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OPPORTUNITY: Barbican Artwork Commission

OPPORTUNITY: Barbican Artwork Commission Concert Hall Wall, The Barbican © Emil Charlaff

Concert Hall Wall, The Barbican © Emil Charlaff

29 November 2016
by Monique Ricketts

The Barbican has announced an open call for artists, collectives and designers across all disciplines to create a projected artwork that responds to the brief: “What’s going on here, then?” The commission will be installed in the iconic building’s foyer and there is a £2,500 fee for successful applicants. The initiative, part of a five-year partnership with audio visual company Christie, will see the works installed in the public areas of the complex from January – May 2017.

This commission forms part of an ongoing foyer commission programme, which extends the Barbican’s ambitious, international artistic programme beyond the walls of their venues and into public spaces, giving their visitors opportunities to experience outstanding art for free. Whether that be gallery-goers, freelancers typing away on laptops, parents pushing sleeping babies, excited pre-theatre and concert crowds, tourists enthusiastically taking snapshots or a class of children on a school trip to see the latest commission in The Curve. They all meet, rest and enjoy these versatile spaces, and they amongst many others will form the audience for your work.

Broad, dynamic and imaginative responses to What’s going on here, then? are encouraged. Thematically your work can touch on any area you wish, however you might want to consider what your desired audience experience is. What thoughts and discussions will the audience be encouraged to have upon encountering your work?

Recent projects on the concert hall wall include Numina by artist Zarah Hussain, a large sculptural work using Islamic geometry as a departure point for its mesmerising patterns. And let’s take a walk, an interactive audio experience created by theatre makers non zero one, where visitors are asked to pick one of six people from different walks of life to be their virtual guides around the Barbican.  

Please note: The wall is a plain white painted portrait wall approximately (W)3.6m x (H)6.4m with an aspect ratio of 9:16. The projection will be powered by a state of the art Christie Digital Laser Phosphorus projector.

How to Apply

  • To enter, complete the form directly on the Barbian website with information about your proposal – you can also upload supplementary imagery with your application. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 4 January 2017 at 12pm.
  • There is a commissioning fee of £2,500 to be awarded to the winning entry. Please note this fee is fixed whether you enter as an individual or as a collective.

Additionally, the Barbican will provide the following provision in kind:

  • Christie Digital Projector allocated specifically for this location with a portrait lens
  • Coolux Media Management Server to play/schedule content
  • Technician support during installation and throughout for trouble-shooting
  • Interpretation / labels
  • Customer service support and any necessary training for invigilation
  • Photography of work in situ.


  • Shortlisted competition entries will be judged by a panel comprising: Alona Pardo, Curator, Barbican; James Belso, Christie, a global leader in visual and audio solutions; Artist Zarah Hussain; and Freire Barnes, Art & Design Editor, Culture Trip

The following criteria will be used to assess entries:

  • Overall quality and impact of the work
  • The response to the brief and site
  • The work’s potential to engage the diverse audiences that visit the Barbican daily

The winning works installed in the public areas of the complex from January – May 2017

For more information on the commission and how to apply please visit the Barbican website here




On the web


The Barbican