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Welcome to the North public art programme

  • Date: 10 June 2011
  • Artform: Visual arts
  • Area: North
Sculpture figures on beach Another Place, Antony Gormley, Photo: Robert Cook

Northern Way's Welcome to the North public art programme was an ambitious initiative investing £4.5 million into public art projects. The project sought to change perceptions of the North of England.

At its time it was the largest public art programme of its kind in Britain, bringing together internationally renowned artists, expert project teams and local communities.

Welcome to the North worked with some of the most respected names in contemporary public art including Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Richard Wilson, Hans Peter Kuhn, Greyworld, Jaume Plensa, Landlab and others. The artists created work that encourages new ways of looking at places and spaces.

A total of 10 projects received funding from the Northern Way's Welcome to the North programme. Five projects were given significant core funding resulting in new artworks in Rossendale, Liverpool, Middlesborough and Leeds and helping to secure Antony Gormley's Another Place in Crosby as a permanent piece.

Four further projects were given development funding including projects within the Channel 4 Big Art initiative at St Helens, Burnley and Sheffield. In addition a virtual artwork The Wonderful North was commissioned.

Who was involved

The Welcome to the North programme was the result of a partnership between the three Northern Regional Development Agencies, Arts Council England and the former Yorkshire Culture.

Arts Council England coordinated the delivery of the Northern Way Public Art Programme and commissioned The Wonderful North virtual artwork

The Northern Way brought together the cities and regions of the North of England to work together to improve the sustainable economic development of the North.

More about the artworks

Core projects

Another Place in Crosby by Antony Gormley

Another Place is created from 100 cast iron figures, life size replicas of Gormley's own body, which face out to sea, spread over a two mile stretch of beach. Another Place is now a major tourism attraction for the area, having increased tourist revenue and attracted a reported additional 350,000 visitors per year, with a £5 million impact on the local economy. Secured permanently in March 2007.

Halo in Rossendale by John Kennedy of Landlab

Halo is an 18m diameter steel sculpture positioned on an old quarry and former landfill site above Haslingden. Part of the Panopticons series of works situated across Pennine Lancashire, Halo commands dramatic views overlooking the Rossendale Valley. Launched in September 2007.

Light Neville Street in Leeds by Hans Peter Kuhn

This project uses public art to help improve the environment in one of the main thoroughfares into Leeds city centre. The installation combines a sound and light artwork by Hans Peter Kuhn with the ingenious engineering of the Neville Street project led by Bauman Lyons Architects to give a constantly changing experience to users of this gateway into the city. Launched in October 2009.

Temenos in Middlesborough by Anish Kapoor

Temenos is the first of the Tees Valley Giants, a planned series of five art installations by sculptor Anish Kapoor and leading structural designer Cecil Balmond, of Arup. The world renowned artist and engineer are known for the monumental scale of their work and Temenos stands 50m high and 110m long. Launched in June 2010.

Turning the Place Over in Liverpool by Richard Wilson

This artwork was Richard Wilson's most radical intervention into architecture to date, turning a building in Liverpool's city centre literally inside out. The work was a temporary installation in a building earmarked for redevelopment. The project was a trailblazer for Liverpool's Year as European Capital of Culture 2008 and launched in June 2007.

Development projects

Dream in St Helens by Jaume Plensa

This 20-metre-high sculpture by the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, represents the head of a child with her eyes closed. It is the artist's response to a brief from the project group of ex-miners and other community members who wanted a work that looked to a brighter future. The work is sited on top of the former Sutton Manor Colliery spoil-heap, overlooking the M62. Launched in May 2009.

Invisible in Burnley by Greyworld

Greyworld used the whole town of Burnley as their canvas to create a series of invisible paintings. Using UV paint they have created paintings of all different sizes on the buildings around the town. The colourful images range from movie-style posters, to animals, birds, insects and comic scenes, to a series of 'local heroes' - Burnley people nominated by their peers for their work in the community. The paintings are revealed by UV lights. The commission was led by a core group of 15 young people, aged between 12 - 15 years old. Launched in March 2008.

Durham Sky Bowl  - did not progress beyond development

Sheffield Cooling Towers - did not progress beyond development

Commissioned project

The Wonderful North

The Wonderful North was an online artwork celebrating the North. The website presented an online Expo showcasing the objects, places and people artists Bryan and Laura Davies encountered during a month long exploration of the North in a camper van decked out as a high tech mobile studio.

During the project, guided by website visitor recommendations, the couple travelled to an eclectic range of places gathering material for their online artwork. Developed with new media agency Numiko, the website presented a window onto the North of England and provided a forum for debate about public art.

Evaluation

The Welcome to the North programme has been independently evaluated, looking at the impact projects have made, lessons learned and overall success of the programme.

This evaluation has been completed by the Policy Research Institute at Leeds Metropolitan University in association with CUDEM and RKL Consulting. The report, together with the Programme Manager's final report and other research studies relating to the Northern Way's Welcome to the North project, is available on this page.