Livia Fresco Secco

Huge set of 24 panels re-imagining a Roman Garden fresco



Client: Hackett Holland Architects Ltd.

Location: private residential, Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, London

Date: 2011

Site photography: Simon Bevan

Behind the Scenes

The Project in Brief

When the owner of a large Notting Hill house needed a clever way to cover a two storey wall during a rebuild, his art consultant Emma Rutherford approached me to supply the artwork. In liaison with architects Hackett Holland I supplied various proposals and the one chosen was a version of the famous, ancient garden fresco from the Villa of Livia near Rome. I was thrilled to be working with this fantastic wall painting which runs around all four walls. I had long admired this imaginary paradise and now I would get to scrutinise it in detail. The original fresco, which was transferred to the Museo Nazionale Romano in 1955, is only about 2.5m high. To fit the client’s nearly 6.5m wall I created a new composition in Photoshop using many photographs. I layered the scene upwards using treelines from the other walls and adding extra sky whilst flipping trees and moving birds around to get the right balance for this new space.

After this complex computer re-modelling the action moved to my studio where I brought studio partner David Cutmore onboard to help with the painting. The design was to run across a set of 24 panels, painted in fresco secco then mounted on aluminium to prevent distortion. Each panel measured 140 x 135cm and the whole piece took six months to complete. To give the overall piece an ancient and distressed look we rubbed back and cracked the plaster surface (even ensuring the cracks from one panel joined those of the next), then waxed and buffed the lot before sending them to be installed by professionals onsite.