David Thomas, has achieved his aim of creating the world's largest indoor painting. Sizeable in both scale and symbolism, the collaboration of 20 talented street artists has produced a mural that explores the most prominent economic languages spoken around the world.
The project has surpassed ‘Shyam Vatika’ in India, which is currently officially registered as the largest indoor mural, measuring 904 square metres (9,730 sq ft). But Thomas’ painting is well in excess of 1000 square metres.
“Vatika was just a landscape painting,” Thomas tells me at the Speakbook centre. “However, we have a different concept allowing many different artists to showcase their skills. This is sort of the opposite to an art gallery, where the paintings have borders and the walls are white,” Thomas continues, “our drawings have no borders.”
Each painting offers a snapshot of facts about the respective countries in which the languages are spoken, intended to promote further integration of different cultures by bridging the language gap - something Thomas has experience of. “When my partner said she wanted the best for her children, we moved them to a French school in southern Spain and used an Arabic nanny,” Thomas explains. “This gave them four languages for free!” And yet, this level of multilingualism pales in comparison to some cultures: “Australian aborigines speak 20 local languages,” Thomas tells me, alongside his hopes that Speakbook will invite other parents into a dialogue about diversity.
Diversity and innovation lie at the heart of all that Thomas curates; whether that means the organisation of Speakbook’s forthcoming ‘selfie competition’ or the ‘Funny Dunny’ – a Japanese toilet seat, designed by Thomas and now residing in the Speakbook centre. “It unobtrusively monitors your heartbeat when you sit on the toilet,” Thomas tells me: “Abnormal heart rhythms cause 25 per cent of strokes and so it could prevent about 35,000 strokes annually in the UK alone.”
For this doctor of design, attempting to create the world’s largest indoor painting is only the beginning. Expressing his aspiration to see his impressive painting displayed upon even more impressive surfaces such as jumbo jets and ocean liners, for Thomas, the sky truly is the limit.
Words: Taruka Srivstava
Artwork: David Thomas