Who? Today marks the start of a national initiative that has transformed Britain into the world’s largest art gallery. Entitled Art Everywhere, the two-week long project has funded the takeover of 22,000 billboards and poster sites across the UK to display, and celebrate 57 British artworks.
What? The curation process was left up to the general public who were encouraged to vote for their favoured shortlist from a selection of works compiled in consultation with the Tate and the Art Fund. Those that made the grade are refreshingly varied in style and period, ranging from the Pre-Raphaelite – the (much loved) Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse was voted first choice, while Millais' Ophelia came in second – to the Pop, in the form of Patrick Caulfield’s After Lunch and Peter Blake’s iconic cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Other key names include Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Francis Bacon and Peter Doig, while pieces of the non-painted variety come courtesy of the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Tracey Emin, Cornelia Parker and Anish Kapoor.
"Art Everywhere is a joyful project with no agenda other than to flood our streets with art"
Why? The initiative’s organiser Richard Reed describes it as "a joyful project with no agenda other than to flood our streets with art and celebrate the creative talents and legacy of the UK." Indeed Art Everywhere is a wonderful example of art existing for its own sake, and for everyone's benefit. Capitalising on the ease of image reproduction in the modern age, the project removes art from its designated residency within the confines of gallery walls or private spaces and presents it to the general public as they go about their daily routine – a refreshing change from the usual advertising bombardings. Peter Blake who launched the project on Friday by unveiling the first artwork, said on the subject, "Almost 60 years ago with the stirrings of pop art, and what became my branch of pop art, was the idea art should be available to everybody. All these years later, maybe this is the fruition of what I attempted to do." The fact that the public were able to help choose the works and fund the project, via a kickstarter campaign on its website and alongside artists, curators, media owners and entrepreneurs, makes it all the more special.
Art Everywhere runs from August 12–25 across the UK. For more information click here.
Text by Daisy Woodward