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A13 Artscape

A13 Artscape is one of the most ambitious and innovative public art projects in the UK. Its overall aim on completion is to improve the environment of the congested, hostile landscape of the A13 in Barking and Dagenham, by introducing artist designed landscapes, greener verges, cycle ways and footpaths, lighting schemes, refurbished subways and landmark features that punctuate the route and signify place.

Charlton Crescent Subway: Lighting, landscaping and fencing designed by Anu Patel. A13 Artscape 1997 - 2004 East London. Photo: Doug Atfield.

Charlton Crescent Subway
Lighting, landscaping and fencing designed by Anu Patel.
A13 Artscape 1997-2004. Photo: Doug Atfield.

When the project was originated in 1997, the Highways Agency, now Transport for London (TfL), was planning its own A13 Improvement scheme. The Agency fully embraced Artscape, combining the artists' proposals with its own objectives. This has enabled the project to be realised across the span of the A13 through Barking and Dagenham ñ from Movers Lane underpass at its western edge to Goresbrook interchange in the east. Artscape is the practical application of a concept commissioned from Tom de Paor (recently awarded Young Architect of the Year by Building Design and ACE) who conceived a scheme that 'orchestrates' the journeys, experience and coherence of the environment ñ 'Arterial'.

Lodge Avenue: Holding Pattern - Lightwork by artists Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone in collaboration with lead artist, Tom de Paor. A13 Artscape1997-2004.Photo: Doug Atfield.

Lodge Avenue: Holding Pattern - Lightwork by artists Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone in collaboration with Tom de Paor.
A13 Artscape1997-2004. Photo: Doug Atfield.

Tom de Paor describes Arterial as:

"a strategy for the margins and edges of the A13 trunk road corridor through the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham: to choreograph serial and individual objects in space and produce a unified temporal experience ñ a perpetual rhythmic form whose movements are all of a piece; the vehicle windscreen to perform as a moving proscenium within which the changing composition is constantly framed.

Arterial is a journey through interlinking, imaginative landscape on a grand scale, with ideas, themes and connections set up to fire your curiosity and make a whole new road experience".

Tom de Paor ñ lead artist/architect

With the support and input of public arts agency pArts, Tom positioned 'Arterial' within the wider framework of the ambitions for the area, resulting in A13 Artscape; It was subsequently awarded the largest ever public art lottery grant, £3.895million, from the Arts Council of England. With additional support from TfL, regeneration budgets and private investment, the project has generated an investment of some £11million in this industrial, urban environment. The scheme has maintained a focus on local improvements and resonance, aspiring to a long term policy for arts and design in the public realm. As a result, A13 Artscape is realised on and off the road ñ at junctions, roundabouts, subways and community areas affected by the road, including parks and local estates, which has created opportunities for other artists to collaborate with Tom and each other. The result has been a wide range of commissions, in disciplines ranging from landscaping and sculpture, through to light works, street furniture and new commissions in drama and dance.

Farr Avenue: Landscaping, lighting and tree planting designed by Jason Cornish and Phil Power. A13 Artscape 1997-2004, East London.Photo: Doug Atfield.

Farr Avenue
Landscaping, lighting and tree planting designed by Jason Cornish and Phil Power.
A13 Artscape 1997-2004.  Photo: Doug Atfield.

An extensive community programme led by East London Dance, Arc Theatre and Studio 3 Arts involved the creation of works including dance, seating and small-scale public arts in community locations. Many of these community projects led to public performances, such as 'Roadworks: A Diversion on the A13'; four dance performances by 160 members of the local community on an unopened stretch of the A13 in September 1999 which ëThe Independent' listed as one of the dance events of the year.

Goresbrook Interchange: Twin Cones designed by Thomas Heatherwick Studio. A13 Artscape 1997-2004. Photo: Doug Atfield.

Goresbrook Interchange
Twin Cones designed by Thomas Heatherwick Studio.
A13 Artscape 1997-2004. Photo: Doug Atfield.

A13 Artscape has involved extensive public consultation and community involvement, with views drawn via exhibition, open days, design workshops, residencies, site visits, house-to-house calls, mailing and public events. The results draw a range of views, many positive, some negative, but they certainly do not go unnoticed. The project has encouraged the council to actively ensure that high quality arts and design are included in its public spaces, routes and housing developments. In fact council officers have been directed not to ëcomplete' Artscape, but simply to move it onto other areas. This is reflected in the regeneration of Barking Town Centre (BTC), for which we are currently seeking expressions of interest from artists for a range of commissions in and around the centre for BTC Artscape.

Full up-to-date details of all commissions with images are on the A13 Artscape website www.lbbd.gov.uk/4-arts-culture/a13/a13artscape-menu.html

Further details: Tracey McNulty, Head of Arts Service, Barking and Dagenham Council; Tel: 020 8270 4846; Email: tracey.mcnulty@lbbd.gov.uk

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