G.F Smith: World's Favourite Colour

Martyn White

Posted on July 11 2017

An exhibition of colour and plaful art inspired by the City of Hull and G.F Smith.


Announced to an explosion of paper helicopters covering Hull's Humber Street, the world finally knew that Marrs Green was its favourite colour. Based on thousands of responses across the globe and voted for on G.F Smith's website, people were asked to select their favourite hue from a range of public suggestions. Gathering the data, G.F Smith named the colour after Annie Marrs, who picked the colour originally. This colour now makes its way temporarily to the Colorplan paper range though, after the positive response, maybe it will be a permanent fixture after all? To celebrate the announcement, Paper City was launched, a creative partnership between G.F Smith, founded in Hull in 1885 and Hull 2017 UK City of Culture. This partnership invited eight leading UK creatives to create an installation the ten day exhibition that run between 30th June - 9th July. 

G F Smith Paper City Hull Made Thought, The Fabric of HullG F Smith Paper City Hull Made Thought, The Fabric of HullG F Smith Paper City Hull Made Thought, The Fabric of Hull patchwork art

Made Thought, The Fabric of Hull 

Made Thought’s installation for Paper City, Fabric of Hull, brough the history of the city, paper and G . F Smith together through the creation of a nine metre long tapestry of interwoven paper strips. It symbolised the way the history of Hull and G . F Smith are interlinked and entwined. Using all 50 colours from their iconic Colorplan paper range, it visually depicted the release of each shade into the collection through a chronological colour sequence.

G F Smith Worlds Favourite Colour Jacqueline Poncelet, Island Life Paper CityG F Smith Worlds Favourite Colour Jacqueline Poncelet, Island LifeG F Smith Worlds Favourite Colour Jacqueline Poncelet, Island Life colourful paper artwork

Jacqueline Poncelet, Island Life

Island Life began with sheets of paper with a single fold, and then progressed through joining, arranging, taking apart and re-using components, to arrive at the final form of this intricate installation. The work was developed in full directly on her studio floor, and has been taken apart and re-installed specifically to fit the exhibition space at Pier St. Jacqueline was inspired by the simplicity of the paper and its range – 4 sizes; 50 colours; 8 weights. There had been very little change to the material, preferring repetition and colour progression to create a richness and depth to the installation.

G F Smith Paper City Hull Lazerian, Local Fish paper sculptureG F Smith Paper City Hull Lazerian, Local FishG F Smith Paper City Hull Lazerian, Local Fish intricate paper sculpture

Lazerian, Local Fish

The huge sculptural cod explores the use of Colorplan paper in colour, thickness and finish – the leather embossing provided the scaly texture of the fish skin, and the vibrant colours created a vivid anatomical presence of the internal organs. Local Fish was also the first project to feature Lazerian’s mobile studio, where hand-made paper fish and chips were made every day during Paper City, using the full spectrum of Colorplan shades.

G F Smith Paper City Hull Adam Holloway, Apeiron FlowG F Smith Paper City Hull Adam Holloway, Apeiron FlowG F Smith Paper City Hull Adam Holloway, Apeiron Flow

Adam Holloway, Apeiron Flow 

An installation that showcased the endless expressive potential of paper. Using principles inspired by Nature to increase its structural stiffness, the paper is crafted into an algorithmically grown, expansive and fluid sculptural form. G . F Smith’s Colorplan was used to delineate the curvature of the surface, which weaved through the space, transforming it and inviting visitors to explore and move around the installation. 

G F Smith Paper City Bethan Laura Wood, Seaweed KitesG F Smith Paper City Bethan Laura Wood, Seaweed KitesG F Smith Paper City Bethan Laura Wood, Seaweed Kites

Bethan Laura Wood, Seaweed Kites

Seaweed Kites was conceived by Bethan Laura Wood for the 1930’s smokehouse, which in turn was constructed on the site of the C19 Theatre Royal. Her approach reflected a response to the history of the site as well as to the nature of the space itself. Bethan described how her installation gently swayed to create a suspended world of colour and shapes which, in turn, creates a staged world with a theatrical presence.

G F smith Paper City Hull Joanna Sands, Untitled G F smith Paper City Hull Joanna Sands, Untitled G F smith Paper City Hull Joanna Sands, Untitled

Joanna Sands, Untitled 

Joanna Sands’ subtle and crafted installation had developed through her investigation of the properties of Colorplan paper. After experimenting, she found that the material has both the strength and flexibility to curve and hold its own shape. Her sculpture, therefore, used the structural qualities of the paper to form curves that travel across the surface of the floor.

G F Smith Paper City exhibition, Max Lamb 35,000 gsmG F Smith Paper City exhibition, Max Lamb 35,000 gsmG F Smith Paper City exhibition, Max Lamb 35,000 gsm

Max Lamb, 35,000 gsm

Inspired by his visit to G . F Smith, and their laminating process which is able to combine papers of different colours and weights to make new stock, Max set out to take this process to a challenging conclusion. Using all 50 coloured layers of Colorplan in 700 gsm (0.92mm thick) a new paper stock can be produced with a thickness of 46mm and a weight of 35,000 gsm. A side section reveals, like geological strata, all the colours in the range.

Richard Woods, Untitled

Richard Woods proposed to resurface selected elevations in the Fruit Market with graphic brickwork. This acted as a pointer towards future renovation and building projects soon to be starting up in the area and as a marker, highlighting a past architectural history that still has resonances. Using standard size sheets of Colorplan paper as graphic symbols for building and brickwork, Richard pasted these ‘building blocks’ onto the sides of buildings.



The exhibition and design trail were a brilliant experience. It was great to see the concepts that each designer had envisaged, and how each one had been executed in such a different way to the next. Each designer brought something new to the table, relating to the city of Hull and G.F Smith whilst staying true to their own design style. From building facades and cross sections of fish to floating abstract motion, there was something for everyone to pause, appreciate and connect to. 

Check out the video above to see a short tour from some of the installations. 

G F Smith Worlds Favourite Colour store, Hull City of CultureG F Smith Worlds Favourite Colour store Richard Brendon Patternity

If having a brand new paper shade wasn't enough, a pop-up store was opened on Humber Street, amongst the installations selling iconic products, transformed with the Marrs Green colour. Brands such as Anglepoise, Richard Brendon, Tokyobike, Cambridge Satchel Company and Sunspel had taken some of their most popular designs and given them the Marrs Green treatment, transforming the space into a monochromatic paradise. After the exhibition, the pop-up space will make its way down to G.F Smith's show space in London for even more visitors to come and experience. 

For further details on G.F Smith, Colorplan or Hull 2017 UK city of culture, click on the links to view their official websites. 



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