Monday, September 26, 2022

Arsenal hold fan consultation to discuss new stadium artwork

Earlier this year, Arsenal confirmed that the ‘Heroes Together’ canvas artwork that currently wraps around the exterior of Emirates Stadium is set to be replaced.

Put in place in the 2009/10 season as part of the ‘Arsenalisation’ of our then three-year-old home, they were commissioned to reflect the ‘Togetherness’ of the club and feature 32 club greats each with their arms around each other’s shoulders.

The ‘cores’, as they are known internally, were a hugely popular addition, and have served as the backdrop for countless supporter photos since.

Of course, leave anything exposed to sunlight and the elements for long enough and it’s going to get damaged. Designed to last five years, the artwork has been in place for 12 and now looks very tired, hence the decision to revamp.

After weighing up a straight swap of each of the six panels – the simplest solution – the club, keen to reflect its evolution, decided it was time for a change.

In many respects, they’ve opened Pandora’s box. The current artwork is much-loved, the current legends (and their families) take great pride in being featured, supporters aren’t quick to embrace change and then there’s the need for a discussion about what should be featured instead.

Wisely, Arsenal have decided to share the burden, announcing a fan consultation process.

On Tuesday, the first meeting took place…here’s what happened.

What was the aim of the fan consultation?

Hosted by The Tollington pub, around 60-70 people gathered for a two-hour ‘brainstorming’ session to discuss what Arsenal means to people in 2022.

Run by a third-party agency, it’s clear a fair bit of work had been done prior to the meeting to ensure there was a structure to proceedings.

Participants were allotted a table, handed six cards featuring key questions/themes and then asked to rank their top three answers for each following short group discussions.

What themes were discussed?

Amongst others:

  • What are the club’s biggest achievements that should be recognised?
  • Which individuals best represent Arsenal?
  • What is in Arsenal’s DNA?
  • Which quotes epitomise Arsenal?

Big boards, featuring example answers were on hand to provide inspiration and to fuel the discussion.

Who was involved?

The club were heavily represented. CEO Vinai Venkatesham and CMO Juliet Slot  were both present, as were the heads of marketing, comms & content, various editorial staff, supporter liaison officer Mark Brindle and the legendary ex-Arsenal Women striker Kelly Smith.

Major fan groups, participants on the Fans Forum, content creators, jewellery makers and fanzine writers were all invited to represent the voice of supporters.

The composer Mark-Anthony Turnage (responsible for the recent  ‘UP FOR GRABS NOW’  concert at the Barbican) was in attendance as were relatives of legends on the existing wrap (David Rocastle, George Armstrong, Reg Lewis, Ted Drake, Eddie Hapgood). We’ve been told that all those who feature on the ‘Heroes Together’ artwork have been notified about the upcoming changes and were invited to partake in the process.

Some of the artists/designers involved in the original ‘Arsenalisation’ process were watching from the wings while Jeremy Deller, the artist charged with coordinating the new project, floated from table to table listening in on the conversations.

Deller, who won the Turner Prize in 2004, admits to not being a big football fan but his work (conceptual, video and installation) regularly touches on themes of identity. When you look at his back catalogue it’s impossible to envisage what he (and whoever helps him) might come up with.

What won’t be happening?

Digital screens. I was told ahead of the event that Islington Council, due to light pollution concerns, were quick to nix any talk of going digital. It’s understandable, given the flats that have been built around the stadium. You can hardly have Picadilly Circus shining into people’s front rooms every day.

They won’t be changing/removing the metal artwork featuring players and quotes on the lower part of the exterior. That is staying put.

Update – the club have clarified that they are exploring an update to the metal artwork at ground level.

What happens next?

Arsenal have promised that all the fans who were part of Tuesday’s event will be kept in the loop over the coming months. The hope is to replace the artwork in time for next season although I suspect it might take longer than that. At this point, it’s better they get it right than rush things through.

As for the existing ‘Heroes Together’ artwork, there’s talk the design could be incorporated elsewhere in the stadium.

We’ll keep you updated…

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Eazy Deezy

When I saw the headline, just had to double check it wasn’t 1 April. Was expecting the article to say they’re proposing a collage of the faces of Mourinho, Terry, Van Persie and Kane (open mouthed), to get us riled up before we go in, and increase stadium atmosphere

Elise

I hope they’ll feature the women’s team also in the new artwork 🙂

Tommmy

I’m all for inclusion but it’s not the home of arsenal women come on

PolyEmery

This comment suggests otherwise…

Crimson

So your not “all for” inclusion!

Tommmy

It’s you’re*
And yes I can be for inclusion and disagree at the same time. Madness that isn’t it?
You wouldn’t wack up an U18 legend at the emirates.
They’re all completely different entities just because they share the same name doesn’t mean it’s the same thing.
We can appreciate the womens team or honour them in many different ways.

