Design for art’s sake

Design for art’s sake

2 June 2016 |
Posted in Photography | Signage

A 40-foot pencil that’s emerged on hoardings along a guided busway in Cambridge is raising eyebrows and setting tongues wagging. It asks members of the public an age-old philosophical question…

What is knowledge? Cambridge Assessment, which manages Cambridge University’s exam boards, wants to know. For its project involving visual arts company Commission Projects, Cambridge Assessment has asked Silk Pearce to create a concept for a dynamic hoardings design that incorporates the iconic question. The design aims to inspire people to take part in a piece of art to be created by Turner Prize nominated artists Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier.

Already, members of the public are getting involved and for good reason. The artwork will form the glass façade of Cambridge Assessment’s new headquarters - a landmark building to be known as The Triangle. According to recent news, the art by Phaophanit and Oboussier will provide its 33m entrance feature and grace the top of the building’s 39.1m tower.


A dynamic design

Our giant pencil, which stretches across the hoardings that conceal the build site, is difficult to miss for passers by. Those who choose to answer its famous philosophical question, ‘What is knowledge?’ could have their responses immortalised in the building’s iconic glass artwork. Meanwhile, our design will evolve over the next two years as the new Cambridge Assessment building takes shape. Gradually, the pencil will become shorter and shorter as the public’s answers are incorporated into the design.

Solving life’s problems

Our greatest technical challenge was creating the large-scale image of a standard pencil. Using the services of photographer Bruce Head, we found a way to create a high-resolution image that stretches across 10 of the 12 hoardings. We divided the pencil into five sections, and then combined nine photographs of each section to make up the whole image. In total, we blended 45 images of the pencil for optimum sharpness and detail, resulting in a striking and visually intriguing design that’s inspiring people across Cambridge to take part in art.


If you’d like to know more about how we created this design, please get in touch.