Commissioned by The University Of Sheffield in February 2016 to paint 24m of construction hoarding under the concourse outside the students union which was erected for the essential bridge maintenance that was taking place. Originally intended to only be in place for three months, due to its popularity, the piece stayed many months after the work was complete, lasting approximately a year and a half.
This was my first anamorphic piece using just a single plane of perspective. I had full creative freedom for this so took the opportunity to explore some ideas and try something new. As tempting as it was to design and paint something totally personal, I felt I had a duty to paint something typographical that related to, and that could inspire its audience. I came up with the phrase when I asked myself – ‘what do you go to uni for?” then cut this into my tech wave pattern, creating a Trompe L’oeil piece which had viewers walking right up to it to check if it was indeed three dimensional.


Presenting the Dazzle Room. An immersive puzzle room for The Great Escape, Sheffield. When asked to create a room for them I saw it as an amazing opportunity to create something completely immersive and engaging. For those unfamiliar with live escape games, they generally comprise of themed room for groups of 2-6 players, filled with codes and clues with which the players have to solve in order to escape. The beauty of their games is they blindfold the players first and lead them into the rooms, positioning them at specific points (often handcuffed and padlocked in). This posed a unique opportunity for using the anamorphic technique to create optical illusions. Having created anamorphic art in public locations a number of times now, I have found that unless it is made obvious, the general public can find it hard to locate the correct viewpoint. The unique difference here being that players are walked in blindfolded then positioned in the specific viewpoints, the illusion, therefore, will be visible as soon as they take the blindfold off.

The idea for an optical illusion room came from previous work and study into Dazzle Camouflage. Developed in WW1 for the concealment of naval ships, these huge vessels were painted with complex monochromatic patterns of geometric shapes, interrupting and intersecting each other and altering their perspectives. Taking this concept I theorised how, together with perspective anamorphosis, the shape and perspective of a room could be altered, giving the illusion it is larger than it actually is, for example.

That is how the first corner effect was created, giving the illusion a corridor is present when in reality there is just a flat wall. The second corner was a continuation from the first, using similar intersecting shapes but on a more vertical perspective. I had it in mind that each corner would be a different experience for each player. So the third and fourth corners contrast somewhat and focus more on optical illusions. I had wanted to paint isometric cubes like this for a while now, and love the effect of a floating ‘Iso wall’. The final corner came from experimenting with isometric cubes and the shape of their silhouette, a hexagon. I found creating contrasting concentric hexagons had quite an effect on the eye. And when painted with anamorphosis, on the ceiling and floor as well as two perpendicular walls, it had even more of an effect.

Their only requirement for this room was that it needed to have a code hidden within the artwork. This posed quite a challenge but after much experimentation, I devised a mirror puzzle. I took a blocky typeface and selected four suitable digits. I split each one apart so there were then two halves of random looking shapes. When these are combined together they make the whole. To turn this into an actual puzzle I took one half of each number, reversed them and cut stencils approximately 30cm in height. I sprayed these at specific positions on the walls and camouflaged them further by inverting them against a wave pattern. For the other half of each digit, I cut the shapes out of vinyl and applied to a mirror. To discover the number, players must stand with their backs to the shapes on the wall and position the mirror so the reflection of the shapes fill the gaps of the shapes on the mirror. Once they have discovered each number they must enter them into a lockbox which reveals the key to open the door to move onto the next room. As difficult to realise as it is to explain. And a fairly difficult puzzle with a 50% achievement rate.

The whole room was a massive undertaking, but an achievement none the less.