The M8 Art Project
‘Air in Airdrie’ and ‘Looking Right’ are two of five artworks by French artist, Martine Neddam, which constitute the Sentinel Art Project. Art in Partnership developed the project with the former Monklands District Council, following a successful application to the National Lottery in 1995.
The ‘trail’ of artworks are designed to mark the gateway leading from the M8 Shawhead Interchange along the A725 and A89 to the main centres of Coatbridge and Airdrie.
'Air in Airdrie’ is situated on the main roundabout approaching the Airdrie Town Centre. The site, surrounded by a mix of commercial developments, the bus station and supermarket car parks, lacked a single coherent landmark.
Martine Neddam’s main interest is in language which led her to use the town’s name of Airdrie as the starting point for this work. Her practice in the application of new technologies and image manipulation allowed her to rearrange and recompose the images taken from the surrounding townscape so that the artwork gave prominence to the name of Airdrie. The photographic imagery on the surface reflects back a 360 degree view seen of the surrounding area from the centre point of the roundabout.
The structure of the work - looking rather like a giant lampshade glowing softly at night - consists of a 10m high backlit polycarbonate cone supported on a frame of aluminium and hung from a blue steel pole positioned in the centre of the roundabout at a dynamic 25 degrees.
'Looking Right' is situated on the main roundabout approaching Coatbridge town centre on the A89 which leads off the M8 motorway. On her approach to the concept for the work, the artist said:
“I think the piece should relate with traffic and the motorist first of all. This is part of our cities and of our daily lives, and these also deserve their artworks.”
Neddam said she imagined that the circle of lamps represented a group of modern day 'sentinels` “watching gently over the motorists” and forming a landmark of lights at the entrance to the town.
Neddam’s interest in the use of language comes in to play in the use of text in this artwork. The words ‘Looking Right’ are depicted in stainless steel tubing - an instruction to road users that the artist noticed many times. The word ‘LOOKING’ faces one way, and the word ‘RIGHT’ appears like a mirror image on the other side, suggesting that there is not just one way of looking right.