Back in May I wrote about a seminar on the 10th birthday of Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North. I mentioned some other big public art projects. This morning I was at the launch of another, even bigger, which I couldn’t mention at the time. Tees Valley Giants is a five piece, five site, 10 year work by Anish Kapoor with Cecil Balmond, and today the first, Temenos, was unveiled in Middlesbrough. It is the world’s biggest public art initiative. (Until we hear different.) You can read local coverage of it here. Hopefully it’s the beginning of a productive debate: if everyone likes it straight away, it may not have the ‘transforming’ effect necessary.
For me this is not primarily a story of ‘culture-led regeneration’ – though it is that, in spades. Nor is it a story of partnership – though it is that too, with five local authorities, a regional development agency, the Arts Council, a regional foundation, and even the local premiership football club on board (Middlesbrough FC contributing cold hard cash to set an example of civic leadership to some other clubs) under the leadership of Tees Valley Regeneration. It is a story about art (and engineering) and excellence. Get a world class artist into the right place and the unimaginable can happen. You can link the past and future and you can bring people together behind a vision. Take a virtual tour here. And next year, all being well, come to Middlesbrough and see the real thing.