A public art project attached to the redevelopment of Digbeth Coach Station will be unveiled tonight with a spectacular laser show.
It’s taken two years, 330 steel haunches, a public consultation and various designers, planners, students, architects, artists and engineers to complete the three commissions tied in to the £15million overhaul of the new-look depot.
The Irish Quarter Visual Artwork is a 10.7m x 7.4m welcome board hung high outside the station carrying the Gaelic saying Cead Mile Failte, which translates as A Hundred Thousand Welcomes.
Freelance artist Dave Sherry, originally from Ireland, came up with the idea for the text and canvass, set to be illuminated at the launch, as a direct reference to Digbeth’s Irish community and influence.
The Boundary is a meticulously constructed 181m-long red perimeter steel fence.
Its individually erected girders illustrate the flow of Midland Red buses and passengers and also the Avery weighbridges formerly located on the site.
The final piece in the jigsaw is a short film charting the history of the design process which A-level students from Aston compiled in their spare time as part of the Silver Arts Award.
National Express and Arts Council England joint-funded the artwork project which was project managed by Claire Farrell from EC Arts.
Stuart Parker, NE’s director of property, said: “It’s a fantastic project that’s engaged the city council, ourselves as a business, the arts community and the local community.
“It makes the local community feel part of the development.”
The scheme was also supported by Birmingham City Council, Aston Manor Transport Museum, Birmingham Irish Community Forum, Glenn Howells Architects, Ikon Gallery, Central Signs and C Spencer Ltd.
Mr Sherry competed alongside other established artists in securing the visual artwork contract and then spent months thinking of ideas.
“They were becoming more and more crowded and complicated,” he said. “So I started to piece things together and thought about the Gaelic saying in a really large text.
“I realised it would give this piece a real interesting and unique element.”
Artists Rob Colbourne and Stuart Mugridge worked together on the Boundary commission. Mr Colbourne said: “We talked to a lot of people about the history of the site, absorbed all the information and produced, to the best of our abilities, something we thought the place deserved.”
Representatives from each of the contributing agencies will watch the big screen premiere of the short film at the Electric Cinema before boarding a 1964 Midland Red S17 bus to take them to the station for the official unveiling of the arts project.
The coach station opens for business on Monday, December 14, but its official launch is on Friday, December 18.