The Comedy Carpet

Submitted by Andrew Altmann

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Client: Blackpool Council

Location: Blackpool, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2011

Artwork budget: $3,500,000

Project Team

Artist

Gordon Young

Industry Resource

Andrew Altmann, Graphic Designer

Why Not Associates

Industry Resource

Andy Sawyer

Sawyer Works

Industry Resource

Rachel Dickens

Hark Projects

Overview

A work of art by Gordon Young designed in collaboration with Why Not Associates.

Sited in front of the iconic Blackpool Tower, the Comedy Carpet is a public artwork that celebrates British comedy on an extraordinary scale. Referring to the work of more than 1,000 comedians and comedy writers, the carpet gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present. The 2,200m2 work of art contains over 160,000 granite letters embedded into concrete, pushing the boundaries of public art and typography to their limits.

Goals

Over 160,000 granite letters were cut and cast into high quality concrete panels at a factory especially set up for the project. The letterforms vary in size from a few centimetres to over a metre high.  The design is inspired by the location, with the mass tourism to Blackpool came the comedians, with each generation came the top acts, the town lives and breathes laughter. The work includes the material of over 500 comedians and writers, the research involved collaborations with national and local social historians and the consents, blessings and involvement of many of the acts. The design was rooted in the history of theatre posters, it is a monumental celebration and homage to the British sense of humour.

Process

This work of art is a collaboration between artist Gordon Young and graphic designers Why Not Associates. Together they both researched the content as well as designing the layout. Due to the complexity and scale of the work no single company was able to manufacture the work in its entirety.  It was technically very challenging chemists and engineers were involved from an early stage. The project demanded the development of new casting and manufacturing techniques.