The BT Artbox project will see over 40 British and international artists creating replicas of the original K6 telephone kiosk, which was introduced in 1936 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V, in their own style. These will be displayed throughout London in areas including Royal Parks, the streets of Soho and Camden, in the London Aquarium, and outside Big Ben throughout June and July.
Malcolm Garrett – only appointed to the role of project patron the day before Design Week speaks to him – sees the initiative as a brilliant celebration of Britishness and iconic design.
He says, ‘It’s a great project and its design credentials, centred around the classic iconographic telephone box is really exciting.’
He adds, ‘For me the most important aspect is working across a range of all the designs and helping BT curate the collection. If I get to contribute a design that’ll be the icing on the cake.’
The project is being run in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, which will be hosting a VIP gala auction of the ArtBoxes after the exhibition to raise money for Child Line, marking the charity’s 25th anniversary.
Childline founder Esther Rantzen and director of the National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne are the other patrons, while designers and artists already signed up include Keith Tyson; Scottish sculptor and installation artist David Mach; Lauren O’Farrell, designer and Founder of Stich, and fashion designers Giles Deacon and Zandra Rhodes. The project is now seeking more designers and artists to create their own Artbox designs.
Nairne says, ‘ The Gilbert Scott telephone box is a truly iconic British design, and I’m looking forwards to seeing how artists and designers transform the replica boxes into works of art on London’s streets.’
Mach adds, ‘It’s great to be involved with the ArtBox Exhibition. I get to kill more than two birds with one stone…work with a great charity (hopefully make money for it) and a classic British design. I love all things Gilbert Scott. Anything that encourages us to get his design back on our streets does it for me.’
The BT ArtBoxes will be on display in high-profile locations around London form June 18 – July 16 before being auctioned off at the National Portrait Gallery on July 18. Artists and creatives who are interested in designing an ArtBox should go visit http://btartbox.com for more information about how to get involved.