THE WATER TOWER
Redesigning the Cardiff City skyline with the Mabinogion
As part of the Weird and Wonderful Wales element of the Land of Legends campaign launched by Literature Wales to promote the best in Welsh creativity, literature, art and more, Gardners was tasked with printing and installing a 100sqm mural to celebrate Welsh history in a unique and eye-catching way.
The campaign designed by Pete Fowler was an intricate piece of art and Gardners was appointed to showcase this in a format that was suitable for outdoor display without compromising the quality of the design. Designed to celebrate Welsh literature and heritage, drawing on some of the fantastic stories from Wales, inspiration for this project was taken from the Mabinogion. The artist, Pete, was looking for an iconic location to showcase his artwork and selected the 1932 grade II listed Great Western Railway water tower, a famous landmark adjacent to Cardiff Central train station, one of the main hubs of transport for those entering the capital city.
Ahead of the print run and installation, the Gardners team spent time reviewing the Water Tower to understand the best solutions for the site’s unique dimensions and structure. This included a site survey to ascertain height, circumference, check structural stability of its outer surface, along with roof stability ahead of the abseil installation process. Once the artwork and initial dimensions were finalised with Literature Wales, Gardners quickly identified that it would be unrealistic to print one continuous sheet to effectively cover the 22.14m circumference of the tower. Instead, the team made the decision to print 23 panels to cover the tower utilising full colour digital print with latex technology for ultimate image definition and vibrancy, followed by an exterior grade Cast Glass laminate to enhance durability and protect the print and colour quality from adverse weather conditions. Given the intricacy of the artwork design and the need for this to be conveyed in its outdoor display, each panel had a 50mm image bleed to the leading edge of each panel to allow overlap during the installation stage for enhanced precision and ease of installation. This full panel suite was printed in the Gardners factory in Cardiff and was completed in just two days.
As the Water Tower was an unusual choice for the outdoor campaign, prior to the team’s site visit this location was not ready for any print installation. Therefore, the team spent two days cleaning the algae and moss from the surface of the tower to ensure that it was installation- ready. Also, this project was particularly weather dependent for the health and safety of the abseiler installation team and also the quality of installation, which meant that weather had to be assessed before work was started and again half way through installation. This resulted in the work being postponed due to adverse weather conditions for several months. Although the team still faced low temperatures and rain, the project was returned to in March 2018, where the work was finalised.
The Water Tower was completed to a high-quality standard, seeing this vibrant, aesthetically-pleasing element of the Weird and Wonderful Wales campaign praised in local media such as BBC Wales and Wales Online, as well as by local MPs and citizens, helping to celebrate Welsh creative talent.