Together We Can Do So Much
UK Artist Mark Titchner designed ‘Together We Can Do So Much’, an eight-metre wood relief piece, for the Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children. The artwork was commissioned by GOSH Arts, specifically for the building. Mark works in a range of media and uses found text to explore shared values and beliefs. A Turner Prize nominee, much of his recent work has been based in the public realm both in the UK and internationally.
We spoke to Mark to find out more about his creative process.
“I wanted to make something that was connected to the larger themes in the Centre - people working together, interaction and the interface of the building between the clinicians, staff and patients.
“I found a longer quote from [20th century advocate for disability rights] Helen Keller which is "Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much”. The second part of that really seemed to sum up the spirit of what is going on at the Centre. Even more so because Helen Keller lost her sight and her hearing through childhood disease and then went on to achieve things that maybe seemed impossible at a certain point.”
Creating the artwork
The design features interweaving pathways to represent the collaborative vision for the building. Talking about the materials used in the piece, Mark shares: “The work itself is a wooden carpentry piece. It's 8 and a half metres wide, so it’s pretty big. It took 18 months in the commissioning process, and then the last 4 months working hard to get it ready!
“It's made of a material called Valcromat which was then veneered with wood. The design is then machined into the piece which gives a black outline framing the colour. The different areas have been stained to give the effect of marquetry. So it’s painted and stained by hand after being cut by a machine.”
Using direct text
“I'm very interested in direct text, which is appropriate for this setting, as I always try to think about whether a child could understand a message. I try not to use complicated words but enjoy the fact that the idea can still be complicated – such as, what does 'together' mean? What does 'so much' mean? What do all these words mean to different people?
“Sometimes messages can be more ambiguous but in this case it’s purely to try and be supportive. Also because it’s so apparent upon entering the building, it’s even more important that everyone involved in the building takes ownership of it.”
Zayed Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children
The purpose-built Zayed Centre for Research brings together pioneering research and clinical care under one roof in a world-first that will help to drive forward new treatments and cures for seriously ill children from across the UK and international patients.The state-of-the-art facilities will enable hundreds of researchers and clinicians to work side by side, so that patients will benefit from the latest developments in the laboratory, accelerating the progress of new diagnoses, treatments and cures for rare and complex diseases. The results could help change the lives of children both nationally and globally.