Artists taking the lead was the UK Arts Councils' flagship project for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Twelve extraordinary public art commissions were created across the country, one in each nation and region of the UK, to help celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The winning commissions were selected by independent panels of artists and producers, and were funded by Arts Council England in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales.

Find out more about the commissions below and via the videos to the right.

East: On Landguard Point

Suffolk-raised artist Robert Pacitti developed a series of large-scale, public outdoor events exploring notions of 'home' which then went on to contribute to a feature film in 2012. Find out more about On Landguard Point.

East Midlands: Lionheart Project

The Lionheart Project featured three giant hand-crocheted lions in a custom-built, mobile, glass case. These powerful, realistic sculptures reflected the East Midlands in both symbol and materials, recreating Richard the Lionheart's three lions crest using locally-sourced Swaledale wool, celebrating the region's rich textile heritage. Find out more about Lionheart Project.

London: Bus-Tops

Bus-Tops was a public art installation on the roofs of bus shelters across London. LED panels became canvases, showcasing digital commissions by a range of established artists, as well as allowing Londoners to display their creativity, play games and express what is special about their city. Find out more about Bus-Tops.

North East: Flow

Flow was a tidemill, a floating building - on the River Tyne - that generated its own power using a tidal water wheel. The building housed electro acoustic musical machinery and instruments that responded to the constantly changing environment of the river, generating sound and data. Find out more about Flow.

North West: Column

Anthony McCall's Column was intended to form a slender, sinuous, spinning column of cloud rising into the sky from the surface of the water in Merseyside on East Float in the Wirral.

On 16 April 2013 we announced that, regrettably, the project would not be completed due to a number of contributing factors. Read the Arts Council's statement about the closing of the project.

Find out more about the Column project.

South East: Boat Project

Lone Twin asked people in the South East to donate wooden objects of personal significance, from pencils to dining tables and garden sheds, and incorporated these into the building of a sea-faring boat. Find out more about Boat Project.

South West: Nowhereisland

In summer 2012, Nowhereisland, a large-scale sculpture formed from an Arctic island, floated around the South West of England, stopping at ports and harbours as a visiting ‘island nation’. Find out more about Nowhereisland.

West Midlands: Godiva Awakes

Imagineer Productions brought West Midlands icon Lady Godiva to life as a spectacular 10-metre-high carnival puppet. Find out more about Godiva Awakes.

Yorkshire: Leeds Canvas

The people, streets, arcades and water flowing through the city were the source of the Leeds Canvas project led by the Brothers Quay, involving Leeds artists and arts organisations. Find out more about Leeds Canvas.

Review of the Yorkshire Artists taking the lead selection process

In October 2012 our Chief Operating Officer, Althea Efunshile reviewed the Artists taking the lead selection process in Yorkshire and see if there were lessons to be learnt for the future.

Download the Report of the review of the Yorkshire Artists taking the lead selection process
Word PDF
Download Chief Executive, Alan Davey’s response to the review
Word PDF 

To find out about Artists taking the lead projects in the UK nations, click on the links below.

Northern Ireland: Nest

Nest invited the people of Northern Ireland to create art on a massive scale through the simple act of donating an object. Find out more about Nest.

Scotland: Forest Pitch

Craig Coulthard's Forest Pitch comprised a full-size football pitch hidden within a forest. Commercial trees felled to make space for the pitch were used to create goalposts, a shelter and other infrastructure on site. Find out more about Forest Pitch.

Wales: Adain Avion

Adain Avion was a mobile art space created from the wreckage of a DC-9 airplane, discovered and transformed by Spanish sculptor and designer Eduardo Cajal. Find out more about Adain Avion.