Virgin Money art commission

by Anita Bowerman January 14, 2017

Virgin Money Sheffield stainless steel artwork

This art commission project all started last year when I was downstairs in my gallery and some customers popped in. They wanted to buy a tree painting for a member of their family and I had my stainless steel with copper wings Angel of the North on display. They asked “How big can you make this? Can you make it 2 metres wide?” I replied that this would not be a problem. The man said that his company would be in touch as they were opening a new branch in Sheffield and a few weeks later I got a phone call explaining the brief and so the project began.

I was asked to come up with different ideas for an artwork for a new Virgin Money Lounge in Sheffield. The brief was specific and I had a week to come up with ideas of paintings and designs. The ideas were then presented to the decision makers in Virgin for final approval. I was thrilled when I finally received a phone call asking me to produce a 1.5 metre diameter stainless steel wheel depicting antique and vintage cutlery produced in Sheffield. Virgin were very impressed with the Tour de Yorkshire cycling stainless steel wheel artwork I had previously designed for the Tour de France 2014, the first Tour de Yorkshire 2015 as well as my Angel of the North.

I set about liaising with the manufacturer to produce the finished artwork. I wanted to replicate the sparkling lustre of brand new stainless steel cutlery. The type of steel developed in Sheffield so that the steel didn’t rust was called Staybright. To this end the manufacturer laser cut the design and then sent the item to be polished. Inspiration for the design came from the cutlery displays of old. It was usual in Sheffield to display cutlery in a group, often in a circle. I researched each knife, fork and spoon, copying the shapes of old. If you look closely there is even a penknife. So after about a year from conception, my manufactured completed design was ready for installation on site.

Virgin Money stainless steel artwork commission
There are only 7 Virgin Money Lounges in the country: Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Norwich, Sheffield and two in London. The idea behind the concept is similar to a VIP lounge at an airport. They are luxurious places for Virgin account holders to use all the facilities free of charge. The lounges are furnished with stylish seating in leather and velvet. There are complementary refreshments and biscuits, free Wi-Fi and newspapers available as well as banking facilities, but they are discreet. Each lounge has its own features. In the Virgin Money Haymarket, a fuselage has been installed in the basement complete with airline seats. Sheffield is the first Virgin Money Lounge in Yorkshire and it doesn’t disappoint! The Lounge has 3 floors and there is a bowling alley, cinema and games room in the basement. A copy of a huge table that Richard Branson has on Necker Island is displayed upstairs alongside my stainless steel sculpture. What a thrill it is to see my artwork displayed for all to see on the walls of this amazing new concept in banking. Mine is the only artwork in the building. As Nigel Reece said “It really is the focal point of the Lounge.” Apparently, the people of Sheffield love it and have their photos taken with it.



Anita Bowerman
Anita Bowerman

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