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Two Hull artists have stepped out of their comfort zones and into virtual reality to make their latest masterpieces.
Acclaimed Hull landscape artist Shirley Goodsell and Iain Musgrave, who mixes photography with art to create digital scenes of the city, both took part in an experiment to see what they could create using the latest VR technology.
The pair were invited by telecoms company KCOM to try their hand at Google Tiltbrush, which pitches users into a virtual world where they can paint in 3D. The technology enables artists to escape from the confines of a traditional 2D canvas to create fully immersive pieces of art.
With a temporary studio set up in the UK City of Culture’s home of art – the Ferens Art Gallery - the artists were let loose to see how their artistic talents would flourish behind a visor headset and two VR controllers containing all their virtual palettes and brushes.
Shirley Goodsell, whose exhibition A Family’s Journey Through Hull’s Old Town was a major hit at venues across the city earlier this year, admitted painting in 3D was “well out of my comfort zone”.
“I don’t find it particularly suitable for the type of work I do,” says former art teacher Shirley, who usually uses oils on canvas, “but I’ve enjoyed the experience very much. I understand how it would be perfect for modern sculpture.
“It has a very sculptural feel when you’re using it. It feels very kinetic; it reminds me a lot of Miro, the Spanish artist, and one of his sculptures.”
As well as being used as an artistic tool VR technology has a whole host of real world applications such as engineering, industry, design and training for the emergency services.
And as more people adopt smart technology, Virtual and Augmented Reality look set to be one of the next major growth areas both at home and in the workplace.
Iain Musgrave, who showcases his mixed media scenes of Hull on Twitter using the handle @digihull, said he was delighted to be checking out VR technology.
“I’ve wanted to have a go at this for a while,” says the professional graphic designer. “I’ve always had a fascination with technology - and especially the technology side of painting – so I’m like a kid in a sweet shop with this. I got a pen for my iPad about two years ago and my interest in digital art grew from there really.”
Iain, who created a 3D recreation of Queen Victoria Square - complete with shimmering fountains and City of Culture illuminations, said he believed the software would help introduce whole new audiences to art.
You can explore Iain’s vision of Victoria Square, which comes complete with a miniature Peter Levy stood outside Queens Gardens, below. You can manoeuvre your way through Iain's virtual Hull by clicking on the 3D image and zooming in and out of the picture.
“I can see it helping a lot of people to enjoy painting and drawing. I can particularly see kids who are more used to gaming and computers spending hours in this – losing track of time while they create their paintings.
“The technology behind it is very clever and it gives you the potential to keep on creating. I can see people painting whole worlds in this.