If I were to choose anybody or anything to encapsulate the very essence of Born in Britain, it would be Sheffield-based artist Jonathan Wilkinson’s “We Live Here” project. Not only was both the artist and the project forged and nurtured within the UK (Sheffield, Nottingham and Leeds to be precise) but the focus of “We Live Here” is on the iconic buildings and urban landscapes that shape the British cities in which we all reside.
Sitting comfortably somewhere between illustration and photography, the prints and products that make up “We Live Here” aim to connect local culture with art, and explore what it is that makes people love where they live. Wilkinson usually uses just two or three colours in his prints, thus playing with the conventional day-to-day imagery that people associate with their town and transforming it into something unusual and striking. According to his website, he enjoys manipulating the visual aesthetic of these ‘unconventionally beautiful’ buildings in his own individual artistic style and hopes he encourages people to think a little differently about the buildings that make up their daily surroundings.
All Wilkinson’s work is created from scratch – nothing is copied or traced, and he builds every unique image from nothing to the finished article. Though “We Live Here” has a predominately-northern flavour, Wilkinson has also occasionally strayed south of the boarder, such as in his rendering of London’s Trellick Tower. His work does not stop at simply prints, either; there are a number of unusual gifts on his website featuring his images, notably a pair of Cooling Tower earrings (the Sheffield Cooling Towers, also known as “the salt and pepper pots” were the focus of the first ever “We Live Here” print in 2007, but were demolished in the August of 2008).
Recently, Wilkinson has embarked on a new project entitled “Britarama”. Still focusing on the modern British landscape but this time celebrating the unassuming as well as the iconic, the images all capture places that hold a special significance for the artist. All the works in “Britarama” are produced using traditional landscape-painting techniques, to which Wilkinson applies his own distinctive twist, and examine the commonplace details and little tranquilities that make up our everyday lives.