LONGBRIDGE PUBLIC ART PROJECT
The Longbridge Public Art Project, conceived by EC Arts on behalf of Bournville College, is a long-term engagement project which will develop site specific public art through artists in residence for one of the country’s most significant regeneration projects. Artists will develop concepts for physical public art and social platforms to support the regeneration of Longbridge and enhance the local environment.
A key objective is to create opportunities for the local community to collaborate with artists in the development of public art for the area. EC Arts researched both the physical and social infrastructure of the area before identifying artistic outcomes that will be explored further by artists over the next twelve months. During this period, the Project will also establish an annual Lighting Festival for Longbridge, launching in 2014.
The Festival will be created through valued support from Fête des Lumières, Lyon and Birmingham City Council to promote Longbridge as a future destination.
On October 30th 2013, guests at Bournville College’s Centenary celebrations will have the opportunity to preview an outdoor exhibition of lighting installations by Lyon’s Fête des Lumières and local artists. This lighting exhibition will set the scene for a proposed annual Lighting Festival for Longbridge, which will launch officially in 2014, and will introduce one of the key themes of the Longbridge Public Art Project - lighting.
Norman Cave, Principal, Bournville College
07 Bournville Collegeâ€™s story started with a revolutionary concept â€“ when Cadbury Brothers Ltd, concerned about the well-being of their workers, decided that physical education classes during working hours should be made compulsory. The classes, which started in September 1913 in the Stirchley Institute, mark the origins of Bournville College. Swimming classes soon followed, together with English, Maths and Science for male workers and, stereotypically, dressmaking for female employees. The experiment gained national recognition with the 1918 Fisher Education Act, which made provision for school leavers to attend day continuation schools for vocational training.
The College went from strength to strength over the following decades and as it continued to expand, the need for bigger premises became apparent. In 2002 we gave commitment to building a new campus. Our initial thoughts were to rebuild on the same site but that changed in 2005, when the local community received a devastating blow. In April that year the Rover factory based in Longbridge went into receivership and 5,000 people lost their jobs. We were quick to respond, and were a leading player in the task force set up virtually overnight, to help local people retrain and find new opportunities. More than 1,500 were retrained with over one third finding new employment. The scheme received national
attention, including a visit from the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair. We became convinced that there would be no better way of showing commitment to the local community than to build the new campus on the land of the former Rover factory in Longbridge, thereby kickstarting the regeneration of the community. This decision opened up a new chapter in the history of Bournville College along with our vision of a 21st century educational and training establishment. In 2011 that vision was realised and we finally relocated to our current site.
2013 marks another milestone in our history, and we are proud to be celebrating our Centenary with the launch of the Longbridge Public Art Project. The College has changed in so many ways since 1913 but its core values remain in place. It has always been about innovation, partnerships, inspiration and vision.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council
Claire Farrell, Artistic Director and Project Curator, EC Arts
The sudden closure of the Longbridge car plant in 2005 brought global attention to Birmingham and the West Midlands, and made the area the regeneration priority it remains today. At its peak, the 430-acre car plant was the largest car plant in the world, employing around 250,000 workers, and Birmingham City Council remains acutely sensitive to the deep social impact caused by this closure. As the new town of Longbridge emerges, Birmingham City Council is delighted to support the Longbridge Public Art Project through support in kind from our European and International and Arts and Community divisions, as well as through match funding. I am also hugely appreciative of the longer-term aim of EC Arts to shape future public art
policy for the city as a whole. I share this public art vision of enhancing the cultural riches and attractiveness of both Longbridge and the Birmingham area. Birmingham City Council is also lending its support to the Lighting Festival, in an exciting sister-city cultural partnership with the French city of Lyon. The Longbridge Public Art Project chimes with the Council’s vision and strategy for the city. Our Birmingham 2026 sustainable community strategy recognises the outstanding cultural facilities – from Symphony Hall to The Drum – that the city has to offer, but seeks to address low levels of interaction with leisure and cultural services in some areas and among some groups, by engaging the local community and encouraging
active participation in public art projects. The Longbridge Public Art Project also contributes to each of the main priorities within Birmingham’s recently published international strategy. This will make a significant contribution to Council initiatives in creating successful and inclusive communities, by enhancing infrastructure, and developing knowledge and innovation. The idea of Longbridge as a destination, which lies at the heart of the Project, came about as a result of an artistic and engagement process with residents. The annual Lighting Festival, proposed for 2014 onwards, is just one outcome from a much wider public art project that is yet to unfold. The Lighting Festival partnership development is
a result of the close relationship that Birmingham has enjoyed with its sister city, Lyon, for more than 60 years. I am delighted to welcome the Mayor of Lyon, Gérard Collomb, to the preview of the outdoor lighting exhibition, which will include two installations from Fête des Lumières, Lyon and will take place at the Bournville College Centenary celebrations in late October 2013. I look forward to the wider Longbridge Public Art Project, now starting, along with the development of one of the key outcomes planned for next year, the aforementioned annual Lighting Festival for Longbridge. This will be the first in a series of collaborations that will light up Longbridge and blaze a trail to a brighter future.
