City College Brighton & Hove

Patrick O’Donnell, who works as a senior Teaching Support Assistant with City College Brighton and Hove’s Visual Arts department, has created a striking example of public art to celebrate and promote the artistic life of Brighton’s Phoenix Gallery. The large-scale (28 metres by 10 metres) work entitled ‘Portrait of the Artist – the face behind the façade’ is displayed on the advertising hoarding at the front of the Phoenix Building opposite St Peter’s Church and features Patrick’s pencil portraits of all the Phoenix Art studio members.

The brief for Patrick’s commission required his work to be site-specific - an instantly recognisable image that would register with passing drivers and offer pedestrians the opportunity to stop and engage - but some of the corporate advertisements previously displayed on the hoarding used expanses of strong colour which had affected the quality of light in the artist’s studios housed within the building. “My solution was to create a drawing on neutral white paper using economical pencil lines to capture each artist, resulting in minimal impact to the studio members when the piece was installed”, explains Patrick. “By revealing what goes on within the Phoenix on the exterior facade, I hope I’ve helped to put the building and all its inhabitants firmly in the public eye.”

A spokesperson from Phoenix said: “Patrick's image puts human faces onto an otherwise faceless building, and projects an often solitary and private activity into a busy urban space. After three months, with hundreds of pedestrians and over 90,000 motorists passing the building, people entering the city can't help but know about us!”

Patrick, who originally trained in Fine Art Painting at Southampton Institute, says his role within City College’s Visual Arts department was highly influential when it came to tackling such a challenging project:

The amazing work that both the tutors and students do has been a real inspiration to my own work. We’re constantly discussing with students the fact that all art is about finding the solution to a problem, whether it’s fulfilling a design brief in a fashion, graphic or 3D design project, or creating a drawing, painting or sculpture that communicates what the learner wanted to say. The importance of deadlines and the professional expectations of future employers and collaborators is something we’re constantly stressing to students so when I took on this commission, I very much had to practice what I preach!”

For more information on City College’s Art & Design courses, call 01273 667759, email or see

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 About City College Brighton and Hove: Situated in the heart of Brighton and graded ‘Outstanding’ in key areas by Ofsted in its June 2011 report, City College Brighton and Hove is an international centre of vocational excellence and one of the top performing Further Education Colleges in the country. Every year, 2,000 full-time, 7,000 part time, 400 Higher Education and 400 14-16 year old students as well as many international and European students choose City College as their place of further and higher education training. In addition, the College provides training to over 2,000 businesses via its ‘City Business Skills’ department which focuses on employer training needs. Offering over 700 courses from basic level right through to business and postgraduate training, City College is working with its partners to develop the workforce of the future. 


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