Pilot 2010 / by Claire Farrell


Birmingham, 2010

48Sheet Pilot artists. Ian Richards. Lucy McLauchlan. Harry Blackett. Robin Kirkham. Elizabeth Rowe.

48Sheet pilot explored giving artists the opportunity to present their work on equal terms with the advertising messages that dominate our cities. The pilot project was a pre cursor for the potential of a larger scale project planned for 2012.

48Sheet was an experimental intervention created and produced by WERK, sponsored by the Arts Council England. The pilot project utilised advertising billboards as a medium artistic expression from 2 – 14 September 2010.

48Sheet definition is a reference to the size of a traditional outdoor advertising billboard – it featured site specific work of five Birmingham-based artists across four billboards located in Digbeth, and tested a variety of art forms and artistic process against different cityscape backdrops.

The four billboards were chosen for their specific locations and close proximity to each other to encourage viewers to take a walking tour around a ‘cluster’ of billboards platforms for art.

The first billboard featured 3-dimensional lettering of graphic designer Ian Richards. Surrounded by a cluster of standard advertising billboards ‘What You Looking At’ asked the viewer to question what they see in their everyday environment. Ian collaborated with local signage company Central Signs using their patented G57 product within his concept; a fully recycled plastic composite traditionally used for signage advertising.

Elizabeth Rowe’s ‘Going Underground’ part of a body of work made by drawing onto newspaper and magazine images. By obscuring the original meaning she invites the viewer to examine the image in more detail. To an original image taken from National Geographic Elizabeth added vivid colours and intricate hand drawn designs to provide a sense of escape into a fantasy world, in contrast to the billboard’s grey, urban surroundings. Elizabeth Rowe works in miniature collages and for this piece has photographed and digitally manipulated an original work to produce it to scale.

The third billboard was a site specific installation by artist Lucy McLauchlan’s responding to the site and her surroundings on the day of installation. Using a mix both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional processes, the live art installation involved the artist collecting objects in the heart of Digbeth’s industrial quarter and re purposing them into an art installation. The abstract piece was created over the course of two days. Lucy’s installation was recorded as a time-lapse film by Birmingham based filmmaker Mat Beckett.

The last in the four, the work of Harry Blackett and Robin Kirkham entitled ‘Campanile’, the Italian for a free-standing bell tower (the tallest in the world is the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower of the University of Birmingham). Consisting of a double graphic of ringing bells set against a bright background, the work aimed to open multiple meanings to stop passers-by.

Grant funded by Arts Council West Midlands.