Plans for ‘largest ever art exhibition’ in front windows unveiled

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Museums want to create the UK’s “largest ever art exhibition” – taking place in people’s front windows.

The National Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland are asking people to make artwork “to counter the gloom of the pandemic”.

The opening theme, chosen by Sir Antony Gormley, the British sculptor famous for the Angel Of The North, will be animals.

Artworks – drawn, painted, sculpted, built or created with other materials – can be put up on front windows, front doors, balconies or gardens.

Artwork depicting animals, created by Iggy and Romey, is displayed in a window in Acton, west London, to launch The Great Big Art Exhibition (David Parry/PA)

The next theme of The Great Big Art Exhibition will be portraits, chosen by Sonia Boyce, and artworks can be made of anything.

Sally Shaw, director of Firstsite, the arts venue in Colchester, Essex, which came up with the idea, said: “The doors to our collections and galleries might be shut but our imaginations are forever open.

“Making, showing and experiencing art has created so much joy, connection and solace for many thousands of people.

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is taking part
Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei will select one of the themes (Aaron Chown/PA)

Organisers said “people can work as individuals or as a community, by joining up ‘virtually’ with their street, school, temple, church, shopping centre or football team to produce a memorable and exciting artwork”.

Artworks from the nation’s galleries and museums can be used as a template or for inspiration and will be put online.

Sir Antony told the PA news agency: “Everybody’s feeling a bit frustrated, a bit pent up …

“It’s clear that we can do it. The lovely expression of love and gratitude to the NHS that led to all those rainbows going up in windows, that’s a singular image that was copied by everybody to show solidarity.

“Now we have a chance to show the amazing diversity of talent that exists in every single one of us.”

He said that the “frustration” people feel now, “is this massive reservoir of energy”.

“Let’s do something positive with that energy and just change our streetscapes by turning all the windows that face the street into art galleries, so that walking down the road in a village or a town or city becomes this delightful kind of art gallery.”

– The Great Big Art Exhibition will run from Thursday January 28 until April. Information and an activity pack which can be downloaded is at

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