New coach station arts project lights up Birmingham skyline
The long-awaited public art project at National Express’s new Birmingham Coach Station will receive its formal unveiling tonight as the lights on the dramatic new artwork are switched on.
Tonight’s ceremony marks the culmination of the two year long Digbeth Public Art Project.
The project comprises the 181 metre long Boundary fence which is made up of 320 steel haunches, which wraps round the new Coach Station.
The other major piece is the Irish Quarter Artwork which is mounted on the exposed brickwork of 321 Bradford Street. This is the first visual representation for the Irish Quarter based on the traditional Irish greeting, ‘One Hundred Thousand Welcomes’.
The new art works have been developed through community consultation and recognise the importance of Digbeth as a gateway to the city whilst reflecting its rich cultural heritage through contemporary art. The ‘Boundary’ plays with the viewer’s perception of space and perspective as the Irish Quarter’s visual art embraces them with the promise of a warm welcome.
The art work is being launched in advance of the new Coach Station opening for business on Monday 14 December.
The journey of the Digbeth Public Art Project has been documented in a short film which will play in the coach station waiting area as a permanent digital media installation when the station opens later this month, supplementing passenger awareness of the public art and providing an invaluable record of the city’s regeneration as part of the Big City Plan.
The Digbeth Public Arts Project
The Digbeth Public Art Project has been spearheaded by National Express and part of the coach station redevelopment and implemented by Claire Farrell, EC-Arts with contributions from the Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council – Big City Plan, Glenn Howells Architects EBNS, South Birmingham College and the Irish Quarter Partnership.
The Digbeth Public Art Project is the winner of the Jaguar Land Rover Arts & Business Award 2009 for the best partnership that has encouraged specific community engagement with the arts and has made a significant contribution to regeneration and sustainable growth in the region
Designed by Rob Colbourne and Stuart Mugridge the ‘Boundary’ of the new coach station consists of 320 individual steel plated haunches stretching for 181 metres and rising in height from 2.2 metres to 6 metres. The initial design used community consultation at the concept development stage in order to distil some of the rich history of Digbeth into a contemporary installation with the overarching theme of ‘balance and flow’, reminiscent of Avery weights and scales which were based near the site. The colour of the fence is a homage to the famous Midland Red buses and its fabrication harks back to Birmingham’s industrial past. Spanning the perimeter and visible from various locations the ‘Boundary’ will have a dramatic impact on the aesthetics of Digbeth.
Irish Quarter Visual Art – the first visual representation for the Irish Quarter
Noted Irish artist, David Sherry will be unveiling his permanent installation on the exposed brickwork of 321 Bradford Street, at the entrance to the new National Express coach station. The textual artwork has been developed using the handwriting of Digbeth resident Sister Sabina and the traditional Irish greeting, ‘Caed mil failte’ translated to ‘A hundred thousand welcomes’. The 10 metre by 7.5 metre installation will be a landmark for the Irish Quarter. It is fabricated from the innovative plastic composite ‘Made in Birmingham’.
This film documents the development of the Digbeth Public Art Project and illustrates the collaborative processes between private, public, community and artistic interests and has been made by a group of young people as part of their Silver Arts Award Challenge.