POPULAR TODAY ART

gordon young: the comedy carpet, blackpool
oct 11, 2011
gordon young: the comedy carpet, blackpool


image: blackpool council

the ‘comedy carpet‘ by artist gordon young in collaboration with why not associates, was officially opened in blackpool today.
300 slabs of granite cover around 2200m2 making it one of the largest pieces of public art ever commissioned in the UK.

-
following text from blackpool council

created as part of the major regeneration of the promenade, the comedy carpet was commissioned
by blackpool council, with part of a £4m grant from cabe’s seachange programme. catchphrases,
jokes and songs from more than a 1000 comedians are now immortalised in concrete and granite
artwork which is situated at the foot of  blackpool tower.

artist gordon young has been working in the public realm for over 20 years creating pieces
that mine rich seams of social history, engage communities and extend the relationships between
art and architecture. at the heart of all gordon’s young’s work is language – words that entice,
fascinate and on the comedy carpet, amuse.  titter ye not, just like that, oooo-er matron, nudge, nudge
wink, wink, oh betty! suit you sir, yeah but no but, what’s on the stick vic? , in the comedy carpet young
has created a giant ‘giggle map’ immortalising the UK’s favourite comedians and comic writers from
the hey day of music hall to 21st century stand up.

overview of the comedy carpet – view a detailed map of the artwork here


image: blackpool council


image: blackpool council

inspiration
when he was asked to make a work for the new headland young was immediately inspired
by the inside of blackpool tower – the fantasy viennese ballroom, the arabesque circus,
the art nouveau foyers – and wanted to bring this wonderful ‘over-the-top ness’ out of doors.
the new art work also had to reflect to the scale and quality of the new headland on which it
was installed. but why comedy? and why a carpet?

‘blackpool occupies a unique and important place in the social history of britain,’
says young ‘comedy in all its guises is a big part of who we are; it has its own history
and a very important place in that history is blackpool. ‘

‘I’d been looking at photographs of stars and the blackpool tower was a recurring backdrop to
the photos – eric and ernie in deck chairs, ken dodd, les dawson, peter kay and more.
it soon became obvious that blackpool had been a magnetic chuckle point for the nation,’
he adds.

‘I also wanted to create something built with really the high craft standards seen in blackpool’s
historic architecture – the winter gardens, library and of course the fabulous tower. 
so I thought, a quality carpet that shows how blackpool can still do posh.’

the comedy carpet features comedians from music hall to the current day the majority of whom
have performed in blackpool. it both represents those that have performed in the town,
including foreign greats like mae west, danny kaye and w.c fields as well as the very few british stars
who were unfortunate enough not to tread its boards such as peter cook and spike milligan.

a collaborative artist, young was inspired and supported in researching the content for the carpet
by blackpool-based comedy expert, barry band and historian and writer graham mccann,
and on the typography and layout by leading graphic designer andy altmann of why not associates.


section of the ‘carpet’ being cleaned
image: bbc


image: bbc


image: bbc



comedian ken dodd at the opening of the comedy carpet
image: blackpool council



gordon young selects letters for a part of the comedy carpet
image: comedy carpet

production
five years in the making: one of the most complex pieces of public art ever commissioned
at first sight, the comedy carpet looks as if the text is painted, but in fact each of the 160,000+ letters
has been individually cut from 30mm solid granite or cobalt blue concrete, arranged into over
300 slabs and then cast into high quality, gleaming white concrete panels. the letters range in size
from a few centimetres to over a metre so viewers can enjoy it both close up and from the glass
viewing platform in the blackpool tower eye.

the scale and incredibly complex nature of the work meant that comedy carpet team even had to
set up its own bespoke studio to make the artwork. after several months of research with input
from chemists and engineers the comedy carpet team devised new techniques and recipes
for production including a special mix to produce the hardest and whitest of concrete and the
perfect blue that won’t fade. the process of making each of the 320 slabs involved many complex
stages from cutting, sorting, fettling, and laying out each of the letters, to a 3-stage casting process,
curing, trimming, grinding and polishing. and that’s before it was transported to blackpool for
the installation on the headland.



image: comedy carpet

comments policy
LOG IN VIA
login with designboom
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

product library