Each of these striking vivid blue paintings are painted in oils on china clay board. They are approximately 3 metres in height and suggest the human form. The collection of paintings developed within the concept of having their own environment which led to the MONUMENTS installation being born which ranges in size to over 10 meters long, 6 metres wide and over 3 metres high depending on where it is located. The structure was designed by Duffy and built in the different locations by various teams under his guidance. The exterior is black and the interior white.
The first MONUMENTS installation was in the disused architectural masterpiece Martins Bank Building Liverpool and part of the Independent Biennial during the Liverpool Capital of Culture year 2008. It was sponsored by Barclays Bank who owned the building. In 2009 it was installed in the vast Anglican Cathedral Liverpool by the request of Archbishop Justin Welby, then the Dean. In 2011 installed in the 16th century Palazzo Contarini in Venice during the 2011 Venice Biennale and sponsored by Sothebys. In 2012 installed in the enormous subterranean level of the Brunswick Centre Bloomsbury London and opened by the Duchess of Bedford to promote the launch of the Bloomsbury Arts Festival.
Each location is chosen for its architectural, historical, cultural uniqueness which is reflected in the subtext. At Martins Bank it was entitled: ‘Without History there is no Future’ reflecting upon the history of slavery that the bank was originally funded from in the 18th century. At Liverpool Cathedral entitled: ‘Does Mankind Survive through Sacrifice?’ reflecting upon Jesus’s symbolic sacrifice for the resurrection of all humanity. In Venice it was entitled: ‘In Venice we realise something more fragile than ourselves’, reflecting upon our fascination for Venice, its comparison with our fragile existence. Finally, in Bloomsbury it was entitled: ‘Between the beneath and the above’, reflecting upon it’s subterranean level, stark contrast between the harsh concrete interior and the fragile nature of the paintings.
There is a spirituality within the installation, it is after all a sanctuary, a place to reflect, it is full of light. The 3metre high paintings in oils on board appear to float on the walls of the vast monolith. The effect is strangely ethereal. The torn, etched, scraped, scratched and brushed images flooded with deep, translucent blues carry us backwards and forwards between the beneath and the above of their surface and also the building. These paintings push the boundaries of abstract art and painting itself. They are unique.