Elise

Ah cool, glad to hear that Andrew 🙂 thanks! I’ve been to the emirates as often to see the women’s as the men’s (USA so can only travel for special games; got to see the CL match vs Barca in December, and Wenger’s last home game a couple years ago), and I’ve like awkwardly taken a selfie with a Viv poster from the new line of adidas shirts…. So I’m stoked they’ll have some more dedicated artwork too.

Appels&Pere

Why the downvotes? Aren’t they part of the club?

Goonerrific

I’d like to see an updated version of the current one, because it’s fucking cool – add AW and a couple of ladies legends. Let’s please not go for some PC, tick every box of inclusivity design (yes that’s important, but it can be reflected in a myriad of other ways).

Aitcho

There’s nothing wrong with inclusively. I’d say that’s an Arsenal quality going back as far as I remember.

Aitcho

Inclusivity

LEFT08

It’s not a bad initiative & some of the people mentioned sound interesting. Let’s see what they come up with.

Appels&Pere

Does anybody know what happens to the artwork once it is taken down?

Pete Plum

I reckon you can have it

@jbrusty

I love the current artwork, but I do think Arsene Wenger should be represented more (be it artwork or statue), as he was such a big part of our move to the stadium

Der32

For the sake of representation, Ryo Miyaichi, Junichi Inamoto and Park Chu Young should also be considered.

Chinaman

You also need to add Joel Campbell, Carlos Vela, our new American GK, academy kids with parents from the middle east and the Indian origin season ticket holders

Aitcho

These are all great ideas. We were criticised for fielding a non English 11 back in the day. We were actually trailblazers. That’s why our fanbase is so wide and varied.

Der32

Kanu, Lauren & Eboue needs no mentioning, but Andre Santos should also be a given, our very own Brazilian attacking left back with a hammer left foot. Ryo Miyaichi’s penalty against a Japanese club team in Arsenal’s Japan tour is an iconic moment in itself. Arteta gave the ball to Miyaichi to score in front of his home crowd. I also seem to recall a Southeast Asian fan who chased our players’ bus for miles on foot during one of our Asian tours! Legend.

David C

Tony Adams, Henry, Bergkamp, Wright, Wenger, and Yaya Sanogo should keep everyone happy 😃

Ray's ice cream Parlour

Just Ian Wright – no one else…..

Ok – maybe Rocky aswell…

and Michael Thomas after scoring at Anfield….

Bergkamp has got to be there – best ever player….

or that might be Thierry…..

This could be a long list…….

Vieira, The Romford Pele, Corporal Jenks, Rambo (Come on – he scored two winning goals in FA cup finals), Arseblog, Gunnerblog, and my Mum !!!!

Alex

I have zero trust in committees

Monrealist

So we’re all agreed on a huge mural of Stan Kroenke smoking a cigar sat on a throne of dollar bills?

johntheguv

There should be pictorial reference to some of the iconic moments in our history – ’71 double Charlie George moment … ’89 Michael Thomas … etc. … I imagine that with today’s technology very accurate images can be produced … there should be a section featuring our ladies teams achievements and players … former managers … Rocky “Remember who you are, who you represent … ” maybe aligned to the charitable work and good causes the club supports. I would like to see a splash more of our yellow and blue colours and maybe a montage of our clubs cannon… Read more »

Moff

Separate to the specific discussion I know, but when is the club going to honour Wenger’s legacy and erect a statue of him outside the stadium to go alongside the likes of Adams, Henry & Bergkamp?

Surely out of anyone in our history this man deserves to be feted and duly honoured with such a statue. It is criminally overdue and I feel uncomfortable that this hasn’t taken place already.

Would love it if the club could work that into their stadium revamp discussions.

johntheguv

I think I read that it’s already planned and possibly the sculpture has been commissioned …

Andrew

I’d love to see the Younger players but on it. The likes of Saka and Smith Rowe and maybe Martinelli along with a few of the Legends like Henry and Bergkamp

Mike Simpson

What about the stairwells inside the stadium?

Gunner73

I like the idea of commemorating players and history but have always thought it looked cheap and temporary round the stadium. I don’t think the emirate’s has ever looked “finished” as a piece of architecture. They need to get this right, so many stadiums are going up which could end up making the emirate’s look dated and this is a good chance to get it right for the long term. Get some architects involved!

Gunner73

Maybe make the “cores” Art Deco red and white style similar to the east and west stands of Highbury? That could look pretty classy!

Ukesox

Regarding “improvements”, I’d settle for a decent PA system & someone operating it who knows what they’re doing.

Emi Rates

As long as there’s Tierney clutching a Tesco shopping bag I don’t care about the rest.

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