Gratitude – a vibrant public art installation to honour NHS staff and key workers for their dedication during the pandemic – launches its UK tour in Birmingham on August 20. With creative ambassador Dame Zandra Rhodes at the helm, it showcases more than 50 sculptures designed by renowned international designers and local artists.
The beautifully painted human form statues that make up Gratitude will be making their way to Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and London this summer, to serve as a colourful way to express the country’s thanks. With the backing of global art producer Wild in Art, it will officially launch on Friday August 20 in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square where it will stand tall for ten days.
Devised by the team behind the hugely successful Birmingham trails The Big Hoot 2015 and The Big Sleuth 2017, and Manchester’s award-winning Bee in the City 2018, the event aims to connect people and communities, artists and businesses, inviting people to come together to show their appreciation.
The free-to-visit exhibition features 51 bright and bold sculptures, each one designed by individual artists from different regions, and curated in partnership with creative ambassador Dame Zandra Rhodes. Enclosed by mirrors on two sides, Gratitude creates infinite reflections of the stunning artwork and ensures visitors become part of the exhibition too, creating an immersive experience and reflecting the contributions everyone has made over the last 18 months.
The artworks on display are from multi-talented artists and designers from across the country including: Scottish fashion designer Pam Hogg, with her sculpture Courage; renowned sculptural artist Andrew Logan with his Spiral Stardust; and leading ceramic artist Kate Malone with Life Force.
Other highly acclaimed British artists include Cardiff-based illustrator Matt Joyce with his design The Joy of Pets, which celebrates the animals that have kept us company during the pandemic; internationally-acclaimed Manchester street mural duo Nomad Clan with their sculpture Digital Conscience; and London artist Harkiran Kalsi with I Am Thankful For… .
Birmingham-based artists taking a starring roll include Edward Luke Thrush with his design Super Stars; Jessica Perrin with her We Can Be Heroes sculpture; MrASingh with his Community Strength design; Lucky Pablo with Lockdown Pastimes; Nisha Grover’s The Love Being.
Charlie Langhorne, managing director and co-founder of Wild in Art, explains: “Gratitude is set to be a beautiful and striking tribute which celebrates the incredible courage and dedication of the UK’s NHS staff and all key workers, and supports the vital work of NHS Charities Together. We are delighted to be launching our tour in Birmingham, after months of hard work from artists across the UK. They have dedicated their time and creativity to help us produce an installation that reflects our endless Gratitude for the care and kindness that all key workers have provided.”
Alongside the sculptures, the exhibition features real-life stories and audio poems about key workers recorded by a host of well-known voices from across the UK, such as Hugh Bonneville, Norman Cook, Sarah Parish, Adil Ray, Christopher Eccleston, John Thomson, Shobna Gulati and KT Tunstall. Visitors will be able to listen to tributes from doctors and staff at Birmingham Women’s Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital, a light-hearted story about a dedicated teacher striving to keep her pupils happy and a railway worker who has gone over and above his duties to keep people safe on their daily commutes, via the Gratitude app and website.
Good Morning Britain presenter and actor Adil Ray OBE said: “I’m delighted that Gratitude is launching in my home city of Birmingham and I am incredibly honoured to be voicing one of the stories. The pandemic has affected us all in so many different ways, so it’s wonderful to be working on such a creative and thought-provoking installation, that we can all contribute to and experience.”
Nathan Wallis, chief of staff at Wesleyan, location sponsor for Gratitude Birmingham, added: “We’re really excited to be a part of this fantastic initiative, which is going to celebrate our key workers in such a creative way. By bringing art to the streets of our home city of Birmingham, it will enable thousands of people to enjoy fantastic tributes to the NHS.”
To ensure visitors enjoy plenty of time and space, there will be dedicated time slots available which can be booked online now at www.thisisgratitude.co.uk. Once the installation has finished its UK tour, the sculptures will be auctioned off with proceeds going to NHS Charities Together which supports hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental healthcare providers and vital partnerships.
Birmingham: Chamberlain Square, Paradise Birmingham – August 20-30
Manchester: Location to be announced – September 3-12
Edinburgh: Location to be announced – September 17-26
London: Location to be announced – October 1-10