Susan Philipsz - Station Clock

Birmingham Big Art Project has announced the winning £2 million public artwork that has been commissioned for the city of Birmingham.

Station Clock, by Turner Prize-winning Susan Philipsz, is a large-scale aural clock, comprising of 12 digits representing the 12 tones of the musical scales, using different vocal combinations for each digit. The sounds of ‘Station Clock’ will be made of up to 1,092 voices from Birmingham’s diverse population. The voices will sound on the hour every hour and last for between 5 and 25 seconds, sounding very low overnight and fuller sounding during the day, culminating in a large chorus at noon. The sounds and silences in-between are part of the artwork, creating a unique experience that unfolds over 24 hours, seven days a week.

Birmingham Big Art Project believes that art is a vital part of our city’s past, present and future and its aim is to commission a new public artwork that can support and expand the idea of a twenty-first century city.

It is the most ambitious public art commission in Birmingham’s long history. In 2013, a rigorous public process of selecting the artist and artwork for Birmingham was initiated by the charitable trust, the Birmingham Big Art Foundation, to imagine a major new permanent public artwork for the city. A steering group made up of key city stakeholders and esteemed cultural leaders was appointed to agree a strategic plan and assist in raising the target sum of £2 million.

Glyn Pitchford, Chairman of Birmingham Big Art Project said: “Station Clock is an inspired and unique artwork which will very quickly become an iconic image for the city of Birmingham, a must-see sculpture which cleverly mixes sound with space in a physical form and challenges the idea of public art in a new dimension.

“In its own right it will become a destination for lovers of culture, a sculpture which projects sounds hourly from 12 tones of the musical scales. It will have both cultural and educational impact, embracing Birmingham’s diverse communities, an ideal artwork for a new public square to be developed around the exciting new HS2 terminal in Eastside.

“Station Clock achieves the aims of the Birmingham Big Art Project, aligning with one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK.”

Susan Philipsz added: “I am very proud and honoured to be selected as the winning artist. It will be my first permanent public artwork in the UK and can’t wait to get started on it. One of the inspirations for the work was Birmingham’s diversity. I like the idea of using lots of different types of voices, different textures of voices, male and female, old and young. I hope to record the voices of the people of Birmingham to create a moment where diverse voices come together, which at times it will sound harmonious and at other times, discordant. Together, I anticipate we can make something truly remarkable for this city.”

Birmingham Big Art Project has appointed a fundraising consultant with over 15 years’ experience in fundraising for the cultural sector. Caroline Taylor has developed a fundraising strategy for the £2 million, which incorporates a campaign to generate funds from corporate sponsors, funding bodies such as Arts Council England and key stakeholders who stand to benefit from the project.

The £2 million target will cover the production and installation of the artwork, including materials, transportation, public liability and maintenance. It also includes a large-scale public engagement programme, which will be spread across the years leading up to the unveiling of the finished artwork.

Caroline Taylor, who has raised significant funds for capital projects, including the Black Country Living Museum and Birmingham Conservation Trust, said: “The Birmingham Big Art Project is hugely exciting for the city because it will create a permanent artwork that will go hand in hand with the major development of Eastside and I’m thrilled to be part of it. The depth and breadth of talented artists who submitted their proposals is testament to the impact that this cultural project will have on the landscape, and it will be interesting to see the winning artwork’s impact on the regional economy. This is a great opportunity for the people of Birmingham to stand up and do something great for their city and be a part of something truly inspiring.”

Follow Birmingham Big Art Project on Facebook: @BhamBigArtProject and Twitter: @BigArtProject.

 

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