AAJ Press
Art Projects, Commissions, Commissions & Projects, Installation, Sculpture

The Big 4. Hannah Gourlay: Time to Breathe

Hannah Gourlay’s Time to Breathe was designed to create a brief moment of calm for passersby. Her design for the 50-foot-high metal ‘4’ outside Channel 4’s Horseferry Road headquarters in London involved covering each section of the ‘4’ with fabric and sees the 4 softly breathe, inhaling and exhaling slowly. At night it is lit from within to create a gentle heartbeat glow that lightens and darkens at the same pace.

The Big 4 was designed by Freestate and constructed in 2007 to affirm Channel 4’s commitment to the creative community, celebrating both the Channel’s 25th anniversary year and the launch of the Big Art Project series on public art commissions. The installation mirrors the Channel’s on-air identity, with metal bars forming the logo only when viewed from a particular angle.

Since it’s inception a variety of both internationally renowned and emerging artists have created ‘skins’ for the 4. The project has since evolved into a regular competition for art and design students to create interesting temporary designs to entertain passers-by, visitors and Channel 4 staff.

Hannah Gourlay's Big 4

Previous works have included photographer Nick Knight’s, Heart, with sound design by Nick Ryan, which involved biconvex screens carrying images of skin and musculature, giving the impression that the structure was gently breathing as you moved around it.

Mark Titchner’s work, Find the World in Yours, enabled the public to record their own thoughts and feelings about the media on video in a booth within the structure itself, the edited footage played back on monitors mounted up on the 4.

The Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui made use of newspaper printing plates, suggesting the ephemerality of the vast quantity of information we have to process and our longing for time to review and digest.

Shelter, by Stephanie Imbeau, softened the structure by covering it with umbrellas to create an organic form representing the diverse population of London and the notion of ‘the giving of second life’.

Image: Hannah Gourlay’s Big 4. Photo by Dave King



About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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