I have been based in Longbridge during the last twelve months, experiencing the area first hand whilst researching the rich and complex history of Longbridge, George Cadbury and the Cadbury brothers Ltd. They have been intrinsically linked on a number of levels over the past century; this is something that fascinates us, and it will reveal itself in a number of ways through artists’ work over the next twelve months. I have been in awe of the strength of the local community, and its deep sense of an illustrious and globallysignificant history.
The Austin Rover car plant formerly dominated the area in every sense - physically, socially and economically. The scale of its closure had a devastating effect on residents and the environment. This Project seeks to support the regeneration of Longbridge on a number of levels. In creating the Longbridge Public Art Project, which we are launching as part of Bournville College’s Centenary, EC Arts has considered the past, present and future of the area at every stage. In celebrating, commemorating and reflecting on the past, we forget all too often that what we are actually focusing on is the progressive and innovative approach, drive and vision of that era.
We aim to emulate that spirit through this Project, which is a composition of complex layers explored by some incredible artists who will strive to be progressive and innovative in their approach, as we all look forward to the future. The Longbridge Public Art Project supports the aspiration of Longbridge as a destination. Everything we do over the next 12 months with partners such as Bournville College, Birmingham City Council and St Modwen, is directed towards this overarching aim.
Public art and the artistic engagement process will give both artists and the community a role in enhancing the physical and social infrastructure of Longbridge.
10 BOURNVILLE COLLEGE CENTENARY
11 The idea of a public art strategy, which has evolved into the Longbridge Public Art Project, originated in Bournville College’s plans to celebrate its 2013 Centenary in the philanthropic vein of the Cadbury brothers, who invested heavily in the well-being of the local community and environment. By commissioning EC Arts to research and develop a public art strategy, Bournville College is demonstrating its commitment to the regeneration of Longbridge. On the evening of its Centenary celebrations on 30th October 2013 and as part of its commitment to the Longbridge Public Art Project, Bournville College is supporting a prelude to the 2014 Lighting festival in the form of a small lighting exhibition which will feature installations from Fête des
Lumières, Lyon, as well as work by local artists. This introduces a key theme of the project – lighting – which will evolve over the next twelve months into Longbridge’s annual Lighting Festival. Fête des Lumières, a key partner in the Longbridge Public Art Project, is a lighting festival of worldwide renown which has taken place annually for over a hundred years in Lyon, Birmingham’s sister city. Installations featured are “H2O – Artistic Direction: Maxime Houot, Audiovisual creation: Nohista, Production: Collectif Coin” The lighting exhibition includes 40 large-scale spotlights positioned to be visible from each approach to Longbridge – pedestrian, car and train. The spotlights lead the way along footpaths and around the College building to the
new town centre, a temporary intervention by EC Arts to evoke a ‘sense of arrival’ and establish Longbridge as a destination, a core aim of the project. Temporary lighting installations by Raphael Daden, a Nottingham-based sculptor working mainly with light, will be featured within the lighting exhibition, as the precursor to a permanent lighting installation by the artist for Bournville College and Longbridge in 2014. The Centenary event will also feature work by Rob Hewitt, one of the Project’s artists in residence, and film-maker and photographer Craig Bush. Hewitt will be exhibiting images from Bournville College’s archives for the first time to put forward an alternative visual history of the past 100 years,
featuring Bournville College itself as well as the origins of the Cadbury Brothers. Bush will create a sound installation inside two MG cars at the event; people will be invited to sit in the cars to hear audio excerpts, in the artist’s own words, of the history of the Austin and Longbridge car plant and regeneration of the area today.
