Big Art on TV screens nationwide this Sunday

  • 8 May 2009

After four years of drama, suspense and the evolution of seven ambitious new public art projects across the country, Channel 4's Big Art goes on air at 7pm this Sunday, 10 May, and on three consecutive Sundays thereafter.

The four-part series follows the successes and setbacks of commissioning and creating public art – when the public get involved.

The series is part of the Big Art Project, an ambitious national public art initiative by Channel 4, suported by The Art Fund and Arts Council England.

During the course of the series, viewers will witness the evolution of major public art works in seven sites across the UK – stretching from North Belfast to the Isle of Mull and Cardigan Bay – and the highs and lows experienced by the people involved.

Unlike most public art seen in the UK, the artworks featured in Big Art were selected and commissioned by members of the general public – a result of the Big Art Project initiative which began in 2005.

In St Helens, Merseyside, Jaume Plensa’s monumental new sculpture Dream, depicting a young girl’s head in a dream-like state, has dramatically reshaped the skyline of the North West. The work was commissioned by a group of local ex-miners keen to celebrate their town’s 400 year mining past, and to create a sculpture that looked to the future.

In Burnley, 15 local schoolchildren commissioned a series of ‘invisible’ graffiti artworks hidden in various locations in Burnley town centre. Created by arts collective Greyworld, the works can only be seen with a special UV torch.

Big Art charts the progress of these artworks, and five other projects that are yet to be completed, from the application process – when people around the country put forward a site they felt would benefit from a new artwork – to working with top curators, commissioning international artists, lobbying for local support and securing funding.

Throughout the four episodes, individuals from each of the seven sites discuss their artistic vision alongside established artists, curators, politicians and leading figures from the art world – including Antony Gormley, art critic Jonathan Jones, and David Barrie, Director of The Art Fund – building a picture of what public art can do for communities across the country.

The Art Fund got involved in the Big Art Project because we want to get great art to more people in more places – a principle aim of the project. The Art Fund also saw the project as an opportunity to increase public engagement in art. Coinciding with the Big Art series, The Art Fund is holding a special Artist in Conversation talk with artist Jaume Plensa in St Helens, and a debate at the RSA entitled "Can the Public be Trusted to Choose Public Art?" For more details of the Big Art Project and the seven nominated sites, see our What’s On page.

To tie in with Big Art, Channel 4 will screen a special series of 3 Minute Wonders celebrating The Art Fund. The short films will be screened on four consecutive evenings commencing 11 May. Click here for more details.


For more information contact Marina Bradbury,, 020 7 225 4888

Notes to editors:

1. The Art Fund is the UK’s leading independent art charity. It offers grants to help UK museums and galleries enrich their collections; campaigns on behalf of museums and their visitors; and promotes the enjoyment of art.

2. It is entirely funded from public donations and has 80,000 members. Since 1903 the charity has helped museums and galleries all over the UK secure 860,000 works of art for their collections.

3. Recent achievements include: helping secure Titian’s Diana and Actaeon for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery, London in February 2009 with a grant of £1 million; helping secure Anthony d’Offay’s collection, ARTIST ROOMS, for Tate and National Galleries of Scotland in February 2008 with a grant of £1million; and running the ‘Buy a Brushstroke’ public appeal which raised over £550,000 to keep Turner’s Blue Rigi watercolour in the UK.

4. For more information contact the Press Office on 020 7225 4888 or visit

The Art Fund is a Registered Charity No. 209174