ART THROUGH THE WINDOW to lift covid gloom
by Norman Warwick
When asked to launch an arts intervention to include the whole country Sir Antony Gormley chose the theme of ´animals´ and prestigious venues such as the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland are inviting people to make art-work, or perhaps to make art work ! They are suggesting that displays can be shown in front windows, front doors, or on balconies or in gardens. The project, Great Big Art Exhibition has invited several artists to select themes, and the next one will be ´portraits´ chosen by Sonia Boyce. These need not be painted in the traditional sense but can be ´created from anything.´
Katie Weston reported in The Daily Mail on 28th January on what sounds like an exciting idea and said that, in launching the initiative, Sir Antony, most famous, perhaps for his Angel Of The North, said that fellow artists such as Sir Anish Kapoor, Jeremy Deller and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei will select a different theme each fortnight, to follow his own choice of ´animals´ as subject matter.
Firstsite, an arts venue in Colchester, Essex, first came up with the idea, and Sally Shaw, a director, said:
‘The doors to our collections and galleries might be shut but our imaginations are forever open. Making, showing and experiencing art has created so much joy, connection and solace for many thousands of people. I can’t wait to see a brand new nationwide art gallery appearing before our eyes in coming days, weeks and months. This is sure to be an incredible expression of people’s creativity.’
Organisers have said ‘people can work as individuals or as a community, by joining up ‘virtually’ with their street, school, temple, church, shopping centre or football team to produce a memorable and exciting artwork’.
Major artworks from the nation’s galleries and museums can be used as a template or for inspiration and will be put online.
Sir Antony said: ‘Everybody’s feeling a bit frustrated, a bit pent up.´ (due to covid).
With such expansive ambition the project might seem daunting but Sir Antony has every confidence in us all.
‘It’s clear that we can do it. The lovely expression of love and gratitude to the NHS that led to all those rainbows going up in windows, that’s a singular image that was copied by everybody to show solidarity.
Now we have a chance to show the amazing diversity of talent that exists in every single one of us.’
- Romey, Iggy and Louie (pictured left to right) holding up their artworks
- which will be displayed in the front window of a house in Acton as part of the art exhibition
There can be little doubt that covid lockdowns and closures have created what Sir Antony calls ‘ this massive reservoir of energy’, so he urges us to ´do something positive with that energy and just change our streetscapes by turning all the windows that face the street into art galleries, so that walking down the road in a village or a town or city becomes this delightful kind of art gallery.’
The remit for the artist with in us all follows a viral #rainbowtrail trend that aimed to spread hope and positivity during the first lockdown taking off throughout the UK last year, with children across the country displaying rainbow paintings in their windows.
The #rainbowtrail initiative pledged support to staying inside during the coronavirus pandemic along with the hashtags #stayhomesavelives and #staysafestayhome.
Dedicated to helping NHS staff, youngsters from all corners of Britain displayed their artwork in windows, with parents sharing pictures on Twitter, along with passers-by admiring them during their daily jog.
The Great Big Art Exhibition will run from Thursday January 28 until April, and it seems likely that UK families could, to borrow a name employed by my local Touchstones Arts & Heritage Centre, when I was living in Rochdale, England, create their own ´People´s Gallery´ with walkways right around the UK.