Tonight I was asked to champion the last of 5 presentations by artists shortlisted for a public arts installation for the top of Eastside Park in Birmingham where HS2 travellers will come out of Curzon station and enter the City. This is the Big Art Project and no5 is by international artist from near Stratford: Brian Griffiths and his intriguingly titled SMALLGIANTS.
Its a Giant 12 x 12 meter bronze ring with enamelled designs and a series of small finger-sized rings.
Brian Griffiths enthusiastically engaged with the audience on how he will bring the large and small rings into being should he be the successful artist. He also referred to his previous work including his battenberg proposal for the 4th plinth, William Morris ambitions and enamel broaches including the Birmingham bowling club’s.
The other shortlisted artists are Heather and Ivan Morison, Keith Wilson, Susan Philipsz and Roger Hiorns. Much more detail about the artist is on the werbsite with commentary and introductions from BigArt Project Chairman GLYN PITCHFORD.
Gavin Wade of Eastside Projects, the commissioning agents, responsible for curating the process and artwork with Brian.
A video from Big Art Project gives the ambition and background.
It gives me great pleasure to Champion Brian’s Big Art – ‘Small Giants’.
I’ll let Brian and his work speak for themselves, but I am very happy to say what excites me about this giant ring for Birmingham and its smaller siblings is how artistically creative it is, while recognising the creativity of the City’s artisans past and present.
To quote Brian : “I want to make an elegant sculpture that can be worn by the City of Birmingham. Something that is preoccupied and concerned with display. A work that aspires to use the city’s present situation and its complex histories”
“With the miniature and the small lies the suggestion of the classic, the antique and the daydream. The big and gigantic points to a different consumer culture of up-scaling whenever change is desired – and change that proclaims the new.”
This is an admirable concept and artistically rather beautiful in itself. The designs on the ring reflect civic pride and culture, and the construction will require experience and engineering skills to realise a sculpture to take pride of place in the city’s visual environment.
The Giant Ring will be imposing, as it needs to be, to participate in the urban space alongside the growing array of buildings and the modernity of the high speed rail line bringing visitors and local travellers alike to the vibrant city centre. It will frame the city and encourage viewers to literally see the city through its circular frame, whether looking up to the centre or out to the rich and diverse suburbs.
The little brother and sister rings will be designed, made and sold by contemporary Birmingham Jewellers and artists from many backgrounds, and worn by many people as they visit Birmingham and return to their homes, near and far, with a ring on their finger to remind them of the big Birmingham ring and the good, creative and welcoming people they have met.
I commend Brian’s Big Art ‘Small Giants’ plans to you.