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boast. Positioning art in malls is, therefore worth considering, especially if the talent is there, and from pop-ups to dedicated stores to commissioned pieces, it has been a proven fit in some shape or form. Following the launch of The Hub, a new dining and leisure development at the East Kilbride shopping centre, the EK team were looking to give their centre something a little different, and so hired local artist James Klinge, renowned in Glasgow for his many murals around the city, the UK and Australia, to design something for their centre. “We wanted James to create 12 paintings that not only summed up the centre’s vibrancy, but made our visitors stop, take a minute and think about what they were looking at,” says Ian McLelland, centre director at EK, East Kilbride, explaining the basic brief they gave James for the commission. “I actually prepared two designs, but one of them they just outright told me was too corporate,” says James Klinge. The rejected design in question included three panels plastered with the centre’s ‘Come Get It” tagline, with artistic impressions of F&B brand symbols in the background. “It was going to have graphics of different brands in the centre like Nandos and Pizza Express but they didn’t like it, it was too obviously commercial.” McLelland explains that they wanted something that wasn’t prescriptive. “You can look at some other art installations in shopping centres and tell that it's commissioned to advertise the centre,” he says. “We wanted something authentic, something real that people would see here and not see anywhere else." "It was difficult to really imagine it coming to life because the centre was still under construction when they came to me with the idea,” James remembers. “I thought initially they wanted me to create vinyls to install but they said no, we want you to use the wall as the canvas which is perfect for me because whenever or SHOPPING CENTRE JUNE 2017

wherever I paint I like to treat whatever I'm working on as a canvas.” James worked on the 12 murals during the night, usually starting work around 9pm, saying that because of the late opening hours of the centre, there were often people still wandering around while he was at work. “People are interested in the process and seeing it come to life and giving them that created that extra level of engagement," he says. The murals themselves are holding screens for shopfronts, masks for the constriction work going on in the units behind them. The murals will be removed when the stores are ready to open. When asked about what will happen to the murals once the units are ready to start trading, James was unconcerned. "I'm not going to release them as a print,” he says. “They were made for EK and that's what it's about, it's a unique offering. I'm a street artist and being a street artist you know that your work isn't permanent when you're doing it. I'm just grateful to have been given another amazing, public platform." With a project such as this there is, as McLelland says, likely to be response from the public. But for EK, the endeavour paid off. “Even the people you’d least expect will come up to you and says: ‘I really like that’" McLelland says. "My wife wants me to take one when they're getting replaced but I don't think that'll fit above the mantelpiece," he laughs. Whilst a commissioned, non-corporate piece of art is a theoretically nice concept, not every location will have its large-scale James Klinge artist, and not every location will have the empty shopfronts to cover. Opening a shared retail space created for artists and designers, The Creative Lab at Flemingate, Beverley, was recently launched by local artists Mikey Mathieson and Chris Kidd, offering a platform for artists from around the area to exhibit and sell their work. “Initially, we approached a number of www.shopping-centre.co.uk

Shopping Centre July 2017  
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