All eyes on the face of Peterborough

Christopher Wiles with the 'female' image, created using a range of Peterborian faces. Pictures: ROWLAND HOBSON
Christopher Wiles with the 'female' image, created using a range of Peterborian faces. Pictures: ROWLAND HOBSON
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A TWO-YEAR long project to find the face of Peterborough was unveiled last night after thousands of hours of work.

Award-winning artist Christopher Wiles collected 1,600 photographs of the people of Peterborough which he then combined to create one face.

He used the computer generated image as a basis for his eight feet by four feet pen and ink portrait which now hangs in the Central Library, in Peterborough.

But rather than just draw the picture, it is made up of thousands of small spirals, each within a 5mm grid and took months to complete.

Christopher, who is currently artist in residence at Peterborough Museum, said: “I am pleased with how it has come out, it hurt my hand a little but it has worked better than I had hoped.

“I was worried at one stage it would end up being really hideous and would offend everyone in Peterborough.

“But when I started to take pictures I realised it wouldn’t be. There was an incredible range of faces but they are averaged out.

“I think it’s a she and she’s very attractive and quite young.”

The plan first grew out of a meeting with museum staff almost two years to the day before it was completed.

As he was driving home he hit upon the idea of taking pictures of as many people in the city as possible and using it to make the Face of Peterborough.

Christopher set up stalls all over the city, taking pictures at of Posh fans at Peterborough United’s London Road ground as well as visiting schools.

About 1,600 people had their photograph taken, amounting to about one per cent of the population.

Once he had run the pictures through the computer he set about drawing the face, dividing the canvass into thousands of 5 mm squares.

Each of the tiny squares was then painstakingly filled with a spiral by hand, the size and thickness of each providing shading of the face, hair, eyes and mouth, to the final image.

It was unveiled last night following celebrations all day in the Guildhall in Cathedral Square.

Christopher spent the afternoon working with budding artists in a collaborative project.

Visitors drew their own picture which was added to the MyFace Art Wall.

The Face of Peterborough will hang in the library until Peterborough Museum reopens when it will take pride of place in the refurbished building.

Chief executive of Vivacity, Kevin Tighe was delighted with the work.

He said: “As an artist’s project it is phenomenal. The number of man hours to create it must have been incredible. But as a piece of art I think it is tremendous.”