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Fifty-Nine Artists Take the Lead in Race for Twelve London 2012 Commissions
Ben Long, Artists taking the lead, North West. © Matthew Andrews 2009.
LONDON.- Arts Council England and London 2012 announced the shortlist for Artists taking the lead, one of the most ambitious and wide ranging art commissions in the UK, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

From over 2,000 entries, 59 projects have been shortlisted, including leading names from across the arts such as Martin Creed, Simon Armitage and Richard Wilson.

Examples of the 59 shortlisted proposals include:

· Using London bus stops to tell stories across the Capital

· An Arctic island the size of a football pitch towed around the South West coast

· Hovering fields of light in the East Midlands

· A spinning column of cloud rising from Liverpool’s docks as far as the eye can see

· An extraordinary wingless ‘bird’ which will travel across Wales

· Cloud sculptures generated from disused chimney stacks across Scotland

· A warehouse installation of discarded items, leading to a community performance in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter

· Thousands of beehives set up and cared for by artists to reverse the decline of the honeybee in the East of England

· Three giant lions made of crochet installed in a glass case in Nottinghamshire

From the shortlist of 59, twelve commissions totalling £5.4million will be awarded to create twelve new works of art across the country to celebrate London 2012; one in each of the nine English regions, and in the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Artists were challenged to submit their ideas for the twelve commissions between 19 March and 29 May 2009, in which time a total of 2163 submissions were received. Independent panels of artists and producers in each nation and region then judged the applications and arrived at their shortlist.

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London, said on behalf of the UK arts councils: ‘It’s been a really tough job for our panels of artists to choose just a few of the many exceptional ideas that were submitted, but I’m wowed by the shortlist we’ve arrived at – it offers an exciting overview of our nation’s creativity, and is bringing great art to some very unexpected places.

‘What’s clear is that artists really want to engage with the public, whether leading creative events to celebrate London 2012, or debating key issues such as climate change or the decline of the honeybee. I hope people will get involved with the projects, and tell us what they think of them at www.artiststakingthelead.org.uk ’

The shortlisted artists will each receive a development grant of up to £5,000 to turn their initial proposals into comprehensive plans. They will present these to the artist panels in late September, who will then decide the final twelve commissions, due to be announced in October 2009.

The twelve successful commissions will be developed across 2010 and 2011 in close collaboration with local communities. All twelve will take part in a final unifying celebration, prior to the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe commented: ‘I’m thrilled with the calibre of this shortlist. We want the Cultural Olympiad to bring art and sport together, inspiring and unlocking creativity and talent all round the country, and these projects do exactly that.’

Barbara Follett, Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism said: ‘This remarkable shortlist shows the breadth of artistic talent we have in the United Kingdom and how many people have been inspired to make their mark for London 2012. Through Artists taking the lead, every part of the country will get a new and exciting artwork which combines the sporting and cultural spirit of the 2012 Games.’


Arts Council England | London 2012 | Martin Creed | Simon Armitage | Richard Wilson |


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