Giant comic strip sited around V&A Dundee

05 August 2015

A giant comic strip‎ illustrating the brilliance of design will be unveiled tomorrow at the waterfront construction site of V&A Museum of Design Dundee.

Comic illustrator Will Morris and graphic designer David Mackenzie were commissioned to design the giant 150m long comic strip, after being recognised amongst Scotland’s most inspirational creative talent.

In line with V&A Dundee’s core aim to nurture and promote Scotland’s design industry, a shortlist of some of the most exciting emerging Scottish design talent was compiled and the designers asked to submit ideas for the hoardings graphics.

Morris and Mackenzie’s response, ‘Adventures in Design’ tells the story of the everyday relevance of design – how it solves problems, improves lives and makes the world more beautiful and fun.

Over three sequences it explores the way in which the most exciting innovations don’t just appear – they are the result of a rich and varied collaborative design process. Featured Scottish designs include the Falkirk Wheel, Harris Tweed and Dundee-based game developer Guerrilla Tea’s data-crunching ‘Genes in Space’ collaboration with Cancer Research UK.

Alongside these stories, some of Dundee's most prestigious innovations also feature – from Keiller’s marmalade, Valentine’s first picture postcard, Lemmings, Maggie’s Dundee and of course the city’s attribute as the first designated UK UNESCO City of Design.

“Comic illustration is such an integral part of Dundee’s creative history that we immediately understood the appeal for local audiences. Equally we hope this approach will inspire and excite audiences nationally, and around the world,” says Tara Wainwright, Marketing & Communications Manager for V&A Dundee.

“It’s essential to us that we engage our communities in the story of design. The comic strip provides an unusual and memorable way of starting to explore some of the ideas and themes we’ll look at in the new museum.

“Scotland is home to a flourishing creative sector and we wanted to ensure we cast our net across the whole country for this, our first ‘permanent’ design statement, which will adorn our site hoardings for the next few years.

“The shortlisted designers returned a range of truly wonderful ideas and we really were spoilt for choice. However Will and David’s approach had us hooked from the beginning.”

Depute convener of Policy and Resources, Councillor Willie Sawers said: “Dundee has a long and proud history in comics and I think it is fitting to have a design like this at the Waterfront.

“The artwork depicts some of Dundee’s greatest achievements from the past, and the V&A Dundee is an important part of our future. I am positive this will be an impressive sight.”

Will Morris, the comic illustrator behind the award-winning graphic novel ‘The Silver Darlings’, said: “We were thrilled to have the chance to tell short stories that illustrate how design can find its inspiration anywhere and in turn inspire wonderful new ideas. Comics felt like the perfect way to tell those stories, especially with Dundee's amazing heritage. For someone used to seeing their work on an A4 page it's extraordinary to see it at this massive scale. We hope people enjoy it and get excited for the fantastic new museum to come.”

David Mackenzie, a graduate of the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, continues: “Having studied here in the city it’s wonderful to come back and create this giant artwork designed to involve audiences with V&A Dundee. Scaling up from our usual size has been an interesting challenge, but one we’ve relished. I’m really encouraged that the new design museum has chosen this medium to connect and engage with audiences. We hope that as many people as possible will visit the site to enjoy the comic strip first hand.”

Lorna Macaulay, Chief Executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, said: “The Harris Tweed Authority are honoured to have our story told in these beautiful hoarding boards around this iconic new building. If this is the level of creativity on the building site, I am deeply excited for what’s to come inside the building when its ready.”

Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, which operates The Falkirk Wheel, said: “As the world’s only fully-rotating boat lift, The Falkirk Wheel is a towering symbol of the legacy of innovative engineering that can be seen along Scotland’s 250-year-old canal network. We’re delighted that its iconic design has been celebrated by this new comic strip.”

Matt Zanetti, Chief Creative Officer at Guerilla Tea, said: “Guerilla Tea is very humbled to have our story told in such a creative manner by an institution as prestigious as V&A Dundee. Everyone here is incredibly proud to be part of the legacy surrounding the construction of such an important building in Scotland.”

The original design shortlist was created in consultation with leading Scottish creatives including Creative Dundee’s Gillian Easson, Creative Edinburgh’s Janine Matheson and Glasgow-based TAKTAL’s Rob Morrison.

Rob Morrison, Director at TAKTAL, said: “The design sector is remarkably strong across Scotland and increasingly these strengths are recognised at a national and international level. It was a great opportunity to be part of a network recommending some of our many creatives from our respective cities to work on this high profile project with V&A Dundee.”

‘Adventures in Design’ can be seen at the V&A Dundee construction site until 2017.

Notes to editors:

Will Morris
Will Morris is a comics creator and illustrator. He is the award-winning author of the original graphic novel The Silver Darlings, a story of superstition, youthful scepticism and comradeship within a herring fishing community. He has also produced work for a variety of publications including Nobrow, Spirou, 2000AD, Vertigo and Freight Books for the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

David Mackenzie
David MacKenzie is a freelance designer and illustrator. A graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee he can often be found working with individuals and start-ups, bringing their ideas from vision to reality, as well as producing his own expanding range of posters, products and prints.