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Visual Peace: Manchester Art Fair 2022

Art has a unique ability to transcend boundaries and communicate across diverse communities. In 2022, Lazerian at the Manchester Art Fair, hosted an exhibition that beautifully encapsulated this idea through an interactive art installation titled “Visual Peace.” At the heart of this extraordinary display was a large metal sculpture, a striking representation of the peace sign in the form of a hand extended in a ‘V’ sign.

This sculpture was a product of the National Lottery’s People Portraits Campaign, which sought to celebrate and empower the often-overlooked champions in the arts. Designed and created by Liam Hopkins of Lazerian, it carried a profound message of unity and inclusivity. What makes this artwork even more intriguing is the unique journey that led to its creation

Liam Hopkins, the creative mind behind “Visual Peace,” embarked on an inspiring journey that would ultimately result in this breathtaking masterpiece. His collaboration with the deaf rapper SignKid led him to explore sign language as an alternative means of communication. It was during this exploration that Liam discovered the simple English sign for “visual,” which he chose as a symbolic representation of the power of visuals in championing artistic expression and bridging gaps across all abilities.

A sculpture by Liam Hopkins from Lazerian Studio representing the work of deaf producer and signsong rapper, Kevin Walker aka Signkid, outside the Roundhouse in London. Picture date: Tuesday November 1, 2022. PA Photo. The artwork forms part of The National Lottery’s Peoples’ Portraits series, celebrating the work being done to make the arts accessible for all. The artwork, created by Lazerian Studios, is an interpretation of Signkid’s work, and features two hand-shaped sculptures that form the ‘V’ shape, representing the BSL symbol for ‘Visual’. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA Wire.
Two massive metal hand sculptures outside London Roundhouse, inspired by Signkid. Artist Liam Hopkins is standing proudly alongside his creations, which are a tribute to Signkid's innovative British Sign Language (BSL) adaptation

At the Manchester Art Fair, visitors had the opportunity to join Liam on a creative journey of their own. They were invited to engage with the artist and contribute to the second layer of meaning embedded in the sculpture – peace. Through this interactive experience, participants were encouraged to create their own pieces of art, thereby becoming a part of the larger narrative of “Visual Peace.”

One of the most captivating aspects of this sculpture was its choice of material – raw metal. The deliberate selection of this medium allowed imperfections such as grinding and welting marks to be showcased prominently. These marks, much like the wrinkles on a person’s hand that evolve with age and use, change over time with the weather. This dynamic quality adds to the sculpture’s allure, making it a living, breathing work of art that evolves alongside its audience.

The ability of the sculptures to capture the fluidity of hand gestures is truly remarkable. Despite their imposing size, they retain an intricate and delicate quality that serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of inclusivity in art. “Visual Peace” showcases the transformative power of creative expression and the universal language of visual art.

Liam Hopkins took the lead in ensuring that the interactive aspect of the art piece was a memorable experience for visitors. By inviting them to create their own prints in the style of the large ‘V’ shaped hand sculpture, he extended an invitation to be a part of a broader conversation about peace, unity, and the power of art.

In conclusion, “Visual Peace” at the Manchester Art Fair 2022 was not just an art installation; it was a powerful statement about the ability of art to transcend barriers and bring people together. Through its unique journey of creation, choice of material, and interactive engagement, it celebrated the beauty of imperfections and the strength of inclusivity in the world of art. This exhibition left a lasting impression on all who experienced it, reminding us that art has the power to inspire, unite, and create visual peace in our lives.