Bank of America Merrill Lynch London Public Arts Education Project

Sir Nicholas Serota Unveils Art Project at Southwark

Bank of America Merrill Lynch today unveiled the artwork resulting from the bank’s public arts education project in London.

Sir Nicholas Serota revealed the art installation that has been delivered in partnership with Graffiti Life and Tate.

The installation has been created as part of a unique arts and culture programme from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which is designed to connect individuals, organisations and cultures to help build stronger communities through mutual respect and understanding.

This unique initiative has engaged 60 young people from Southwark and Lambeth who are not in education, employment or training, to create the large public art installation which is now displayed in the borough of Southwark. The work is inspired by the vivid images in ‘Lichtenstein: A Retrospective’ at Tate Modern (21 February – 27 May 2013). Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the global sponsor of the exhibition.

The artwork is on display on an outside wall of The Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST) Sports Garden, a newly-developed community recreation area on Union Street, SE1. The garden was built to bring together members of the diverse local community through exercise and play, and to add cultural value to the environs. The artwork will remain in situ for at least six months.

The artwork was created at a series of workshops held at The Dye House, Nutbrook Studios, a collection of industrial buildings in Peckham which have been transformed into a vibrant artistic hub. Here, the young people were given the practical techniques needed to create a large-scale artwork and learned some of the technical skills which were used by Lichtenstein himself. The sessions were led by Graffiti Life, a collective of multi-disciplined urban and fine artists, graphic and interior designers, together with volunteers from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

A separate workshop at Tate Modern was delivered by the gallery’s in-house experts, and focused on arts learning. This included an introduction to the work of Lichtenstein, a brief history of Pop art, and a tour of the Tate Modern’s current Lichtenstein exhibition. To further extend the impact and inspiration of Lichtenstein’s work, participants’ families have been given free entry into the exhibition.

'London is famous throughout the world for being a bustling hub for the arts, and it’s an immensely important part of our economy', said Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. 'If we are to preserve that heritage, Londoners must have the opportunity to participate and engage in the exciting art and cultural opportunities that our city has to offer. This great scheme from Bank of America Merrill Lynch is playing an important role in developing the artistic skills and knowledge of our young people that are much needed if we are to ensure our own generation of artists and art lovers are to come through'.

'It is so encouraging to see the inspiration and creativity coming from the young people involved in developing the work', said Andrea Sullivan, head of Corporate Responsibility, Europe and Emerging Markets (ex-Asia) at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 'As a global financial institution, we believe that our role is to innovate solutions that foster economic growth and address social issues. This Southwark public art project is a great example of how working with our local community and partner organisations, we can connect capital with need and take the power of art out of a museum context into the public domain to be shared more widely'.

'This project is a great way to encourage interaction and dialogue between disparate groups within our diverse city', said Iona Thomas, project manager, The Graffiti Life Company. 'It has provided opportunities for young people to connect with, and make the most of, resources such as the Tate Modern, as well as enabling the wider public to see the potential and passion in some of our young people, who have found themselves struggling to get their first step on the career ladder for one reason or another. There is so much talent out there, but times are hard for young Londoners, and opportunities are few. It's great that Bank of America Merrill Lynch has recognised this, and created this opportunity for young people to showcase their talent, gain some skills and share their passion. The project is a testament to the value and power of public art'.

'Tate believes art is essential to the vitality of a community', said Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota. 'We are delighted to have Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s support for ‘Lichtenstein: A Retrospective’, which continues our longstanding relationship,and equally pleased to support this public art project that has introduced Lichtenstein and Tate Modern to a new group of young people'.

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