Born in Carlisle, Gordon studied in Coventry in the 1970s under Terry Atkinson (as Art & Language came to prominence) and later at the Royal College of Art in London. He was curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Director of the Welsh Sculpture Trust before becoming a full-time artist.
Gordon has been working in the public realm for over 20 years creating works that mine rich seams of social history, engage communities and extend the relationships between art and architecture. He intervenes on the day to day surfaces of places - pavements, benches, walls and steps, and transforms them into evocative and provocative spaces. At the heart of his work is language - words that
give form and shape to the artwork and that entice, fascinate and amuse the viewer. He is particularly drawn to vernacular typography and to the physicality of text out of doors.
Among his many award winning pieces are: Listening Stones (GCHQ); Walk of Art (Yorkshire Sculpture Park); Typographical Trees Crawley Library, The Cursing Stone, (Carlisle), Wall of Wishes (Brunel Academy, Bristol), Climbing Towers (Blackpool) and the Eric Morecambe memorial area, (Morecambe). The Comedy Carpet has been five years in the making, and in both its scale and complexity is his most ambitious work to date. Gordon takes an open, collaborative approach to each project. For him the roller coaster ride of creating the work and the unpredictable journey with fellow travellers brings the work to life and takes it in new directions.
"The combinations for journeys differ, but lots of important funny bits make for good and memorable travels. Graphic designers, photographers, architects, landscape architects, engineers, chemists, builders, sculptors, knitters, planners, rock climbers, teachers, historians, writers, comedians, filmmakers, boxers – and the list goes on. These confections of folk and skills and talents really interest me and give direction to different journeys."
WHY NOT ASSOCIATES
On leaving the Royal College of Art in 1987 fellow graduates Andy Altmann, David Ellis and Howard Greenhalgh formed the multi disciplinary design group – Why Not Associates.
Since that foundation the company has worked on projects ranging from exhibition design to postage stamps via advertising, publishing, television titles, commercials, corporate identity and public art. Their clients include the Royal Academy of Arts, BMW, Malcolm Mcclaren, Pompidou Centre, Royal Mail, Nike, Paul Smith, Virgin Records, BBC, Channel 4 and the Tate Modern. The one key element that binds all the projects together is their love of experimental typography.
Over the past ten years, Why Not Associates and in particular Andy Altmann, have worked on many of Gordon Young’s public art projects involving typography, including the Cursing Stone in Carlisle, A Flock of Words in Morecambe, the Road to The Isles in Auchterarder and the Blackpool Climbing Towers. Each of these projects has offered new ways of working and experimentation with scale and materials – thus extending the boundaries of public art and typography.
Russ hails from Scunthorpe and is now based in Newcastle. His nine years as a monumental mason and letter cutter have been the spring board that launched him into a world of words and objects. This experience, coupled with many years of drama and theatre productions in his youth followed by an arts education have combined to produce a fascination for the extraordinary behind the everyday.
Russ has been working with Gordon for the past 18 years helping him to realise many of his commissions from carving to casting and installation.
Building on his experience of working on some of Gordon’s major public art projects (The Flock of Words, Road to the Isles and the Blackpool Climbing Towers) Russ’ role was to manage the production and installation of the Comedy Carpet.
Andy has over 25 years experience working in the construction industry. After successfully masterminding (with Russ) the ambitious operation of setting up a bespoke production facility in Hull from scratch in less than 4 months, he has managed the 10 strong production team to cut and cast over 160,000 letters in 2,200m2 of concrete panels.
JULIET DEAN of PACE
Juliet is a curator and arts project manager and runs her own public arts agency P.A.C.E. (Public Art Commissions & Exhibitions) based in Edinburgh. Over the past 16 years, she has worked on a diverse range of public arts projects from schools and hospitals, to flood prevention schemes, artist designed bridges, dance centres and housing associations.
Juliet and Gordon have worked together on many commissions over the past 15 years (Loudoun Hall, Burns Steps Ayr, Citadel, Ayr, Community School Of Auchterarder) and have built up a strong working relationship.
Juliet’s role was to manage the overall project from concept to completion including the financial management of this £2.6m project.