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Big Art in Burnley

Invisible art makes people stare in East Lancashire

Published on April 24th 2008.


Big Art in Burnley

Burnley exploded into colour, invisibly, as part of Channel 4's Big Art project.

Led by arts scene heroes, Greyworld, a group of 15 young people from Burnley, have worked magic around the town. The trick here is in the seeing. The youngsters work is called Invisible and involves a series of paintings that can only be seen when lit from an ultraviolet source.

As Channel 4 say: "The subjects and styles of the paintings are varied: there are movie-style posters; images of animals, birds and insects; comic scenes; and a series of 'local heroes', who range from the Burnley FC mascot to a Big Issue seller, a community worker, a head teacher and a local actor and dramatist.”

London-based Greyworld were chosen by the youngsters themselves, as they wanted to explore public art in a more interesting and challenging way that the norm. “We have all learnt so much about public art and it has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Sam, 14.

Andrew Shoben of Greyworld has said: “"We love to explore hidden corners of towns and cities, playing with these grey spaces to bring a little wonder and magic to them. This is a great opportunity to create a work that uses the whole town as its canvas. We are also lucky to have a young client team, who give us a fresh and candid view of real life in their town.

"They don't come with any preconceptions about what public art should be, which is great for us. Above all they don't hold back or mince their words, instead they respond honestly to our ideas. This direct approach to our work is refreshing and we're looking forward to creating an experience in the town that is truly magical."

The Big Art Project opened in 2005 with a call for the public to nominate sites they felt would benefit from an art installation. Channel 4 received over 1400 nominations. One of these was from Chris May of Creative Partnerships, East Lancashire and Burnley Borough Council, working with a steering group of community arts and regeneration focused organisations.

In the end only seven sites were selected across the UK, including Burnley. The progress and results will be broadcast on TV later this year.

Burnley's young people have also created their own community website. Checkout www.bigartpro.co.uk for more information.

For more information on Peninne Lancashire and events in the area click here

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