Oxford Castle and the Enchanted Forest
Public Realm New Talent
Commissioned by Helen Statham at Oxford Castle Quarter and O3 Gallery.
Charlotte Orr is a Freelance Illustrator and Muralist who graduated from Falmouth University in 2013. Since then she has been commissioned for a variety of clients including The Folio Society, The Pitt Rivers Museum, The Oxford Castle, and various clients throughout Oxfordshire. Charlotte uses mostly traditional, hand-rendered techniques, specifically painting, pen and ink, with a touch of digital work to finish it off. She has recently moved to Berlin in order to further develop her career.
Oxford Castle and the Enchanted Forest is a large-scale mural painted entirely by hand. Stretching the full length of a 120 feet courtyard, it depicts the castle within a mysterious, moonlit forest. Merging different stories and scenes from the castle's history, such as the escape of Empress Matilda in 1141 from the Norman tower, through the centuries to Victorian times when the castle became Oxford’s local prison.
In her own words, Charlotte explains " this project was by far the biggest challenge since graduating and I am delighted to be selected as a winner. I hope this award will help to open more doors as I continue to pursue a career in illustration."
To design and paint an outdoor mural with the theme of an enchanted forest, taking into consideration the history and heritage of the castle setting. Also, to tie in with the current exhibition 'Winter Moon' at the O3 Gallery (situated opposite the mural at the Oxford Castle).
External weather-shield paint on plywood hoarding.
I started by taking a tour of the Oxford Castle to note down interesting stories from the castle's history with my camera in hand. I was particularly interested in how the castle building has changed and evolved over many years as I wanted to depict bits of the castle as they used to look, rather than how they have been redeveloped. I also took record of the clothes that people would have worn during different time periods, researched from illustrations within the Oxford Castle "Unlocked" Museum.
Initial sketches in Indian ink and brush with design ideas for approval by client. Sketchbook work with more detailed designs and colour tests. To scale drawing to be followed when drawing free-hand onto the mural. Painted on-site directly onto hoarding in situ at the Oxford Castle.
There were very few, but undoubtedly the most serious was the cold, wind and rain. I was painting outside throughout December wearing as many layers as I could get on and still able to move my arms!
I had to trust my instincts with this project as no prep work would help to predict exactly how it would turn out. I built the mural up in layers, firstly blocking in the background colours, then adding tone and layering up the detail. I found the work physically exhausting as I was up and down a ladder all day and constantly taking a step back to see how it looked from afar. I've hidden a little mouse somewhere within the mural and it is your job to find it!
Members of the public passing by and stopping to ask what I was doing as well as the many chats with the lunch-time regulars of the nearby pub.
960 squared feet, 16 pots of paint, 6 weeks and 1 right arm.
Despite the challenge of undertaking something unfamiliar on such a big scale, I got great satisfaction from this project and would love to do a similar project again.