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Comedy Carpet book launches as exhibition heads to China

  • Date: 18 December 2013
  • Area: North
Blackpool Official Guide 1953

Blackpool Official Guide 1953. Credit: Blackpool Central Library

A new book telling the vivid story of how Blackpool's biggest piece of public artwork was created was launched on Friday 13 December at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom with artist Gordon Young, Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council and Jane Beardsworth, Senior Relationship Manager, Arts Council England in attendance. The project was supported by our Lottery funded Grants for the arts programme.

The book documents the creation of the stone slabs and individual letters, jokes and catchphrases from over 1,000 comedians as well as images from the opening of the carpet in 2011 by comedian Ken Dodd. The carpet lies opposite the Blackpool Tower on Blackpool's Promenade and was commissioned by Blackpool Council using part of a £4 million grant from CABE's Seachange programme.

As well as proving to be a popular tourist attraction it has engaged school children throughout Blackpool. Pupils from primary and secondary schools have been improving their literacy skills by completing projects and board games based on the carpet and special classes around the artwork have been used to help children improve their English. Around 300 pupils learnt a Charleston routine inspired by black and white silent movies which was performed at the launch.

An accompanying exhibition about the Comedy Carpet has been unveiled at Shanghai's biggest ever design show, Aesthetics City. The artwork has been included as part of the Design Shanghai 2013 exhibition at Shanghai's Power Station of Art (China's equivalent to the Tate Modern) which is showcasing work from artists from all over the world. A large vinyl print of the carpet, along with two videos and some samples of the granite letters, are on display until 30 March 2014 as part of the City of Interface section curated by Li Degeng.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: 'It's a real coup that a piece of artwork in Blackpool is being showcased on the other side of the world at one of China's most prestigious art centres. Not only does it promote the cultural aspect of the town to thousands of international visitors, but is also a great advertisement for Blackpool in a country which has the potential to attract thousands of tourists here to see the real Comedy Carpet.'

The Comedy Carpet, and the work of its creator, Gordon Young, has already achieved international acclaim, scooping the Tokyo Type Directors award in 2012 seeing off competition from more than 350 other international entries.