Painting History – The UK’s First Art Court Arrives in Brighton
You may recognise Lois O’Hara’s work – it was her skillful hand that created easily the most Instagrammed art installation of Brighton’s summer, the seafront’s rainbow wave crossing. But now, Lois has gone even bigger and even brighter: let us introduce you to the UK’s first ever art court.
We caught up with the lovely artist herself ahead of the launch of her biggest piece yet to find out more…
Let’s recap on your last giant installation, the rainbow crossing. It’s success and popularity was amazing! Pictures of it are still cropping up all over social media now. How was that success for you? Why do you think people responded so well to it?
I was overwhelmed by the response from the rainbow wave crossing! I think people responded well to it because the space was so empty and plain for years. The traders wanted to give the space an identity and I think this has definitely been achieved! The council want me to paint the benches beside it next.
Tell us about the art court, which is the first of it’s kind in the UK! Your social media account showed that you enlisted the help of other people – is working with a team on your designs new for you?
The art court was a dream project (and rather stressful)! It took a while to plan, get permission and to secure sponsorship/ funds. Valspar Paint were the first sponsor and they supplied all of the amazing colours. Basketball England also sponsored and along with Project Backboard they have such good advice from a Basketball perspective. I had some lovely volunteers help me on the first two days but after that I went a bit crazy and smashed the whole thing out on my own. I was exhausted afterwards but it’s still a great feeling to see it in all its glory. As I progress I will definitely need to not be so stubborn and enlist the help of others!
What did you personally want to achieve with this piece? What did it mean for you?
I wanted to transform the area as I could see it had lots of potential. There’s even a paddling pool, cafe and a playground right beside the court! I live near to the court and it was rarely used. If the public were on it, it was mainly at night. By bringing colour and motion to the surface and walls, my plan was to encourage more play and social interaction by day.
Both the art court and the rainbow crossing were usable and interactive, designed for people to experience rather than just look at. Is that something important to you in your work? Do you think art should generally be more accessible?
Yes I like the idea of my work being accessible as my style is very playful and I always like to aim it at those adults who never want to grow up. Straight after I have finished painting I am inevitably a bit protective over the artwork, but then it brings me joy seeing the public have fun with it. I always worry about taggers, especially in Brighton and people who might be disrespectful, but that’s all part of the ride, I guess!
The location of the art court sets it aside from the crossing – it’s in a part of Brighton that doesn’t attract as many tourists, with less money put into it than the seafront. How important do you feel it is to create something so bright and visually pleasing in a slightly less invested in part of town? Do you think this makes it a piece for the community rather than tourists?
Funnily enough, I set my sights on the beach court initially, but Saunders Park needed it more! I love the idea of transforming social spaces. I believe that colour and good design can strengthen communities and bring people back together. Saunders Park Court was pretty much deteriorating so painting the UK’s first giant art court there has made the biggest impact!
So what’s next? Are you going to try and go even bigger or on to a smaller piece next?
Currently, I am working on a big project for London Design Festival in collaboration with Pulpo, W.A Green and My Painthouse so watch this space!
The UK’s first art court is available to view (and use!) at Saunders Park, Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 4NH.