Unboxed: Oil rig in lido to form part of UK-wide arts event

Image source, New Substance
Image caption,
An artist's impression of how See Monster will look in Weston-super-Mare

A scale model of the solar system, a decommissioned North Sea oil platform and a pop-up forest will form part of a major UK arts event planned for 2022.

Unboxed: Creativity in the UK will run from March to October and feature 10 separate projects that draw on science, technology, engineering and maths.

TV historian David Olusoga and composer Nitin Sawhney are among those involved.

Chief organiser Martin Green said it would create "once-in-a-lifetime events and online experiences for millions".

"Unboxed represents an unprecedented and timely opportunity for people to come together across the UK and beyond," he went on.

He said the event - described as "the UK's biggest and most ambitious public creative programme to date" - would generate "awe-inspiring projects that speak to who we are and explore the ideas that will define our futures."

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Organiser Martin Green said last year he hopes the festival will be "something exciting to look forward to"

The project was dubbed the Festival of Brexit when it was first announced in 2018 and had been operating under the working title Festival UK 2022.

However, Green told Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday that that "never is and never was" the case.

"This is a celebration of creativity happening across the UK bringing together our best creative minds from science, technology, engineering, arts and maths to do large scale creative public engagement projects that are both live online and through traditional broadcast, so you can experience them from wherever you are in the world," he explained.

Here are short descriptions of the 10 projects that make up the programme, which will run from 1 March to 2 October next year.

About Us

Image source, 59 Productions/The Poetry Society/Stemettes
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An artist's impression of the About Us multimedia installations

A combination of live shows and multimedia installations, About Us will whisk audiences "on a journey through 13.8 billion years of our history from the Big Bang to the present day".

Buildings and landmarks in five towns and cities - Paisley, Derry-Londonderry, Caernarfon, Luton and Hull - will be transformed "into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations [and] projection mapping technology".

Local choirs will perform a new score by composer Nitin Sawhney, while an outdoor installation will incorporate submissions from a UK-wide poetry and computer coding competition for children and young people.

About Us will run for a week in each location, with multimedia installations open throughout the day and multiple free performances every evening.


Image source, Dandelion Collective
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An artist's impression of a 'cube of perpetual light'

Described as a "re-imagination of the harvest festival for the 21st Century", Dandelion is a programme "of food, music and ideas" that will take place across Scotland.

The event will incorporate a series of miniature vertical farms - dubbed "cubes of perpetual light" - that will be used to promote produce growing in local communities.

Two major music and food festivals in Glasgow and Inverness will be held as part of an event that will begin in April and follow the growing season.

Angus Farquhar, Dandelion's creative director, said it would aim to "re-establish harvest as a significant annual festival for everyone".


Image source, Collective Act
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Dreamachine will feature music from electronic musician Jon Hopkins

Described as an artwork to be seen with your eyes closed, Dreamachine is an "an immersive live experience" that will visit Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.

It is based on a 1959 invention by English artist Brion Gysin that used flickering light to produce visual stimuli in the mind of the viewer.

According to director Jennifer Crook, "the rich kaleidoscopic visuals created by the Dreamachine will come from within, providing a magical insight into the extraordinary potential of our own minds".

Electronic musician Jon Hopkins, whose albums Diamond Mine and Immunity were nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011 and 2013 respectively, will provide music for the "interdisciplinary collaboration".

Galwad: A story from our future

Set in the year 2052, Galwad - 'call' in Welsh - will imagine the Wales of the future through a mix of live performance and a TV drama to be shown on an as yet unspecified channel.

The live events for what is described as "a new kind of multi-platform story" will take place on location in Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Alex McDowell, the Bafta-nominated production designer of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Man of Steel, will co-design the project's futuristic landscape.

According to creative director Claire Doherty, Galwad will invite audiences "to explore the moral dilemmas and possibilities of a different kind of future."

Green Space Dark Skies

Image source, Walk the Plank
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An artist's impression of Green Space Dark Skies

In 1932, hundreds of protesting ramblers walked on to private land on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire to assert their right to roam.

