City Less Grey, Leeds UK
Pics & Vids: Bokehgo
Last month saw Nomad Clan complete ‘Athena Rising’, officially the UK’s tallest mural.
The huge statement piece soars a monumental 46.8 metres (153 feet) from the ground. Using the full length of the building as its canvas, the striking 11 metre-wide. The mural is part of the citywide street art project ‘A City Less Grey’, initiated by East Street Arts and fully funded by LeedsBID (Leeds Business Improvement District). The project aims to animate the city and incorporate works of art onto and into Leeds’ buildings and streets.
Athena has been a 7 month long project, endless design work and planning resulting in 16 days painting on a skylift.
Like most of the public artwork around Leeds we used the Owl's on the coat of arms as a starting point. Although it’s ‘been done’ it seems that people are naturally drawn to the Owl, in many ways it resonates with people and of course this is a huge statement piece for Leeds, if anything it needs to be intrinsically connected to the city!
Owls historically signify Intelligence, knowledge, wealth, learning and transition, most of these ideas are derived from ancient meanings/practises and have been used symbolically by many cultures. The mythology relates to wisdom and femininity. The owl was a symbol for Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy, before the Greeks gave their pantheon human forms. According to myth, an owl sat on Athena’s blind side, so that she could see the whole truth. In Ancient Greece, the owl was a symbol of a higher wisdom, and it was also a guardian of the Acropolis. Diana, the Roman response to Athena, was strongly associated with the moon, and also the owl. The Pawnee and the Sioux saw the owl as a messenger (akicita) to the first of all evil creatures (Unktehi). While the Lakota tribe had an “Owl Society,” where the warriors fought primarily at night and painted dark rings around their eyes because they believed that would allow them to have an owl’s acute vision.
The gold sacred geometry inspired loosely by the study of mathematics in nature is key to the concept. Geometric symbols are often used in ancient architectural designs as well as being repeated in natural forms, it is a common denominator in humanity that connects us all in a fundamental way. Cities are increasingly becoming disconnected from nature and its easy to see why, but at the heart of everything, underneath the complexities of urban life, money, social media, politics, technology, bullshit... we are all still part of this massive space rock.