The city of Birmingham is set to undergo a massive change in future with the development of the HS2 high speed rail line. The project is a massive undertaking that will see renewed growth within the city. While this will develop the accessibility of trade and business, it provides the perfect opportunity for Birmingham to mark the occasion with its unique style and commitment to public art.
The Birmingham Big Art project was set up to commission an iconic piece of public art that will help Birmingham’s international recognition and place the city on the world’s cultural map. The aim is to build upon the new developments within the city and provide a lasting legacy that encourages civic pride through the diverse communities in the city using public art.
The project is set to cost around £2 million pounds and will also build upon Birmingham’s already rich culture in industry, design and art. It will be the centre piece of the new Curzon Street development and more importantly the final art piece will be decided upon by the residents of Birmingham.
“As we have seen with the example of the Angel of the North, public art can be a powerful symbol for a community and city. I am happy to hear that Birmingham is encouraging the public to help raise funds for the Birmingham Big Art Project.
Empowering citizens through culture is a positive way of engaging the local community. Whether large or small, I hope Birmingham picks a work that will make the public proud, stand the test of time and act as a magnet for cultural tourism.
I hope it also inspires other artists to create new works.”
Europe’s Former Culture Commissioner
In May 2015, land was secured by the council and a shortlist of artists were selected to submit their ideas. A year later and the ideas where turned into full 3D models and placed on show as part of the public consultation process. The five artists, their ideas and proposals are as follows:
1: Susan Philipsz : ‘Station Clock’
Station clock is proposed as a aural clock that is designed to represent the testament to time covering past, present and future. The clock comprises 12 digits that represent each of the twelve tones on the musical scale. Sounds will be produced in conjunction and collaboration with Birmingham City University Conservatoire. Each tone changes in volume depending of the time of day such as the loudest chorus being played at midday.
Born in Glasgow in 1965, Susan Philipsz live and works in Berlin. Her work involves exploring the psychological and sculptural potential of sound. Susan has had many exhibits displayed over the last last few years including the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago in 2011 and Tate Britain in London 2015.
2: Roger Hiorns : ‘As yet untitled’
The ‘As yet untitled’ submission from Roger Hiorns proposes a landscape of transformed steam and locomotive engines. The engines will sit amongst a scattered collection of stone car engines to provide contract. Exteriors of the trains engines and carriages will be set to resemble human skin. The idea is proposed as a symbol of shaping our sexual and physical identities by and through the development of technology.
Roger Hiorns was born in Birmingham in 1975 but lives and works in London. Hiorns work combines material to transform objects and urban situations. Hiorns has displayed some of his past exhibits have be displayed in the Rudolfinum in Prague 2015 and The Art Institue of Chicago in 2010 along with many other galleries around the world. In 2009, his installation ‘Seizure’ was nominated for the Turner Prize award.
3: Heather and Ivan Morrison: ‘Blue Print for Happiness’
Heather and Ivans Blue Print proposal is derived from the perfect colliding cuboid geometries created in minerals beneath the earth. The design is to provide intricate gleaming facets representing the many layers of Birmingham’s long history into a new geometry. The sculpture serves as a metaphor for the potential of Birmingham and its statement of intent to become a city of the future in a world full of constant change.
Heather was born in 1973 in Desborough while Ivan was born in Instanbul in 1974. They both live and work in Herefordshire and craft works designed for public spaces. Their work revolves around active engagment covering everything from story telling to histories, sites, material and processes. In recent years their work has be placed on display at the Whitechapel Gallery in London along with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and Tate Modern in London.
4: Brian Griffiths: ‘Small Giants’
Giffiths’ sculpture is based within jewellery and designed to be worn by the city of Birmingham and its people. The proposal includes working within select groups in the jewellery quarter to produce a series of additional bespoke pieces that would be made available to the public to compliment the sculptures display.
Born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1968, Brian lives and works within London. Brian’s sculptures value the narrative and overblown theatricality through the use of everyday objects. His work has been exhibited far and wide including at the Galeria Luisa Strina in Sao Paulo, Brazil along with being part of the Hayway Touring Exhibition in 2011.
5: Keith Wilson: ‘Industrial Revolution’
The industrial revolution proposal by Wilson involves a slow moving public sculpture that over a ten year period will travel from one end of the Eastside City Park through to the other. The idea is to represent Birmingham’s history of labour and the transportation of materials in a reinvented post-industrial ‘art’ sculpture that carries layers of rich culture within its design.
Keith Wilson was born in Birmingham in 1965 but now lives and works from New York, USA. Wilson’s sculptures are designed to be playful while being imbued with domestic and industrial resonance. Wilson’s exhibitions have been displayed in galleries across London including the Milch Gallery and the Camden Arts Centre. He has also been involved with wider projects such as the Hayward project space in London.
Voting is open to members of the public who visit the exhibition at Millennium Point. Forms are available on site and also provide an opportunity to feedback to the artists directly via the comments box. The aim is to unveil the winner in early 2017 with a view to having the piece commissioned and built for 2018.
You can also follow the progress of the project via the Birmingham Big Art Project’s website and keep up with the latest developments via the projects twitter account @bigartproject
Big Birmingham Art Project from Eastside Projects on Vimeo.
Sourced: The Birmingham Big Art Project , Millennium Point