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New DCA window design by Louise Kirby

17 December 2021

We’re thrilled to reveal our new window display which was illustrated and designed by local artist Louise Kirby. The bright and bold window design was inspired by the “energy and sense of community” found throughout DCA's building and programme areas, as well as the many geographic shapes found hidden within its walls.

To celebrate the unveiling of the display we spoke to Louise to discuss her artistic process, how she created the final design and her ongoing relationship with DCA.

“It’s a real hub of activity that makes me feel welcome and inspired.”

Louise, tell us about your history with DCA?

DCA means a lot to me, it opened the year I graduated and I’ve loved coming to all parts of the building: from sitting in the beer garden in the summer, to being inspired by the range of contemporary exhibitions to enjoying a range of films at the cinema. It’s a real hub of activity that makes me feel welcome and inspired.

I’ve engaged with DCA in a number of different ways over the years. I’ve sold my Dundee Delight greeting cards, magnets and tea towels in DCA Shop for years, and previously used to sell my hand printed scarves in the shop – they’re great at supporting local designers. I am also currently running workshops with Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC) as a freelance designer and workshop leader to help them realise some design ideas. It’s such a safe and friendly space that I like to bring my son along to exhibitions so we can experience different artists perspectives of the world.

I was delighted when I was commissioned to create an exciting, vibrant window design that celebrates the energy and sense of community found in all the programme areas, and I really tried to bring that activity from the inside and onto the outside of the building through my design. The process involved rounds of research, development and prototyping, as well as good communication with the DCA team and the vinyl fabricator, Barry Robertson from Robertsign, to help create the final designs on display.

How did you start the process?

To get a feel for the building I visited all the different departments, taking lots of photos that I could refer to in the studio.

I found lots of geometric shapes within the building from the angular windows, step-shaped walls, and winged gallery roof; plus, so many circles: from the vintage projectors, printing press wheels, pegboard, retail display units, to the circular fairy lights fittings in Jute Café Bar and even the products in the shop.

I’m naturally drawn to seeing pattern and texture and loved the overlaid wire racks in the print studio that created modern checks and the negative space of the screen-printing racks full of irregular stripes.

I also found colour references from the bright cinema seats, pots of ink in the Print Studio, participant artwork on display in the Create Space, bright colours of the Riso print samples to the more subtle cladding of the building. 

How did you develop these references into fully realised ideas?

To process ideas, I created sketches in pencil and ink then found visual connections from there.  I created rough thumbnail sketches of designs in situ and mocked them up digitally to test various colour combinations and played with different juxtaposition of textures within shapes.  I played with rotation and the scale of the spots to capture the energy from the activity from inside of the building. After that, I discussed technical details with the local fabricator and worked within design constraints so that the design would work practically. Finally, I selected and rejected elements to create coherent concepts for presenting to the DCA team.

What can you tell us about the completed work?

The final designs are the meeting of the bold geometric shapes found throughout DCA and the playful feel of my signature style, which retains the hand drawn feel of my linework and confidently uses a vibrant colour palette with clashing and contrasting of patterns to bring together all the activity of the building. I wanted the circles in the top windows to have a lot of movement the capture the energy of the building and connect to the shop windows below. 

With my design work I like to capture a sense of place by creating bespoke designs that are meaningful and unique to the space, so I hope these designs help to connect people with DCA and remind past visitors to come inside and entice new visitors to see the variety of things it has to offer, from a trip to the cinema, to taking part in a workshop, to grabbing a bite to eat with friends or seeing the latest contemporary art exhibition.

“Louise's incredibly vibrant style and brilliant geometric designs were perfect...”

Beth Bate, Director of DCA said: “When looking for an artist who could create a design that not only reflected the breadth of DCA’s activity, but also celebrates the individuals who engage with us, Louise Kirby immediately came to mind. Her incredibly vibrant style and brilliant geometric designs were perfect for capturing the variety and energy of our programme and the people who make it as special as it is.”

About Louise Kirby

Louise Kirby is a Dundee based designer who creates bespoke artwork that capture a sense of place. Her artwork has a positive playful feel which is created by contrasting patterns and meaningful references. 

Louise designs artwork for a range of applications from decorative pieces to site specific installations within the public realm, her work enhances the everyday and makes the world a little brighter.  She brings the positives into focus and helps join the dots by creating artwork that connect people to the world around them. 

She graduated from DJCAD in 1999 with an Honours Degree in Printed Textiles.

Louise designs her own range of illustrated gift products and cards called Dundee Delights. Available in the DCA Shop.

Website – http://louisekirby.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LouiseKirbyDesign @LouiseKirby

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/louisekirbydesign/ @louisekirbydesign

Twitter - https://twitter.com/louisekirby @LouiseKirby

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