. Both the psychology of colour and the spatial aspects of using colour are explored throughout the installation.

Andy explains how the colour panels have been used in the teaching rooms, “There are nine studio teaching rooms and in each one there are 3 painted wall panels (1.5m x 2.5m) with 75 different squares on each – a total of 1500 squares. The panels are examples of different aspects of colour theory – such as cold-warm contrast, light-dark contrast and complementary contrast.

Andy says, “I want to put colour back on the agenda for architects as it was 50 years ago when schools of architecture were closely allied to art colleges. The course at UWE is unique in that it educates architects and planners together – I want to add to this and bring the colour back into architecture so our buildings and cities can benefit from an understanding and use of colour in appropriate ways. Colour has a powerful affect on mood and it can also change perceptions of space – by learning and properly understanding the theory of colour architects will be able to apply this in their work. The theory of colour is not intended as a straightjacket – rather it is a way of talking about colour and a reference tool that architects and planners can use to bring more colour back into our buildings.”

“I am delighted to be nominated for this award as I am keen to raise awareness of the value of Art in Architecture. I am hoping to take this study further into a Phd and to spread the idea more widely of involving colour in the training of architects.”

Andy collaborated with Crown paints who sponsored the paint for the installation both inside and out.


Editor’s notes

Andy Bradford qualified as an architect and trained as a Fine Artist at St Martins college of Art and Chelsea college of Art in London. He collaborates with Architects on public art projects, and works as a colour consultant for built environment professionals. Andy works part-time as a Lecturer at UWE in the Faculty of the Built Environment.

The Architecture and Planning Studio building was designed by White Design Architects, based in Bristol. The building demonstrates a use of innovative construction techniques, such as straw bale panels and ‘glued’ thin bed masonry, and acts as a teaching resource for students.

The Royal Fine Art Commission Awards will be presented at the Savoy Hotel in London in June, and a documentary showing the 12 finalists will be broadcast on the Sky Artsworld channel later that month.

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