March sees the launch of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, a celebration of British creative talent. But what exactly is it?
When former UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a country-wide celebration of British creativity, due to take place this year, it was ironically branded “The Festival of Brexit” by critics.
But now the festival has a real brand name – UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK – and is due to take place from March 1 to October 22.
According to tourist authority Visit Britain, the event is “designed to reach millions and bring people together”. Concretely, it features ten different projects, all anchored in different parts of the UK.
It all kicks off in Paisley, Scotland, with a project called About Us, which aims to capture “13.8 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to the present day, using innovative projection mapping technology combined with poetry, music and science”. Other locations for this sound and light spectacular include Queen Victoria Square, Hull and – I kid you not – “in front of the town hall, Luton”.
Scotland features again in the second project, Dandelion, which “reimagines the harvest festival for the 21st century”, with alternative farms, free music events and plant giveaways.
Another interesting experience is Our Place In Space, which sets out to put our place in the universe in perspective by creating a scale version of the solar system across sculpture trails in Northern Ireland and Cambridge.
It’s designed by artist Oliver Jeffers (right), who’s also behind a series of best-selling and rather magical books for children.
Meanwhile, the See Monster project (and terrible pun) transforms a decommissioned North Sea offshore oil platform into “an immersive public art installation and celebration of British weather” (my italics).
There’s also the Tour de Moon, “a festival of nightlife and countercultures”, inspired by the moon, travelling in a convoy around England. See details of all ten projects here.
While it all sounds a little eccentric, and therefore endearingly British, the press and taxpayers have remained somewhat sceptical about its relevance. Having said that, it’s providing work for many creative industry talents, notably Sea Design, which created the festival’s identity.
Michael Green, the event’s Chief Creative Officer, said: “Hundreds of creatives from across science, technology, engineering, arts and maths are creating extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime events and online experiences for millions in the UK’s biggest and most ambitious public creative programme to date.”
So perhaps we should put irony aside for a while and see what comes out of the box.