British sculptor, Sir Antony Gormley has helped aunch of The Great Big Art Exhibition, billed as the biggest exhibition ever created in the UK. The idea for the project came from Colchester-based visual arts organisation, Firstsite, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
“At a time when all the theatres and galleries are shut it is wonderful to somehow tap into the extraordinary reservoirs of creativity in the country and celebrate the diversity of range and thought and feelings that exist,” Sir Antony said.
Museums, galleries, amateur and professional artists alike – even non-artists who feel like making something – are being called upon to create a piece for the project and put it on display in their window, garden or other suitable place.
Animals are his suggested theme for the first two weeks of the exhibition, with Sir Antony nomination several iconic works as possible inspiration, including a drawing of a Rhino by Albrecht Durer and a kangaroo painted with red ochre in a cave in Kimberley, Australia.
Museum curators from around the UK have also cited inspirational works, though not necessarily on the current theme. Rebecca Salter, President of the Royal Academy chose Yinka Shonibare’s Cheeky Little Astronomer (2013), while While Sir John Leighton at National Galleries Scotland picked The Progress of a Soul: The Victory (1902) by Phoebe Anna Traquair.
Artworks can be created out of any medium. Acknowledging that suitable artists’ materials may be a concern for many people – especially with lockdown meaning artist supply shops may be difficult to access – Sir Antony urges people to use anything that comes to hand.
“Use old household objects to create an animal nobody has seen before!” he told Channel 4 News. After displaying your work where it can easily be seen, take a photo and, “then post your images for people to see,” he added.
Best known for his towering Angel of the North statue and sculptures based on his own body that are dotted around the country, Sir Antony is being supported by a string of other well-known artists who will provide a new theme every two weeks until the event reaches its climax on April 30.