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Big 4

The Big 4 so far

Virtual Big 4The 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.

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 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 involved covering each section of the ‘4’ with fabric and saw the ‘4’ softly breathe, inhaling and exhaling slowly. At night it was lit from within to create a gentle glow that lightened and darkened 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 was 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 was 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, celebrated the release of Raymond Briggs’ Snowman film, The Snowman and the Snowdog, in December 2012. The Big 4 was transformed 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 could 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 were highlighted by tiny LEDs which picked out the building lights. These low strength LEDs gently pulsed and twinkled representing the soft lights of a city, ensuring that this illustrated Big 4 looked equally beautiful during the day and the night.

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).

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