Bowes Museum calls on Kickstarter campaign to fund giant Gavin Turk neon

By Culture24 Reporter | 02 January 2014

Gavin Turk's huge neon sculpture will be added to the front of Durham's Bowes Museum if a Kickstarter campaign succeeds

A giant neon sculpture by Gavin Turk, representing the exact number of people on Earth, will be manufactured for the 19th century French façade of the Bowes Museum if a Kickstarter campaign to raise £6,000 succeeds.

Seven billion two hundred and one million nine hundred and sixty-four thousand two hundred and thirty-eight, named after the planet’s population at 6pm on the opening evening of Turk’s solo exhibition on January 25, will be visible for miles around. Set within a darkened gallery, the neons flanking the show include an egg, a banana, a lobster, a seeing eye and a mysterious door representing a realm to infinite possibilities or nothingness.

“It is the largest neon I’ve ever made,” says Turk, a Young British Artist whose pieces, made between 1995 and 2013, will be curated by former Turner Prize judge Greville Worthington.

“It certainly is a challenge. The building is very articulate. It moves around – it has a lot of details on it.

“In order for a number to show up and work on that scale I needed to make quite a big-scale piece.”

Supporters can pledge as little as £1 to the illuminating mock-up, although the rewards on offer are of escalating impressiveness. A £3 donation earns a limited edition exhibition poster, while anyone lucky enough to be able to offer more than £1,000 – an amount gifted by one visitor so far – will receive a triple print of Pop, Turk’s subversion of Sid Vicious and Elvis Presley as seen by Andy Warhol.

“We’d love to make this happen,” the museum says in its appeal.

“We have few risks to overcome other than the logistics of installing the very special and large neon on the front of our building.

“We have risk-assessed the installation, and the manufacturers are aware of the conditions the neon will face on the front of our museum for three months in blustery conditions in north-east England.

“We want to invite visitors to walk through the Museum’s door into Gavin Turk’s enchanting realms of the imagination and beyond.”

The Bowes has gained a reputation for quirky and glamorous exhibitions during recent years, welcoming Damien Hirst prints, a display of Vivienne Westwood shoes, a classy cross-section of hats by milliner Stephen Jones and bronzes by uncompromising sculptor Keith Coventry. More than £2,000 has been raised towards the campaign so far.

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