Killer app: The writing is on the wall thanks to Liberty Signs

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, October 22, 2021

After a year of lockdowns, for 2021 the organisers of July’s Manchester International Festival (MIF) wanted to commission something that encouraged residents to reconnect with their city through the use of captivating public artwork.

Artist Christine Sun Kim created ‘Captioning a City’, a series of statements to help trigger memories, emotions, and sensations, that were installed on internal windows, external windows, and external brickwork at various locations – buildings and streets – across the city.

What was produced?
Manchester-based Liberty Signs was appointed to produce and install the 24 giant captions, which at around 40 linear metres each totalled over 900m of print.

What did the job entail?
The captions were designed by Sun Kim and these were then converted into digital copies for print by a graphic designer from MIF.

Most of the files were produced without the building dimensions taken into account. This meant that once Liberty Signs had surveyed all the desired locations for the installs, it then had to tweak the captions slightly to ensure they fitted properly onto each one.

Using sustainable materials was crucial as the project was government funded. Liberty Signs therefore encouraged MIF to consider using only PVC-free materials that could be fully recycled.

“Using PVC-free/recyclable materials was of the utmost importance to us, as we knew before starting the project the sheer amount of material/waste it would take to create such a project,” said Liberty Signs owner Will Smith.

“So to avoid seeing it all go to landfill we suggested to the client that we wanted to use PVC-free material, which they were delighted to agree to.

“We decided to go with [materials supplied by] Innotech Digital as they had an extensive range and knowledge of PVC-free materials which we felt other companies lacked.”

180mic Vistamax PVC-free static cling clear and white film was used for the internal windows, 100mic Vistamax PVC-free semi-permanent block out film for the external windows, and 100mic Vistamax PVC-free high tack grey back material for the external brickwork installations.

The captions were printed on the company’s Epson SureColor SC-S80600 eco-solvent machine and HP Latex 360 and finished on two Summa D160 cutters.

What challenges were overcome?
Liberty Signs had to produce all the graphics to a tight deadline, as permission from the buildings involved to install the captions was given with just five days to spare.

And it was all hands on deck to get the printing done in time for the pre-show launch event at the National Football Museum, which was the largest installation with 90m of output applied to the building.

What was the feedback?
One MIF organiser commented: “Looking back on it now, it’s so amazing that we pulled it off. It was a beautiful campaign overall and I’m very proud of what everyone achieved.”

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