The Big 4 so far
The Big 4 is a 50-foot-high metal '4' outside Channel 4’s Horseferry Road headquarters in London. It was originally constructed in 2007 to celebrate both the Channel's 25th anniversary year and the launch of the Big Art Project. The installation mirrors the Channel's on-air identity, with metal bars forming the logo only when viewed from a particular angle.
Since its inception a variety of artists, both internationally renowned and emerging talent, have created ‘skins’ for the 4. The most recent installation ‘City at Night’ has been created to celebrate the new Raymond Briggs’ Snowman film, The Snowman and the Snowdog, which is being released on the 30th anniversary of the original Snowman film, in December 2012.
City at Night (Photo: Dave King)
More images in the Big 4 gallery »
So far the Big 4 has been adapted by the acclaimed British photographer Nick Knight, the Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner, the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, Fine Art graduate and winner of 2009’s competition Stephanie Imbeau, Fashion and Textiles graduate and winner of the competition in 2010 Hannah Gourlay, disabled sculptor and artist Tony Heaton and most recently Claire Watson, an Art Director at 4Creative.
Nick Knight's work, Heart, with sound design by Nick Ryan, involved biconvex screens carrying images of skin and musculature, giving the impression that the structure was gently breathing as you moved around it.
Mark Titchner's work, Find Our World in Yours, enabled the public to record their own thoughts and feelings about the media on video in a booth within the structure itself, the edited footage played back on monitors mounted up on the 4.
El Anatsui's Big 4 involved the use of newspaper printing plates, suggesting the ephemerality of the vast quantity of information we have to process and our longing for time to review and digest.
Stephanie Imbeau’s Shelter softened the structure by covering it with umbrellas to create an organic form representing the diverse population of London and the notion of ‘the giving of second life’.
Hannah Gourlay’s Time to Breath was designed to create a brief moment of calm for passersby. Her design involves covering each section of the ‘4’ with fabric and sees the 4 softly breathe, inhaling and exhaling slowly. At night it is lit from within to create a gentle glow that lightens and darkens at the same pace.
Tony Heaton’s Monument to the Unintended Performer was created to celebrate Channel 4’s involvement and commitment to the Paralympics. It is made up from four elements. The Big 4 itself, a figurative element based on the classical Greek marble sculpture Discobolus by Myron, a wheel from the international symbol of access and the element of colour in the form of bronze, silver and gold. The sculpture is lit by neon during the day in the wheel and the discus, and additionally at night by spot lighting to accentuate the colours.
Claire Watson’s City at Night, celebrating the release of Raymond Briggs’ new Snowman film, The Snowman and the Snowdog, transforms the Big 4 into a giant aerial illustration of London at night, by cladding the structure in enlarged panels featuring hand drawn illustrations used to create the animation for the film.
Encompassing famous London buildings and landmarks, people can see representations of Big Ben, the London Eye, the Shard, Tower Bridge and the Gherkin, as well as the general central city scape. At night, key areas are highlighted by tiny LEDs picking out the building lights. These low strength LEDs gently pulse and twinkle, representing the soft lights of a city, ensuring that this illustrated Big 4 looks equally beautiful during the day and the night.
The focal point of the installation is a 3D model of the main characters in the film, the Snowman, Boy and newly introduced character, the Snowdog. Supersized, sitting centre and elevated in front of the Big 4, the three friends appear to be flying over the city in a secret night time flight. The model figures are made from sculpted styrofoam, with an internal steel framework, coated on the outside with fibreglass, painted as exact replicas of the characters in the film and waterproofed.
The design was installed on the Big 4, on behalf of Claire Watson and Channel 4, by Meredith Rowe on behalf of FreeState Ltd – working alongside sub-contractors Millimetre Ltd, Atelier One Ltd, Studio Babelsburg GmbH, Enliten Architectural Lighting, Lupus Films Ltd, Crash Lab Ltd and Vocalism – Planning & PR.
The artists were all chosen by a panel of art and design experts who have included: Jan Younghusband (formerly Commissioning Editor, Arts and Performance, Channel 4); Brett Foraker (formerly Network Creative Director, Channel 4); Gus Casely-Hayford (formerly Executive Director, Arts Strategy, Arts Council); Michael Morris (Co-Director, Art Angel); Will Gompertz (formerly Director, Tate Media); Tim Marlow (Director of Exhibitions, White Cube Gallery); Rebecca Wilson, (Associate Director Saatchi Gallery); Maurice Blik, (Sculptor and fellow of the RSA); Ruth Mackenzie OBE, (Cultural Olympiad Director); Rufus Radcliffe (formerly Channel 4’s Controller of Marketing); Tabitha Jackson, (Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor, Arts), Tom Tagholm (formerly Head of 4Creative), Dan Brooke (Channel 4’s Director of Marketing & Communications), James Walker (Channel 4’s Head of Marketing), Adam Scott (Creative Director at FreeState), Meredith Rowe (Big 4 Project Manager, FreeState) and Helen Prangnell (Big 4 Project Manager, Channel 4).
Video: How The Snowman and the Snowdog Big 4 was installed.