Sep 192014

I painted this over four days in beautiful Birmingham for the inaugural City of Colours event in  Birmingham. There were no projectors, computers, special lighting, tools or equipment used in the execution of this new piece (except ladders & scaffold tower) – this was all painted by eye.

As soon as I had clearance for the floor and the ping-pong table inside the concrete corner, I went to town rehearsing the place digitally. 18 years previously, I had lost my portfolio on the exact centre of the floorspace when it was a rubble-strewn car park. I produced sketches and presented them to City of Colours and the Custard Factory, so they knew for a long while that I was hoping to paint on the floor and the windows of the shop.

Ladder claw

Getting to know the 48 different surfaces beforehand had a tremendous benefit as I was planning to spend several days up against it. I used 2 x 5litre tubs of masonry, and 13 tins of black, 11 tins of white Ironlak. three sets of support; 3m A-steps, 3-section/5m ladders and 9m scaffolding for the far corner.

Modernisnt for City of Colours painted by Chu at the Custard Factory, Birmingham September 2014

Thats Andy Goodman jumping


From the site visit, it was obvious that I could get up to all sorts of trouble. The concept began immediately as a new plane distortion piece; a large checkerboard floating on an invisible plane, independent of the surfaces the pattern is painted onto.

Links to previous examples of my plane distortion pieces:

Interior of De Buuvrouw, Amsterdam - painted in aerosol by Chu April 2011 Beautiful photograph by Ian Cox Too Dimensional photographed by Wallkandy Bez-s Acid House, Glastonbury Festival 2013

This new piece was bound to reach the second storey windows at the back, and (seemingly) cover most of the floorspace. Its in a very hard to discover part of the Custard Factory complex so this strengthened the tools of human discovery.

Preliminary site visit to Custard Factory

From here I crawled back into the lab to remotely decipher the actual build of the space. This is when the pixel pushing gloves came on.

CGI sketch of Custard Factory space

This then became a physically demanding and very disturbing mural indeed. One thing had escaped me, and that was I needn’t paint the area behind the ping-pong table, or anything that was obscured, such as the very far wall.

Modernisnt painted by Chu, City of Colours - Birmingham 2014

Checker bored

This mode of painting is becoming an amalgam for several of my influences:

  • Mathematics
  • Archetypal breakdancing lino
  • The 16:9 aspect ratio used in wide-screen broadcast
  • Warship dazzle camouflage
  • 66.6″ eye level
  • Destruction of mass digital sharing
  • Chequered flag
  • UK Police uniforms
  • Photoshop transparent layer
  • Graph paper
  • Huge concrete deformations


I cannot argue, this took me a good while. There were so many surfaces to auto-align that running up and down the steps proved a little over-eggy. During the few days I was there painting, especially on Saturday, there were so many friends and folk I hadn’t seen for years pop by, another reason I got the dreaded ladder-claw. Still – the experiment is now complete and qualifies as a success for me, fair conclusion. Guesstimates are around 40 hours to paint, all and all.

360° panorama

[Click here to view the gallery full screen]


Thanks to

Becci & Karl who kept pushing themselves to the limit. Julie who persisted against all the odds. The guys who gave me many hours of their time and support during the marathon task; Panda, Slobz, Trevor, Barmy Army, Chloe, Kieren, Cooper, Eddy, big Dave and little Dave from the Custard, Gent and Newso from the 48ers, Dan from Green Street Arts, Kris, Skip & Bob from the Ideal, Chris, Ricky and Faisal security guys and Timmy Abbot.

And me Mum & Dad

Close-up reflectotron™ portrait taken by the beautiful Donna