The Supervalu supermarket in Westport, Co Mayo recently underwent a complete refit. The design agency The Delta Group contacted me about the use of large-format mural images of local scenes for display on the back walls of the fishmonger, butcher and deli counters. This was both an exciting and a daunting proposition. Exciting because I have a depth of good imagery from the area, the enlargements would be huge, and they would be seen by thousands of people every week for several years. Daunting because this type of enlargement tests the technical integrity of an image to the extreme.
There is a huge investment in time and money to print and install images at this size, relying largely on the photographger's assurance that the image files are good enough to stand up to the test. Although I have had images used at these kinds of dimensions in the past (for the visitor centres at Ballycroy National Park and the Cliffs of Moher), there is always some trepidation involved, especially as the supermarket images were to be cropped to meet the space requirements. In the event they look great, with no noticeable pixelation and a surprising level of sharpness. They certainly help to make the store brighter and more colourful, and in many ways this is art being used at the very heart of the community. I can't claim all the credit for the final look however, because even though the image files were of the highest quality, skilled handling of the files by the printers is just as important in determining the final outcome.