Ninety years on from this mass trespass, which led to the establishment of access rights to the countryside, a nationwide event will see 20,000 people take part in another collective intervention.

According to organisers, it will see national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty illuminated by "dramatic chains of light" that will "sweep down mountains and through valleys".

Geo-positioning light technology will help the participants, otherwise known as 'Lumenators', make moving pictures across the landscape that will be filmed and shared online.

Our Place in Space

Image source, Nerve Centre Collective
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An artist's impression of Our Place in Space

If you've ever wanted to put the distance between the Sun and Pluto into perspective, a 10km sculpture trail in Northern Ireland and Cambridge will give you what you desire.

Sculptures representing the planets in the solar system will dot a trail that will take walkers from Derry-Londonderry via Divis and Belfast to Northern Ireland's North Down Coastal Path.

The trail, designed by artist and children's author Oliver Jeffers with help from astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt, can also be experienced at a riverside location in Cambridge.

Jeffers describes the trail as "a playful experiment" that will feature music by the Irish composer and sound artist Die Hexen.


Image source, THISS/Carl Robertshaw/Bronia Housman
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An artist's impression of PoliNations

Birmingham's city centre will play host to a "pop-up" forest garden as part of this arboreal project, which also forms part of the city's Commonwealth Games festivities.

A single large tree structure in Edinburgh will also contribute to a project that celebrates "the global origins of the UK's plants and population".

According to organisers, PoliNations will celebrate multiculturalism "through the metaphor of the incredible biodiversity of our plant-life".

Installations, live music, talks and performances will also be included in a project led by the Bristol-based arts organisation Trigger.

See Monster

A decommissioned North Sea offshore platform will be transformed into a public art installation in the coastal town of Weston-super-Mare.

The town's former lido, the Tropicana, will play host to the structure, which will have planted gardens and meeting places as part of its repurposing.

Artistic director Patrick O'Mahony said the project would serve as "a springboard to explore the concept of inherited structures and to question what we do with them".

The Tropicana closed as a lido in 2000 and subsequently played host to Dismaland, an art exhibition curated by graffiti artist Banksy, in 2015.


Image source, BFI/Nexus/Uplands
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David Olusoga beside an artist's impression of StoryTrails

Fifteen locations across the UK, two of them in London, will play host to "virtual portals" in a project involving stories of historical change.

Its creators will work with communities in each of the locations to uncover "unknown, surprising and intriguing" stories drawn from local history.

Broadcaster David Olusoga will work alongside the British Film Institute, the National Film and Television School and other organisations on the "immersive" experience.

The result, according to organisers, will be "one of the most ambitious living history and archive projects ever undertaken".

Tour de Moon

Perhaps the hardest of the projects to summarise is Tour de Moon, a series of festivals, satellite events and "nightlife experiences" inspired by, yes, the Moon.

What we do know is it will feature new work on a lunar theme that will be commissioned by writers, musicians and performers aged between 18 and 25.

According to organisers, the project will endeavour to "ignite imaginations in playful, critical and intriguing ways... through unexpected collaborations".

Among its ambitions are the formation of "a travelling convoy" and the development of "a new alien music genre" through bouncing music off the Moon.

Image source, Benjamin Mehigan/Tour de Moon
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An artist's impression of a travelling moon convoy

"When we started out on this journey we had two objectives: to celebrate creativity and bring people together," said Green at an online briefing on Wednesday.

"Unboxed is about exploring the importance of creativity in generating new ideas and opportunities that shape the way we work, live and play.

"We also hope that people across the UK and further afield will enjoy it, because we also want it to be fun."

Green said the event had been called Unboxed because it involved "unleashing creativity", something he said was "at the heart of the everyday and of our futures".

The 10 projects were selected from ideas generated by 30 creative teams who were given research and development funding last year to develop their pitches.

Unboxed is funded and supported by the four governments of the UK and will be delivered in partnership with Belfast City Council, Creative Wales and EventScotland.

Dame Vikki Heywood, chair of the Unboxed board, said the "inspiring" programme would "support economic recovery in the UK by reanimating towns and cities".

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