Background & Big Art

The people of Sutton Manor had wanted some form of monument to the former colliery at the heart of their community ever since its closure in 1991.

City Growth Strategy
in 2003 - the 10-year private sector-led business plan for the economic growth of St.Helens - as a means to put St.Helens on the map and highlight its excellent location and connectivity, midway between Manchester and Liverpool.Meanwhile, the idea for a major public artwork on the site was specified in the original St.Helens


The chance to realise these twin aspirations came in 2006, when Sutton Manor was selected as one of only seven UK sites from more than 1,400 publicly nominated locations to be part of "The Big Art Project", an ambitious public art commissioning initiative from Channel 4, supported by Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts, and The Art Fund, the UK's leading independent art charity.




The Big Art Project was in essence an experiment examining the impact of art on the lives of ordinary people by directly involving the public in the creation of new public artworks by renowned artists.


It was almost certainly the UK's biggest ever budget arts-related TV series and Channel 4's exceptional commitment throughout its 3 year development is one of the many remarkable aspects of the story behind Dream


Sutton Manor was selected thanks to its rich cultural resonance as a former colliery and the passion and enthusiasm of the ex-miners who nominated it.


It was also chosen for its potential regeneration impact, given its prominent location beside the arterial M62 motorway at the heart of Northwest England, plus St.Helens Council's track record of successfully delivering ground-breaking initiatives.


Meanwhile the expert planning and management of the Sutton Manor community woodland environment by the Forestry Commission (the government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands) had in effect created an ideal potential backdrop for a landmark piece of public artwork.


Progress and outcomes across the seven chosen Big Art sites were documented over the following three years for the purposes of the four-part prime time TV series broadcast on Channel 4 in May 2009.