Digbeth public art project
National Express has unveiled a dramatic 190 metre work of art to be constructed at the new Digbeth coach station.
The 190 metre long red ‘fencescape’ will act as a perimeter to the site, and is constructed of individual steel strips which lean, and change shape, as visitors move around the fence. Each strip will be painted with red enamel gloss and be lit from beneath by spotlights, to play with shadows and light.
The coach station is one of the main entry points to the city with 1.5 million arrivals and departures per year. The new £15 million station is scheduled to be completed late 2009.
In May 2008, National Express appointed local company EC-Arts to implement and project manage a public art strategy and Rob Colbourne and Stuart Mugridge as lead artists.
The ‘fencescape’ is just one element of the project, providing a futuristic structure based on the coach site’s industrial past as HQ for Midland Red coaches and former home to scales manufacturer Avery.
Artist Stuart Mugridge said: “It had to be something that was responsive to the history of the site but was also contemporary looking; it’s about continuing references.”
The £300,000 project will be funded by National Express with contributions from Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Irish Forum and Irish Quarter Regeneration.
A video document of the arts project will be installed inside the station building itself, where passengers and visitors can watch footage showing the site’s rebirth and development. The film has been developed with the involvement of schoolchildren from the Voice of Aston community centre as part of their Arts Awards studies.
Project Manager Claire Farrell from EC Arts, said:
“National Express has invested in the coach station and the public art strategy. By developing an arts project themselves, rather than buying a piece of off the shelf art that is irrelevant to the local community, the coach station and Birmingham will be getting public art that has a sense of place.”
Clive Dutton, Director of Planning and Regeneration at Birmingham City Council, said:
“This is an early and brilliant visual project that relates to what the Big City Plan is all about. It’s great that we can polish the design for the new coach station and complement the £1 million environmental enhancement scheme; all that demonstrates our contribution to Digbeth, one of the real jewels in the crown of the city.”