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The Big Art Project

  • Date: 12 March 2008
  • Artform: All
  • Area: National
Dream by Jaume Plensa, as part of Big Art, a 2009 partnership between Arts Council and Channel 4  Dream by Jaume Plensa, as part of Big Art, a 2009 partnership between Arts Council and Channel 4 , Photo: Karen Wright Photography

The Big Art Project is a public art initiative from Channel 4 supported by Arts Council England and The Art Fund which seeks to inspire and create new works of public art, commissioned by communities, as well as debating the importance of art in the built environment.

Sunday 10 May 2009 saw the start of the four-part Big Art series on Channel 4. The series focused on the seven sites that were nominated by local inhabitants for a piece of public art to be commissioned, including Burnley, Sheffield, Newham and Mull. For more information and to see the trailers that have been made visit the Big Art website

The Big Art Project

The Big Art Project is an ambitious public art commissioning initiative from Channel 4, supported by Arts Council England and The Art Fund, to inspire and create new public art across the UK.

It began with an invitation to the public around the UK to explain why their community would benefit from a new piece of public art, made to their brief and created by the artist of their choosing.

Seven sites chosen

The response was overwhelming. Almost 1,400 applications were received from communities across the UK. After some extremely difficult decision-making, seven sites were chosen:

  • Beckton 
  • Belfast 
  • Burnley 
  • Cardigan 
  • Isle of Mull 
  • Sheffield 
  • St. Helens

Each site is very different and the ambitions of the communities are also different, making every project unique. Each community has been asked to find funding, choose an artist, get involved with the process and help realise the dream.

It’s much more than a television series

Through websites, community engagement programmes and other activities it will encourage greater public participation, debate and engagement with art in general. We hope it will inspire people to become involved in creating more art in public places across the country. The Big Art Project will leave a legacy of new works of contemporary art by internationally renowned artists across the UK, and lay the foundations for further public commissions in the future.


In St. Helen's, Dream, Jaume Plensa's spectacular 20-metre high artwork was unveiled in May 2009. Built on the site of the former Sutton Manor Colliery, it is a celebration of the town's mining history, and will be visible to the thousands of motorists who travel along the M62 every day.

Bob Hepworth, Director of Urban Regeneration and Housing at St. Helen's Council, says: 'Realising Dream has been an incredible journey for everyone involved.'

Get involved

Lots more information about the project can be found at:

Help create the first digital, interactive map of public art in the UK, by visiting the Big Art Mob website.

Dreams the lens enables internet users to discover all there is to know about the spectacular 20-metre high artwork in St. Helens