About the project

Below you will find the original project brief for ‘Painting a New London’ ….

Painting a New London is a research project supported by the Research and Development Enabling Fund of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

This research project will explore heritage in the making and is unusual in that the output will be a series of large paintings rather than a traditional report: it will result in a series of large-scale paintings – by artist Jonathan Meuli – which are designed to capture the scale and ambition of the major construction projects and infrastructure projects which are underway in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics. The purpose of the portfolio is to capture the relationship between civil engineers and their environment and to showcase the importance of infrastructure in society.

Sites will include those around the Olympic park itself, as well as those infrastructure projects (roads and cross-rail) which are happening concurrently. Major construction projects like the Shard at London bridge may also be part of the project.

An exhibition of these paintings at the ICE, also during the lead-up to the games, is planned in 2010 at which to focus on celebrating these engineering achievements.

The paintings will belong to the ICE for the benefit of its members to form part of their permanent collection documenting major engineering projects – and will form a record of this important part of London’s history.

Paintings, being themselves hand-made constructions, do not document in the same way as photographs. Using colour and brushwork and organising composition enable the painter to introduce new elements and juxtapose the familiar with the unfamiliar. Colour, dynamism, scale, and the involvement of human participants can all be controlled by the artist to give the public a view of their developing surroundings which they would never otherwise have obtained.

The ICE has a strong interest in historical engineering works and a fine collection of paintings documenting major projects. The R&D enabling fund has supported projects such as Project Inch, which is building a photographic archive. See also Engineering Timelines, a project which has a similar public dimension. Painting a New London is, like these projects, aligned closely with the charitable objectives of the ICE.

Every large-scale human endeavour deserves to be recorded and interpreted by artists – whether by painters, writers or musicians. The transformation of London at the beginning of the third millennium is a tremendous human endeavour, and it should be recorded for our own generation and for future generations. By sponsoring a portfolio of paintings that can provide, if not a complete record, then the basis of an interpretation of this important period in British history, ICE members and the civil engineering industry will gain from increased public recognition and awareness of the value of their work.

Specific benefits for industry will be strengthened links between the ICE and the companies involved in these major projects, as well as the opportunity to invite sponsorship for exhibitions of the work and to develop wider partnerships with industry through a new medium.

ICE members will benefit as the project will help to raise the profile of civil engineering with the public through exhibitions and publications.