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Five artists shortlisted to ‘Take the Lead’ in £500,000 project

A human-powered lighting event on Arthur’s Seat, a forest football pitch, sculptures of contemporary Olympians, an installation bringing disused industrial chimneystacks to life and a series of travelling sculptural objects are the five projects have been shortlisted for Artists Taking the Lead in Scotland an initiative inspired by London 2012 and the Olympic spirit.

Angus Farquar 'The Speed of Light'  Paul Herrmann Profile Photo UK

One of these five shortlisted ideas will go on to secure a grant of £460k from the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery Fund to become a reality as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Craig Coulthard 'Forest Pitch'  Paul Herrmann Profile Photo UK

Artists taking the lead is one the most ambitious and wide ranging art events in the UK creating 12 commissions across the nations and regions of the UK. Over 2000 artists across the UK submitted ideas for the programme including over 90 submissions for projects in Scotland.

In Scotland, the shortlist was selected by an expert panel of judges made up of artists and arts specialists. The shortlisted artists will each receive a development grant of £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 12 commissions, due to be announced in October 2009.

Joanna Tatham and Tom O'sullivan 'The experience of being like an experience like an experience you just had' Paul Herrmann Photo

The Scottish Arts Council has teamed up with the arts councils of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver Artists Taking the Lead. The chosen project will be one of 12 exciting and innovative responses to the 2012 theme across the UK.

Kate V Robertson 3 Inspire Expire'  Paul Herrmann Profile Photo UK

Details of all 60 shortlisted projects from across the UK are available by visiting www.artiststakingthelead.org.uk where the public have the opportunity to give their opinions about the shortlisted proposals which will then be passed on to the decision making panels.

Shortlisted artists include well established names such as Glasgow sculptor Kenny Hunter, environmental arts organisation NVA and visual artists Tatham and O’Sullivan as well as emerging talent Craig Coulthard and recent graduate Kate V Robertson.

Kenny Hunter 'Five Contemporary Olympians'  Paul Herrmann Profile Photo UK

Five shortlisted projects

The Five shortlisted projects are

  1. NVA: The Speed of Light 
  2. Kenny Hunter: Five Contemporary Olympians
  3. Kate V. Roberston: Inspire / Expire
  4. Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan: The Experience being an experience like an experience you just had.
  5. Craig Coulthard: Forest Pitch

NVA: The Speed of Light

NVA, The Speed Of Light. Image: James

NVA Creative Director Angus Farquhar’s proposal, ‘The Speed of Light’, partnered by United Visual Artists (UVA), is a celebration of human potential through a remarkable intermingling of sports and innovative cultural activity inspired by one of Scotland’s best known natural assets, Arthur’s Seat.

The work will create iconic imagery of physical interaction with the landscape on an immense scale through the invention of a new human powered lighting system with thousands of  participants nightly ascending a  set route. ‘Athletes’ on foot, in wheelchairs and on bikes will be viewable moving at the differing speeds of their physical discipline across and around the hill creating flowing rivers of animated light patterns. The Speed of Light will be captured through photographic documentation to provide a permanent legacy.

Kenny Hunter: Five Contemporary Olympians

Sculptor Kenny Hunter proposal taking inspiration from the Ancient Grecian sculptures such as “Diskobolos” the discus thrower by Myron “to create five large-scale sculptures of contemporary Olympians representing the five competing regions of the world.

Working with a group of athletes from different backgrounds and sporting disciplines to gain a deeper understanding of what is means to be an athlete and what inspires their motivation, discipline and dedication Hunter’s proposal will develop five poses to attempt to reveal aspects of the collective psychology of the Modern Olympian athlete. During the London Olympics he would like to see them exhibited publicly as a group, after that they could be installed permanently at sporting locations throughout Scotland.

Kate V. Roberston:Inspire / Expire

Kate’s proposal Inspire/Expire brings back to life disused industrial chimneys across Scotland using a smoke generator to create ‘lone clouds’. The clouds will constitute a series of poetic moments, a subtle spectacle - ephemeral and momentous in their own right, but also evocative of the industrial communities over which the chimneys once towered.

Acting as a nationwide 'clock', Inspire/Expire will countdown to the start of the Olympics in London.The chimneys will emit one cloud of smoke per day, rotating round all 24 sites to act as a chain of silent beacons, a nationwide timekeeper, a call to reflection or communal reminiscence.  The sites will be documented with CCTV footage, and a video display installed within the nearby communities, broadcasting each chimney live, round the clock. This proposal evolved from Expire, a work which Kate presented at Glasgow’s Tramway for her Glasgow School of Art Masters in Fine Art degree show in June 09.

Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan: The Experience being an experience like an experience you just had.

Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan’s proposal involves four large sculptural objects which will travel across the country to take up temporary residence at a number of locations and communities. The objects, of varying scales, will be designed to activate environments and audiences with each object providing its own possibilities for engagement and direct interaction.

The project will access the existing calendar of events throughout Scotland and will also be the focus of a film.  Tatham and O’Sullivan propose working in partnership with Collective Architecture, the Modern Institute and host communities across Scotland.

Craig Coulthard:Forest Pitch

Craig Coulthard’s proposal Forest Pitch involves a football pitch hidden within a forest and visible only from the London to Edinburgh flight path above.  Trees are felled to make way for a football pitch and used to create a stand, goalposts, changing room/exhibition space. One football match is scheduled to be played on the pitch, open to spectators and once the match has taken place, the pitch will be left to become taken over by nature again.

The changing room is kept as a simple exhibition space to document the project. The pitch itself, with surrounding infrastructure will be taken over again by the natural world, newly planted trees etc, to become a living relic of the Olympics, in contrast to the new buildings created in London for the Games.

For more details visit  

See also
* Artists taking the lead
* Kenny Hunter
* Kate V Robertson
* Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan
* Craig Coulthard
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