James Turrell: Cat Cairn, the Kielder Skyspace, Kielder Forest, Northumberland (2000) (courtesy Kielder Partnership, photo: Mark Pinder/www.w.kielder.org/visart.htm)
About the project
The Channel 4 Big Art Project is inspiring and creating unique works of public art in selected sites across the UK.
It's a first from Channel 4: an opportunity for the public to be at the centre of a unique initiative right where they are living and become a central character in a prime-time television series.
In October 2005 Channel 4 asked the nation to get involved in the Big Art Project. The response was overwhelming – over 1,400 members of the public across the UK said they wanted some art for their communities and proposed a site.
The Big Art selection team tackled the huge task of working out which of those sites should go forward.
Selection was based on a list of practical criteria, including:
- planning and political support
- aesthetic and educational potential
- funding availability
- the range of art that might be possible
- enthusiasm and flexibility of the nominating community
- achievability within the time-frame
- the potential to maximise public access to the commissioning process and the final art work.
Isabel Vasseur, a pioneer of the Public Arts movement
Peter Jenkinson, founding director of Walsall Art Gallery
Gus Casely Hayford, cultural historian and consultant
Kevin Murray, planning and regeneration consultant.
Together, they travelled the country meeting nominators, funders, politicians, public authorities and landowners to make the selection. From April 2006, seven sites were selected by the panel.
Commissioning the art
Public art can transform a space into a place. When a community participates in that transformation, it can change how people feel about living in or visiting that place.
Communities around the selected sites worked with curators appointed by the Big Art Trust. The curators supported the communities in choosing which artists they wanted to see commissioned and the kind of art each place wanted to create. They are also helping communities manage their Big Art Project as it progresses.
There were, of course, challenges along the way. The seven selected sites were very different. The ambitions of each community were different too and that's what makes each Big Art Project unique.