Sophie von Hellermann vies for indoor mural world record at Colchester firstsite

By Richard Moss | 28 May 2013

Exhibition preview: Sophie von Hellermann: Elephant in the Room, firstsite, Colchester, until August 26 2013

a mural painting of a fish
Sophie von Hellermann, One Slipped Through the Net (2013)© Courtesy the artist; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles: Greene Naftali, New York; and Vilma Gold London
The heyday of the mural may have passed, but a new world record may be in the offing at Colchester gallery firstsite, where painter Sophie von Hellermann has just produced what is believed to be the largest indoor mural painted by a single artist.

The work, which is on public display from until August 26, covers 147.7 metres of the gallery’s curved, 45 degree angled wall and runs the length of the building.

Measuring 696.98 m2 in total, it is the centrepiece of an exhibition called An Elelphant in the Room, featuring a series of slightly less monumental paintings by the German artist whose stock in trade is large pastel-washed dreamlike works containing elaborate narratives and symbols.

As well as several new paintings, Hellermann has produced two three-dimensional painted works, including a 7.5-metre high "bonfire" inspired by the witch trials held in Essex during the English Civil War.

For the firstsite mural, called The Bigger Picture, she spent two weeks under the full scrutiny of the visiting public interpreting the history of Colchester from Roman times to the present.

Visitors may be able to discern the form of Queen Boudicca in the artist’s shadowy washes, together with Saint Helena (the town’s patron saint), the Norman Castle and other scenes drawn from several millennia of Colchester history, legend and mythology.

The mural culminates in a dramatic battle scene of the town under siege in 1648, which is painted on an 8.8-metre high wall.

Her most extensive work to date, the impressive mural was executed by hand without any detailed plans or sketches.

The current record for the largest indoor mural is held by six artists for a work measuring 904 metres square in Gwalior, India in 2005. There is currently no record for a work by a single artist.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @firstsite.

More Pictures:

a painting of a large elephant in a room
Lions’ Den (2013)© Courtesy the artist; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles: Greene Naftali, New York; and Vilma Gold London
a painting of a pride of lions
Lions' Den (2013)© Courtesy the artist; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles: Greene Naftali, New York; and Vilma Gold London
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