13 June, 2012
The People’s Monarch exhibition at Eastbourne’s Towner was a huge success over the Jubilee period with close to 16,000 visitors coming to see the artwork over the two-week duration of the show, travelling from all over the UK! The exhibition was even broadcast on Canadian national television, after an international network picked up on this unique contribution to Britain’s jubilee celebrations.
More than 5,500 BBC viewers and listeners in the South East helped to create the unique artwork to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Many submitted family portraits, photos of their ancestors, snaps of important occasions in their lives and of times that made them laugh.
People also used the opportunity to remember loved ones they had lost, sharing precious memories. The project really took on a life of its own, and people thought long and hard about the image they wanted to represent them and their family in the Jubilee artwork.
Eastbourne Borough Council Cabinet Member for Tourism, Cllr Neil Stanley said “It’s absolutely fantastic the response that The People’s Monarch received at Eastbourne’s Towner. It certainly is a magnificent piece of artwork that captures the lives of so many people for such a special occasion.”
The finished mosaic, commissioned by BBC South East, was 38 square metres – the size of a double decker bus. The People’s Monarch was unveiled on BBC South East on 25 May and people were able to view the giant artwork for free at Eastbourne’s Towner until 10 June.
Standing up close to the artwork, visitors saw a mass of touching, funny or inspirational photos – on stepping back 20 paces, it transformed to become a double portrait of the Queen. The final image chosen celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne, using an early image of the Queen shortly before her Coronation set against a more contemporary portrait. The artwork represented the Queen’s 60 years, honouring Her Majesty and the people who make Britain great – while also revealing how society and technology have developed over the last six decades.
Artist Helen Marshall, aided by computer art experts Polly Tiles, was responsible for creating the photo-mosaic from the thousands of images submitted. Helen Marshall is an expert at creating large scale photo-mosaics. She has a reputation for working alongside communities to build socially significant works of art, including the world’s largest photo-mosaic ‘The Big Picture’. Helen viewed every photograph and painstakingly manipulated these images to ensure they were artistically displayed within the final piece.
People travelled from far and wide to see the exhibition at Towner, many travelling distances of over 100 miles and staying in hotels in Eastbourne overnight. Visitors commented “I found the artwork incredibly moving” and “It has really brought people together”.
Those who missed The People’s Monarch at Towner can catch it at Turner Contemporary in Margate on 16 and 17 June. The artwork can also be viewed online, with zoom function to view in close detail, at Helen Marshall's website.
For more information about what else is going on at Towner go to their website.