A new, eye-catching work of art, inspired by Dippy the Dinosaur’s stay in Coventry, is set to go on display in the city – but it won’t last very long!
Dippy the Dinosaur has captured the imagination of thousands of Coventry residents in the first six months of its three-year stay on loan from the Natural History Museum.
And now, an acclaimed illustrator and street artist has paid tribute to its popularity with an original work that reimagines the city’s skyline in the form of a mighty prehistoric creature.
Bristol-based artist Andy Council has been painting three of the walls at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, spending upwards of 50 hours adorning them with a seven metre wide spray-paint rendering of Coventry city centre, spread across the shape of a diplodocus.
His Coventry work, which is available to view until September 3, incorporates the likes of the old and new cathedrals and the elephant building, as well as a host of other recognisable landmarks that Coventrians of all ages will be able to spot.
The Coventry Dinosaur is part of the Herbert’s Work on Walls project, which has seen some of the walls in the gallery transformed by contemporary artists in response to the Herbert’s own collections.
There are various links between the modern city and the prehistoric creature, from fossil fuels created over millions of years supporting our way of life to the raw materials used in the creation of the city, to the skyline once dominated by creatures that roamed the earth now busy with buildings.
Andy said that he hoped the work would be an accessible way for people to experience art – with hours of meticulous planning and careful delivery going into the work, which maintains a colourful, engaging appearance.
He uses a combination of digital drawings and images to develop his creations, starting with a grid and building up layers, using certain focal points across the piece as anchors to help manage large canvases.
The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum supported Andy with an expert tour of the city centre, pointing out notable features to help him develop his Dippy-inspired artwork, with Andy taking hundreds of photos of key architecture to ensure accuracy in his designs.
His most well-known and popular work, Bristol Dinosaur (2005), was the first of his city creature illustrations, while his Crouch End Dinosaur (2011) was featured in Time Out Magazine.
Andy said: “The work contains Coventry’s ring road from head to tail, which in a sense holds together much of the city centre. I think people enjoy seeing things that are familiar to them represented in an unfamiliar way, and with something of this size, the more you look at it the more you hopefully uncover and recognise.
“There’s quite a lot of work that goes into the planning and design of the piece before I start spray painting, but the end result is hopefully quite accessible regardless of any previous exposure to art. Some iconic city architecture and spaces should be easily identifiable, and some of the greys and browns have been reimagined as purples and reds. There is also a nod to the city’s automotive heritage with cars dotted throughout.
“A career in the visual arts never seemed like an option to me when I was growing up, so I hope this work will spark some ideas for young people and encourage them to get involved in street art, or any creative pursuit – and drawing on the place you have grown up is a great place to start.”
Andy will lead a ticketed learning masterclass workshop on August 1, with young people invited to make their own dinosaur art creations which will feature on the walls next to the Coventry Dinosaur. A public drop-in session, which requires no booking, will take place on August 2.
Dominic Bubb, exhibitions manager at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, said: “Andy has created something really impressive which I think a lot of Coventry residents will enjoy exploring, especially with Dippy proving so popular over the last few months,
“It is located in the gallery just up the stairs from Dippy, which means visitors can spend time marvelling at the dinosaur itself before having a closer look at Andy’s creation, and seeing how he has reimagined Coventry in a very unique and accessible way.”
The work of art will return in the autumn as part of the Dippy VR experience at the Herbert.
For more information visit: www.theherbert.org/whats-on