Light installations by Raphel Daden
LONGBRIDGE PUBLIC ART PROJECT
Longbridge Public Art Project, produced by EC Arts on behalf of Bournville College, has been funded by Arts Council West Midlands and Birmingham City Council.
The Longbridge Public Art Project will commission a number of artists in residence across Longbridge. The artists will explore key project themes in discussion with the local community to support and inform the artists concept development for public art in response to Longbridge. Artistsâ€™ work will vary in scale, form and permanency, with sensitivity to the locale, people and environment, creating a two-way dialogue with surroundings, and helping to build a renewed identity for Longbridge.
The artist residencies will offer the community an opportunity to participate in the artistic process and play a key role in influencing parts of the physical and social infrastructure of Longbridge. The public art outcomes will respond to the local context and will aim to represent the diverse perspectives of the area.
The project will support the regeneration of Longbridge by enhancing gateways, building identity, animating public space and generating a sense of arrival to Longbridge as a destination by road, train or by foot.
THE HISTORY OF LONGBRIDGE
The rich and complex history of Longbridge began with Herbert Austin, founder of the Austin Motor Company, who purchased the Longbridge site in 1905. Within 30 years, cars coming off the production line at the Longbridge plant were being sold around the world. Austin, along with George Cadbury and the Cadbury broth Ltd, made significant contributions to the local economy, and transformed both landscape and lives with philanthropic work, nurturing strong communities and providing high-quality amenities for the respective workforces.
Six years after the closure of the car plant in 2005, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation has resumed car production on the site, and the MG Motor UK Longbridge plant has produced the first MG 6 in the United Kingdom. As part of the Longbridge Public Art Project, two artists will work in residence at MG Motor UK with current and former production workers to develop concepts for a public art gateway into Longbridge.
‘Most everything worthwhile was born of some dreamer’s dream.’ This is the saying most associated with Herbert Austin, although they are not is own words. He had it framed in his office, now a museum open to the public at MG Motor UK Ltd, Longbridge.
ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE
Artists will explore a number of themes as they develop their work in response to Longbridge. These themes are designed to be researched in depth to address the complexities of Longbridge and its rich and politically-sensitive history. The themes are: • Past • Present • Future • Identity • Lighting • Technology • Connectivity
Antonio Roberts is a British digital artist whose artwork focuses on the errors and glitches generated by digital technology. Many people would simply discard such artefacts but Antonio preserves these errors and displays them as art. With his roots in free culture, he develops his techniques using open source and other freelyavailable software, sharing his knowledge through the development of this technology.
Nikki Pugh is interested in how people interact with the social and physical landscapes around them and how frameworks like narrative, problem solving and digital tools can be applied to change how these are perceived.
Rob Hewitt’s Redhawk Logistica delivers cultural solutions to civic space issues and reports on contemporary urban phenomena. Much of its work takes the form of lowtech interventions which exist as subliminal influences within public spaces, highlighting the potential of the individual. Rob records interventions, which often have a second life, through documentation, dissemination and exhibition.
20 LUKE PERRY
ELIZABETH ROWE & CHRIS POOLMAN
Luke Perry is the Director of IHIS, a company responsible for building one of the largest mining monuments in the world. He has re-made parts of the industrial landscape, created life sized communities in steel, and created one of the country’s most iconic figurative sculptures. As well as producing monuments and landmarks, Luke and IHIS have become specialists in sculpture trails, working directly with the users of canals, town centres and nature reserves to create interpretation and sculpture.
