The Great Big Art Exhibition kicks off across the UK with help from artist Antony Gormley

The Great Big Art Exhibition kicks off across the UK with help from artist Antony Gormley
Firstsite and artist Antony Gormley kick off the Great Big Art Exhibition asking people across the UK to get creative at home. Courtesy Flickr Commons.
Leading lights  -   Artists

In the throes of its third national lockdown, people across the UK are looking for ways to persevere through the pandemic. To get people creating while they remain at home, artist Antony Gormley has kicked off The Great Big Art Exhibition, an initiative launched by Firstsite, which is encouraging people everywhere and of all artistic backgrounds to take part.

The Great Big Art Exhibition kicked off last week with its first theme: animals. Gormley, the well-known sculptor of the Angel of the North, chose the theme and offered up some sculpting inspiration and tips for making your own artworks at home. The project has received support from other major artists, including Sonia Boyce – who will represent the UK in the next Venice Biennale and has selected portraits to be the exhibition’s second theme – and Anish Kapoor, as well as museums across the UK that are getting involved offering up inspiration from their own collections while their doors are closed.

“At a time when all the theatres and galleries are shut it is wonderful to somehow tap into the extraordinary reservoirs of creativity in the country and celebrate the diversity of range and thought and feelings that exist,” said Gormley. “We want to let the inner animal out. People will find their inner animal… it could be a whale or a dinosaur.”

The project, which hopes to create a “magical patchwork of creativity” and “unleash our national flair,” follows another initiative that swept through the UK throughout 2020 that saw rainbows pop up in front windows everywhere. The rainbows were created in solidarity with the NHS and saw the likes of Damien Hirst take part and the V&A began collecting homemade creations to document life during the pandemic. The Great Big Art Exhibition follows in a similar vein making your home your own creative and exhibition space.

Getting involved with the Great Big Art Exhibition is quite simple and the invitation is extended to everyone. A downloadable packet gets you started and includes a wealth of inspiration.

Whether you work with paints, prefer to sketch, or enjoy dabbling in video works, all mediums are fair game in the exhibition. Collaborative works made alongside your household or with friends are allowed, too, although Firstsite stresses the need to adhere to government COVID-19 guidelines on social distancing.

Every two weeks, a new theme will be suggested through Firstsite to keep the exhibition rotating.

If you’d like to be a part of the Great Big Art Exhibition, showcase your art at home or in your garden. Then, post a photo of your art on the social media platform of your choosing using #thegreatbigartexhibiton2021 hashtag and by tagging Firstsite. If you opt for an online viewing, Firstsite has asked artists to include their first name, the city or town that you live in, and a short description of your work.

Based in Colchester, Firstsite is an arts organization founded in 1994 that focuses on education. The Great Big Art Exhibition coincides the 10th anniversary of Firstsite’s new building where the charity continues its outreach and presents a rotation of exhibitions.