The Royal College of Surgeons, Bahrain. Photo by Priory Studios.
This lucrative job came from a baby portrait in the studio. A week later, the child’s dad, an Engineer with Mercury Overseas was attending a Dublin meeting with Architects, Designers, Builders and the Financial Controller discussing how to decorate the restaurant in the one of their Middle East building projects – The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland in Bahrain. They had just decided to name the restaurant “Stephens Green” and wanted to bring a little Green flavor to this oasis in the new college to promote Ireland and to remind the many Irish Lecturers & staff of their leisurely strolls in the park which is opposite the RCSI in Dublin.
Royal College of Surgeons Ireland. (RCSI) Photo by Priory Studios
The question was put to the table, “does anyone know a good photographer?” My client spoke up and offered to ask me if I would attend the next meeting to discuss the feasibility of wallpapering the walls of the restaurant with images of St Stephens Green.
I agreed to attend the meeting but had to make some frantic enquiries about turning photos into wallpaper, I also requested some email photos of the walls in question in spite of the fact that it was still a building site.
RCSI Bahrain, restaurant under construction with a superimposed image of Stephens Green.
I then took a photo stroll around Stephens Green capturing people enjoying the park, the lake and the fountains and a few shots of the surrounding Georgian buildings. Vladimir (my digital expert) squeezed and stretched these images till they fitted onto the photos of the walls.
At the meeting when I was asked “can this be done” I not only said yes, I handed out prints of the job as it might look. I guess they were impressed because they just stared at the prints for a few minutes, did a bit of nodding and then the big chief looked at me and said “You’ve got the job, can you fly to Bahrain on Monday?”
Business Class on Etihad Airways is very nice way to travel to work, Limo from home to the airport, VIP lounges, Champagne or Orange juice? (I just said yes please) upon boarding the flight and the food is not only sumptuous, it is served on China plates, none of that plastic rubbish that the plebs down the back get!
Then you push a button and your seat slowly converts to a bed, what more could a man ask for? Well there obviously is more because they also have a First Class section, the mind boggles!
Anyway the next task was to photograph and measure the walls and make sure the images I supplied complimented the image on the wall or column next to each other. What would people see when they first walked in to the restaurant and that important parts of the image were not lost to a door and so on.
I spent a few days there and took lots of pictures, some just for the fun of it, including some aerial type shots from the 45th floor of the Bahrain World Trade Centre – Twin Towers.
Back home I set about matching images to the walls, I toyed with the idea of having one of the columns with a collage of images but it was just way too busy.
Some of the images had to be manipulated to fit a desired space, for example I didn’t want a window bending around both sides of a corner so Vladimir digitally moved the windows closer together and as a grumpy old sod in this building wouldn’t close the door for 10 seconds, I had to shoot another door and add it in later.
Oddly enough when the wallpaper went up someone cried “that building doesn’t have a red door”!
And on another wall the same guy also picked out an RCSI staff member having a picnic in Stephens Green while watching the band play and promptly asked me what time of the day I took that photo!!!!
The images were all taken on a Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 24-120mm lens and then put through Genuine Fractals software to increase the file size. I had the wallpaper printed in the UK as it was considerably cheaper than the Irish supplier. The UK company also flew out an experienced wallpaper hanger at my request as I felt it was imperative that each image was joined precisely and as the buildings grand opening date was getting close, there was no room for error.
I was then engaged to return to Bahrain to photography our President Mary McAleese perform the official opening and during her tour she commented that my wallpaper images were a delightful addition to the entire project.