The Artist & The Expert

The Gherkin is, in my mind, a piece of architectural art so I was interested when Searcys' commissioned architectural photographer Paul Ratigan to create two pieces of art for the 39th floor of the building with the Gherkin as their central theme. I was further delighted to be asked to interview Paul in front of an audience at the inaugural opening event - we'd like you to talk to Paul about your shared inspiration, the Gherkin and the synergies between your approaches as artist and expert.

I interview Paul the week before so I know what questions to ask on the night, I like him and we do have a lot in common, including the fact that we both walked around the building for months, (me mainly on the inside and him mainly on the outside).  I also decide to go in on the Sunday afternoon when the art is being hung, partly because this would give me more time with Paul (the more information you know about your interviewee the better job you can do) and partly because I was dying to get a peek at the art. The pieces are AMAZING! Layers upon and layers of architectural details, all transposed over each other but utterly clear - the clarity an important part of his technique I learn. Paul's is work is abstract and complex but the multiple layers have to be transparent (it would be easy to make the 50 or 60 images in piece look like a muddy mess instead of a thing of great beauty). Paul wants you to see through the picture, for your eye to go in and out, always being drawn to something new. This is exactly what happens.

(During the hanging process you'll be pleased to know I resisted the temptation to peel off the protective plastic on the artworks, although it was hard - I am in full admiration of those people who keep the protective screen saver plastics on their phones, I tell you, mine comes off in a millisecond).

The opening night was a big success, 'St Mary Axe I' and 'St Mary Axe II' wowed everyone and the audience enjoyed Paul's combination of outright enthusiasm and detailed explanations of the complexities of the technology he uses.

Thanks to Searcys The Gherkin and the charismatic Didier Donier of Doniel Gallery for inviting me to MC the evening and conduct the interview with such a talented artist.

Paul explaining his art to me during the hanging process

Paul explaining his art to me during the hanging process

At the inaugural opening event of St Mary Axe I & II

At the inaugural opening event of St Mary Axe I & II