Merchants Academy

First Impression, 2009. Tod Hanson. Photo: James Harris.


The Merchants’ Academy Art Programme was an exciting and innovative series of artists’ commissions and student activities within the provision of the new Academy.


A number of student projects were outlined with Young Enterprise (YE) which offered students a range of learning activities that encourage responsibility for management, sales and marketing. Older students worked on projects that brought them into contact with professionals from the Creative Industries, and younger students were involved in projects focussing on the environment of their new school. These projects compliment the two main integrated, permanent artist commissions within the school.

For the first commission, artist Tod Hanson painted directly onto the facade and interior walls of the Academy. Hanson worked with pupils, staff and the Academy architect, Penoyre and Prasad, to develop his vibrant and distinctive designs, which incorporate elements of traditional heraldry and the crests of Bristol coats of arms and the Merchant Venturers, the Academy sponsors.

The second commission was by Glasgow based artist Stephen Skrynka. His work Resurgam, located in the central courtyard, incorporates a marble clad pod dotted with tiny portholes, through which to view a time lapse film of the previous school being graffitied and subsequently demolished.

Both artists consulted and worked with groups of young people during the development of these projects, giving a voice to young people throughout the implementation of the art programme. The works succeed in building awareness of the role of creativity within the school environment and contribute to the identity of the Academy.

Tod Hanson

Tod Hanson born 1963 is a London-based painter and graphic artist working across the fields of public art, street art, and gallery installation. His work is concerned with "a world over amplified and speeding up". He has exhibited extensively both in the UK and abroad.

In 1991, Tod decorated both LSE bar and The Brain in Soho. In the 1990s he worked on a series of large scale graphic works for GreenpeaceUK,including a painting of planet earth, suspended over the main stage at the Glastonbury Festival. In 1994, he worked with Greenpeace to target Tesco's by painting Fiasco an exhibition truck highlighting the use of ozone destroying refrigeration systems. Throughout the 1990s Hanson designed anti-nuclear and renewable energy graphics for Greenpeace actions and for anti-road protests. He also created murals for a number of venues including Backspace, the Rich and Famous gallery and Barouge at the Swiss Expo.

Hanson has had a number of Solo shows including the Jerwood Artists platform at Cell Project Space in 2006. Group shows include: Graphic Detour, Museum of Graphic Design, Breda, Holland (2011); Coalesce, Smart Project Space, Amsterdam(2009); and Pressing Inertia, Spike Island, Bristol (2008).

Stephen Skrynka

Stephen gained his MA(des) at Glasgow School of Art following his studies in Cabinet Making and a BA(Hons) Architecture at Manchester University. He is interested in using everyday situations and objects in new ways, as he has stated, "Behind everything ordinary lurks the fabulous, every fragment or object has its own story to tell. Using any medium or material I can lay my hands on, my work is constantly trying to return to a place where it does not quite belong".

His exhibitions include (93) New Arts, Kelvingrove, Glasgow; (95) La Festa del Maiale, Intermedia Gallery, Glasgow; (95) Fife Artbus solo exhibition; (95) SWARM SAC Travelling Gallery; (93)Turbulence, New York; (94) Kunstverein, Cologne; (98) MacTotem An Lanntair, Lewis; (99) R-cade, Glasgow Print Studio; (99)Luna Rova, Barcelona; (99) intermedia, Glasgow.

Artist-initiated projects include Borrowed Light 1996 with Peter McCaughey reactivating 36 basement sites throughout Glasgow using glass, light, sound, kinetics & moving image. Tunnel 1998/2000 in Glasgow’s neglected Clyde Cycle and Pedestrian Tunnel, a large scale multi media event using sound, light and performance in half a mile of tunnel (taking place May 2000).

Stephen has held a number of residencies and appointments including artist-in-residence at Chelsea Borough Council. In 1995-6 he was MA External Assessor at the Glass Department Edinburgh School of Art. He has tutored at the architecture dept., Strathclyde University and in 1994 was co-ordinator of the "Breathe" artists exchange Glasgow/Munich. From 1983-86 Stephen set up The Glass Studio in Camden, London.

Ginkgo Projects

Ginkgo Projects is an independent consultancy offering art curation and commissioning services to a wide range of clients.

Our philosophy is driven by a desire to create unique opportunities for artists and designers. We aim to contribute fresh perspectives to built and natural environments that challenge assumptions about the spaces we inhabit.

Our clients include developers, local authorities, landscape and architectural practices and environmental and arts organisations. We create real opportunities for clients and artists to produce innovative work appropriate to the context, whether this is a new building or public space, work that is integrated into a space, stand-alone work or exhibition.

  • Commissioner

    The Merchants' Academy Trust

  • Produced by

    Ginkgo Projects

  • Partners

    Penoyre & Prasad (Architect), Grant Associates and AWW (Landscape Architects)

  • Supported by

    The Merchants' Academy Trust