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Art for the community hits the road in Barking

The UK's largest ever public-art project has been launched to improve the environment around one of the country's busiest and most unpleasant roads.

The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham's A13 Artscape project has as its goal 'to transform the industrial landscape of East London's busiest arterial road to give a new and positive focus to the borough while improving the environment for residents'. The project has an Arts Council award of £3.9 million towards its £7 million total cost.

Professor Christopher Frayling, a member of the Arts Council, said that this project would act as a pilot for similar, probably smaller projects, around the country, and that 'symbolically, it moves arts funding to totally new relationships with the community.' The project is co-ordinated by Geoff Wood of pArts who explained that, whereas it started simply as a way of improving the corridor of the A13 visually and environmentally, it expanded to include the open spaces either side of the corridor which the improvements would make usable once again.

The lead artist is Tom de Paor, who has designed the central spine of the project. He is working with Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnston to provide a 'light park' at the Lodge Avenue roundabout. There are proposals to project light images on to Ford's high-bay warehouse, on to Barking power station and on to a switching station. Artist Rayna Nadeem is working with residents on a scheme for Scrattons Farm Estate, and artist Phil Power is collaborating with architect Jason Cornish on improvements to the Farr Avenue shopping arcade.

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