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The Golden Smile: Blackpool rolls out Comedy Carpet

A £4 million Comedy Carpet, featuring gags, catchphrases, and the names of more than 1,000 comedians has been completed in front of Blackpool Tower.

The 2,200m² concrete artwork is one of the largest pieces of public art ever commissioned in the UK is aprt of the larger Festival Headland overhaul and was funded through CABE’s SeaChange programme.

Built with 235 cast panels, the piece by public realm artist Gordon Young includes more than 160,000 letters cut from red and black granite and ‘specially created cobalt blue concrete’, ranging in size from just a few centimetres to over a metre..

According to a spokeswoman, Young was inspired by Viennese Ballroom, Arabesque Circus and Art Nouveau foyers inside Blackpool Tower the stunning interior of the tower.

She said: ‘While typographically the work references the palette and style of traditional music hall Play bills, its myriad jokes, catchphrases, sketches and lyrics range from the hey day of Variety to 21st century stand up.’   

Blackpool's Comedy Carpet - under construction

Blackpool’s Comedy Carpet - under construction

Factfile

  • The Comedy Carpet was commissioned by Blackpool Council as part of the multi-million pound regeneration of the sea front including vital sea defence works. It took five years from conception to installation.
  • The entire length of the famous Promenade has been re-landscaped and three new headlands built. Young had been working with landscape architects LDA on the plans for the development of the sea front and was approached to create a work for a new central ‘entertainment headland’ in front of the Blackpool Tower.
  • Each letter is 30mm-deep, solid granite cast into high quality concrete panels.
  • The Comedy Carpet team devised new techniques and recipes for production including a special mix to produce the hardest and whitest of concrete and the perfect, never-fading blue.
  • Black and red granite were sourced for the letters from India.
  • The process of making each of the 320 slabs involved a range of complex stages from cutting, sorting, fettling, and laying out each of the letters, to a 3 stage casting process, curing, trimming, grinding and polishing.  Once laid in position on the headland a long process of grinding and polishing was undertaken before the final sealing.
  • The work will last for over 100 years.

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