12 Months of Neon Love is a collaborative project between two independent artist’s; Richard Wheater and Victoria Lucas. The project began on Valentines day 2011, where the two collaborated and the project ended one year later; Valentines day 2012, resulting in a years worth of neon signs that illustrate lyrics from love songs.
The neon signs form a ‘sequence of twelve lyrical statements, borrowed from well-known songs that feature the many configurations of love. Presented over a year in large red neon text, twelve expressions are visually re-presented to an unsuspecting audience going about their everyday lives on the roof of Neon Workshops in Wakefield’.
“The project is specifically born out of a romantic relationship between two artists; one passionate about neon (Wheater), the other passionate about the subject of time (Lucas). Together they created a year long public artwork that celebrated the many configurations of love, including expressions of intimacy, adoration and heartbreak, using the medium of light with its time-based properties.”
The project location was very specific to the pair;
“We initially began to think about the train line, and how the location of the workshop sat in perfect alignment with passing commuters. We realized that if the neon sign was big enough, we could build a roof top platform to communicate with passers by, visually shouting from the roof tops of Wakefield; a human heart felt voice burning above the industrial setting of warehouses. We thought this subject matter would be something that everyone could identify with.” – Wheater
I really love this project for various reasons, but 3 stand out to me the most. Firstly, I think their specific location for the neons is something to consider. Making your work site specific extends the context of the work, which I think they have by placing lyrics about love near a train station; a place where you say goodbye or meet loved ones. And placing it where so many can see it when the context is so universal is a great aspect about the piece.
Secondly, I love there use of lyrics. I am currently creating work that involves lyrics as I believe they can speak volumes I can’t, I look to music for inspiration constantly, So I can understand why the two have used them. They describe there use of song lines as:
‘Lyrics allow us to explore the world and ourselves through the sentiments of another. Love in particular is an emotion so complex it is often difficult to define, and love songs provide a way to articulate the emotional intangibility that the feeling evokes. These poetic interpretations of rapture bestow a rare euphoric sensation that is evocative and poignant for those in love; whilst some love songs strive to make sense of the agonies provoked by unrequited love, lost love and abandonment’.
I can relate to looking to music when emotions are so complex and often are difficult to define, I also found a lot of what I felt, yet couldn’t describe myself, through lyrics, So seeing other artists use this is very inspiring.
Another property I love about these works is the colour of neon. I have been quite apprehensive about using colour in my own Neon EL Wire signs, as I feel with colour comes presumption of emotion, colour is always associated with feelings, so I kept mine white to avoid this, but seeing these works has made me reconsider. They have used the appropriate colour for a very particular context; red = love, and it work’s fantastically as it’s very clear what the context is about.However, with my choice of words, it can be interpreted different ways, maybe adding a specific colour will amplify and make my context clearer – definitely something I will consider.
A really influential project, that I can learn from in terms of considering colour, location and context and transpose them into my own practice.
All images and quotes from 12 months of neon love – http://12monthsofneonlove.blog.com/
Richard Wheater – http://www.richardwheater.com/
Victoria Lucas – https://victorialucas.co.uk/