Brighton based designer Lois O’Hara’s large-scale mural on Olympic Way Think Independently, Together is an impressive 23m x 23m giant floor mural that bursts with colour. Situated at the foot of the National Stadium, it complements the new Olympic Steps which, since their launch in June 2021, provides a fitting new entrance to the iconic location. Lois O’Hara was also a part of Newmor’s commitment to bridging the gap between artists, craftspeople and commercial interiors, in their collaboration on the Newmor Designer’s range.
The hyper-real mural draws inspiration from the local area as seen from the bird’s eye view – and even incorporates a map of Brent into its overall design. After two years of isolation, Lois was keen to encourage both connection and interaction across all ages, genders, and capabilities. Developed alongside young local adults from London School of Economics, the installation not only encourages movement and play, but also emphasises collaboration.
Playful lines collide with each other to form graphic interlocking shapes in a bright colour palette that uplifts, inspires and motivates. The overall sensation is a fluid game-like quality with eye-popping colour pockets of space that can be literally inhabited – independently or together, echoing their aims to create a `collaborate’ zone in the formal public space intervention.
As a multi-disciplinary artist, Lois has a history of engaging with the public realm and is passionate about bringing movement, positivity and a ‘state of flow’ to shared public spaces, especially with regards to sport. Her vibrant colour palette and large-scale fluid designs are about transforming urban spaces into dynamic animated spaces for the public to enjoy. For Lois, colour and design are a way of breathing life and positive wellbeing back into landscapes.
LSE’s Apprentices in City Design programme participants were instrumental to Lois’ design process, and their feedback was critical in shaping the overall design. Together, they wanted to create a joyful, welcoming space that celebrated diversity in the area and represented ‘Brent in Brent’. In studying the potential and future of public spaces in the Wembley Park urban regeneration project, they wanted to incorporate recognisable elements of the wider borough that are important to local people, whereby histories, aesthetics, flora, behaviours, and emotions were all sensitively explored.
Apprentices also wanted to encourage a sense of ownership for young people, whilst remaining inclusive and collaborative at the same time. Lois’ initial response was `Think Independently, Together, which resonated with the Apprentices who see themselves as individuals but also as part of the collective. Lois also imagined the idea of people moving as bright colourful shapes and bands that come together and apart in a form of local abstract mapping; this connected with them, and one noted “ I like the interlocking lines, it represents collaboration.” The Apprentices saw value in the map visual -as being able to locate the borough within the design also enabled them to see themselves. As one pointed out, “we are connected from all areas in Wembley … it is important to get that connection.” The literal map sits within abstract shapes, allowing for one to ‘stumble across it’ and metaphorically occupy it.
Lois O’Hara commented: “It was great to design a ground installation at such a large scale. When public art projects are executed professionally, they can really bring the community together, and that was my aim. I used joyful colours to celebrate the diversity in the area and worked with young apprentices from Brent who helped inform the composition.”“
Josh McNorton, Cultural Director, Wembley Park said: “We are delighted to have Lois O’Hara’s mural at the heart of Wembley Park, bringing a unique, bold, surprising, and thought-provoking experience to the area. Our hope is that Londoners, our residents, and visitors alike connect with the work with a sense of belonging and pride.”
Zoë Allen, Artistic Statements commented: “Having followed Lois O’Hara’s work for a while, I was delighted Wembley Park and I were able to commission her. Lois’ work brings such positivity to it’s surroundings and she is totally deserving of a large scale canvas to showcase this. “Think Independently, Together” is an uplifting, colourful and characterful artwork, a reflection of Lois herself.
Wembley Park has launched a free, colour-pop, all-women art trail, ‘Figures of Change’, unveiling eight major public realm artworks by leading female artists from around the world, curated by Zoë Allen of Artistic Statements and assembled by an all-woman team of 18x. The ambitious project will further establish Wembley Park’s credentials as a major cultural hub for Northwest London.
The roster of artists and curators forming part of Wembley Park’s ‘Figures of Change’ art trail – free to visit until June 26th – includes Sofia Cianculli, Laxmi Hussein, Lois O’Hara, Sarah Blackwell, Charley Peters, Zoe Slatter, Stephanie Rausser, Jennifer Latour, Henriette Sabroe Ebbesen, Christelle Boule, Esperanza Moya, Maria Luneva, Thirza Shaap, Karina Twiss, Wami Aluko, Liz Von Hoene, Zoë Allen and Averil Curci.