For the last 12 years, the Emirates Stadium in north London has been wrapped with images of iconic players from Arsenal’s past. Many of those familiar faces will still adorn the building’s exterior, but in an altogether different – and far more individual – style, as the club reveals a new suite of artworks to wrap the stadium. The timing arguably couldn’t have been more convenient, arriving in the same season as a change in fortune for the men’s side.
The new wrap comprises eight artworks, which have been developed with the help of Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, graphic designer David Rudnick and satirical illustrator Reuben Dangoor. It’s a strong trifecta of talent, but they wouldn’t have achieved the same results without the contribution of over 100 members of the Arsenal community, from supporters to staff, as well as former players and the families of those that are no longer here.
Revered players and managers feature prominently in the project, including Thierry Henry, Alex Scott, Ian Wright and Arsène Wenger. Depicting so many treasured figures was a particular joy for self-described “lifelong Gooner” Dangoor, who is known for his obscure, collage-like illustrations of life in Britain.
Among his pieces are Victoria Concordia Crescit – named after the club’s motto, which was launched in 1913 when it moved from Woolwich to north London. The piece is inspired by paintings of the French Revolution, the club’s cannon emblem offering a neat segue between these two otherwise disparate contexts.
Arsenal endured another move in 2006, this time from Highbury to its current home, the Emirates Stadium. The Highbury ground is commemorated in Remember Who You Are, after a significant number of supporters mentioned the club’s former home during workshops, which indicated to Dangoor that it needed to have a presence in the project.
The artist was also responsible for several other pieces that pay homage to significant squads in its history as well as its links to Islington for the last 110 years. Dangoor’s final contribution to the project is a seemingly mammoth operation currently in the works. The artwork, called Found A Place Where We Belong, will represent over 700 supporters from the club’s long history.
Several of the pieces conceived by Jeremy Deller draw on the club’s iconography, such as the cannon and the Ermine graphic motif. These works also speak to football’s rich connection to textiles with the help of banner-maker Ed Hall, who hand-crafted a number of banners that were then photographed to create the final images.
Rudnick was also involved in these pieces, drawing on workshops with the club and its supporters to inform the lettering. Come to See the Arsenal uses a modified version of the club’s new font, Northbank, which itself was inspired by typography seen around the stadium. Meanwhile, Eighteen Eighty-Six, which celebrates the club’s founding year, uses a custom typeface developed by Rudnick that’s been designed to feel at once traditional and future-facing.
The idea was to “craft a set of voices incorporating both patterns and symbols synonymous with Arsenal”, along with a “clean typographic system”, according to Rudnick.
Another banner design celebrates 150 official supporter groups across the world, bringing together 187 banners and flags that were similarly handmade and shot before being compiled in a larger tapestry.
The pieces are being installed around the Emirates Stadium in north London over the next few weeks, and are demonstrative of the rising interest in the intersection between design and football, arriving hot on the heels of the Design Museum’s landmark exhibition, Designing the Beautiful Game, and Oof Gallery’s continued run of thought-provoking shows.
Oof’s relationship with Tottenham Hotspur has undoubtedly ushered in a novel look at football beyond the pitch, and it would seem Arsenal has similar ambitions – beginning with these new stadium artworks, which aim to “redefine the club’s home as a cultural landmark”.