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An impression of Breathing - image courtesy of Hayes Davidson

BBC creates new feature for London skyline

Category : BBC
Date : 01.04.2004
Printable version

• Approval granted for major light sculpture by Jaume Plensa on BBC Broadcasting House

• Sculpture to be memorial to news journalists around the world who have lost their lives

• Sculpture to project light beam 900 metres (3,000 feet) into night sky


The BBC is to create a major new feature on the London skyline at BBC Broadcasting House with the approval by Westminster City Council of a new public art commission – Breathing - by the internationally renowned Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.


The light sculpture, to be positioned above the new BBC Broadcasting House complex designed by MacCormac Jamieson Prichard, will be a memorial to news journalists and crew around the world who have lost their lives in the course of their work, both BBC and non-BBC.


Breathing will be inaugurated in 2005 and is part of the major public art programme associated with the Broadcasting House development.


The sculpture is called Breathing because it is inspired by the breath of life of the building and all who work in it.


John Smith, BBC Director of Property, Finance and Business Affairs, said: "I'm delighted that the BBC has been given the go-ahead for this exceptional piece of public art which I hope will become a landmark on the London skyline."


Breathing comprises a 10 metre high (33 feet) inverted glass spire, etched with a poem (wording to be decided), rising from the fifth floor roof of the new Broadcasting House buildings.


During the hours of darkness the cone will be lit so that it glows and at key times a fine beam of light will project from its base approximately 900 metres (3,000 feet) into the night sky (the limit set by the Civil Aviation Authority).


At street level the words of the poem will be accessible in text and Braille and there will also be a complementary audio work by Plensa and a relief version of the sculpture.


As well as a memorial to international news journalists, Breathing is also metaphor for sound and communication and takes its inspiration from the adjoining spire of the Grade I listed All Souls Church (which it appears to invert) and the radio mast on the roof of the Grade II* listed Broadcasting House.


The final form of Breathing is the result of a dialogue between the artist Jaume Plensa, the architect Sir Richard MacCormac and his team, and the curator of the Broadcasting House public art programme, art consultants Modus Operandi.


The proposed glass and steel construction of the sculpture has evolved through close collaboration between the artist, the architects and the engineers Whitby Bird & Partners.


The planning application was submitted by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners and received widespread support from the art world and unanimous approval from members of Westminster Council’s Planning and City Development Committee.


Notes to Editors


Jaume Plensa: biography

Jaume Plensa was born in Barcelona in 1955.


His work has been exhibited in some of the world's best contemporary art institutions including the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and Baltic in Gateshead.


He works in a wide range of media including drawing, sculpture, printmaking, opera scenery, video art, acoustic installations, text and light.


He is currently working on a major public art commission for the city of Chicago.


BBC public art initiative

The redevelopment of Broadcasting House is the flagship project in an ambitious development programme for BBC property across the UK, which also includes major new buildings at White City (London), Birmingham and Glasgow.


Public art is at the heart of the BBC's new buildings, continuing the BBC's long tradition as a patron of the arts.


Since 2002-2003 a number of artists have been invited to respond to the changing environment in and around Broadcasting House.


As well as temporary artworks created by Fiona Rae and William Furlong, videos have been made by Catherine Yass, Tom Gidley and Brian Catling, photographers Nick Danziger and John Riddy have documented people and architectural changes, and sculptor Rachel Whiteread created a plaster cast of Room 101, the inspiration for the notorious room in George Orwell's novel 1984.


The finished piece, Untitled (Room 101), is currently on show at the V&A.


The permanent commissions programme also includes World, a new artist-designed public space by Mark Pimlott, and a lighting commission for All Souls Church and Broadcasting House by Martin Richman and Tony Cooper.


Ron Haselden has also been commissioned for Close-up: a BBC People Archive.



Category : BBC
Date : 01.04.2004
Printable version

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