Friday, 30 September 2011

Grey faces in the City of London

A paved sculpture garden, alongside St Mary Axe in the City of London, sits in the shadow of the Lloyds building, the famous inside-out building by Richard Rogers. The garden has trees and planting boxes, and the amazing Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor, six metres wide and reflecting the buildings around - if you climb something high enough, that is, otherwise as you might expect from the name it reflects mainly just the sky. One side of the garden is enclosed by a long yellow hoarding, concealing the construction site next door, and it seems to be a venue for artworks rather than advertising. Last year it bore a quote from Mahatma Gandhi running the full length of the hoarding: "Be the change you want to see in the world". Recently I spotted these oversize heads photographed in black and white, superimposed on the yellow background.

One lengthy Google search later, I can report that the grey faces are in fact part of a promotion for the insurance company Aviva. Their "You are the Big Picture" campaign put large black and white photographs of supposedly individual customers in noticeable places including night-time projection onto the National Theatre. To quote their website "It shows that we at Aviva want to get to know our customers as individuals". There is a charity link-up with Save the Children but that doesn't mean it's not 100% about self-promotion.