Cathy Wade is an interdisciplinary artist who works through collaboration, curation and research. Wade’s practice is located at the intersection of people, place, playfulness, technology, planting and growing.
Hannah Hull is a situationspecific artist, creating social sculpture and political interventions. Her work is often dialogue-based and temporal. Her practice invites people to articulate the spaces in between: to disclose new sites, histories and languages. Hannah’s approach is dynamic and responsive: an open mechanism that allows things to be made, reformed and challenged. The outcome of this process might be an action; it might be an object; it might be words.
Elizabeth Rowe & Chris Poolman have been commissioned to develop a unique artistic proposition for Longbridge’s first Lighting Festival in 2014.
“Lighting does more than simply illuminate a place. Lighting is a key element that affects how we feel about a place” Lighting Places, 2008
2014 LIGHTING FESTIVAL FOR LONGBRIDGE
In developing the Longbridge public art vision and strategy, EC Arts identified an opportunity, within the theme of lighting, for an annual public art commission for Longbridge, in the form of an annual Lighting Festival, launching in 2014. In partnership with Birmingham City Council and Lyon’s Fête des Lumières based in Birmingham’s sister city Lyon, artists in residence Elizabeth Rowe and Chris Poolman, within the Longbridge Public Art Project, will develop the first Lighting Festival proposition specifically for Longbridge. From October 2014, the Festival will utilise the public realm as social and artistic platforms across the newly developed Longbridge, reactivating and animating
the area, with the aspiration of returning it to the thriving place it once was. The Festival development process will bring people together every year to experience, enjoy and celebrate the rebirth of the area and promote Longbridge as a future destination. Every year the Festival will create numerous art commission opportunities as it evolves and grows into an exciting annual event that establishes Longbridge as a destination and supports St Modwen’s regeneration programme and the rebirth of Longbridge. The Lighting Festival was inspired by Fête des Lumières, Lyon, which has grown from its humble beginnings into a vibrant lighting festival with an
international reputation for artistic work of a consistently high standard, generating numerous artist commissions and attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to Lyon each year. EC Arts witnessed for itself, through a visit to Lyon, the permanent legacy and impact of this festival, embedded in the city’s architecture, public art and public space lighting, earning Lyon a reputation as a City of Light. By creating an annual Lighting Festival for Longbridge, launching in October 2014, EC Arts and Bournville College aspire to build up a similar long-term legacy for Longbridge by commissioning a permanent light based installation every year within
the Festival, embedding lighting incrementally over time and promoting Longbridge as a destination.
24 INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP
25 Birmingham and Lyon are sister cities which have worked in close partnership for more than 60 years. Through instrumental support from Gérard Collomb, Mayor of Lyon, and Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, and on behalf of Bournville College, EC Arts has established a partnership with Fête des Lumières, Lyon.
The partnership between Bournville College and Fête des Lumières will create knowledge and artistic exchange opportunities between the sister cities through the development of this annual Lighting Festival for Longbridge.
PARTNERS, SPONSORS & THANKS
With thanks and gratitude to the
Richard Burden, MP.
following funders and sponsors for
Fête des Lumières, Lyon Birmingham City Council
their kind support:
Councillor Ian Cruise.
Arts Council West Midlands
Neil Rami, CEO, Marketing
Direction de l’Attractivité et des
Relations Internationales -
Birmingham City Council
Grand Lyon / Ville de Lyon. Sir Dominic Cadbury.
MG Motor UK Ltd. Peter Wright, Birmingham City
With special thanks to the following
with their valued support to EC Arts
John Maillard, Birmingham City
on behalf of Bournville College in
people that have been instrumental
making this project happen: European and International Sir Albert Bore, Leader of
Affairs, Birmingham City
Birmingham City Council.
Gérard Collomb, Mayor of the
Sarah Bartlett, Copywriter.
City of Lyon and Greater Lyon. St Modwen. Mark Barrow, Strategic Director, Planning & Regeneration, Birmingham City Council.
26 â€œPublic art and artists can play a key role in creating a sense of place, enhancing local distinctiveness and improving the quality of developmentsâ€?