London 1666

A burning sculpture to commemorate the Great Fire of London (Artichoke)

By The Space

Young people looking at the sculpture on the Thames (2016) by Matthew AndrewsThe Space

Artichoke produces large-scale public arts event, working with artists to reimagine the world we live in.

In 2016, the company produced a week-long festival to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, "London’s Burning".

Sculpture on the Thames with the London Eye in the background (2016) by Matthew AndrewsThe Space

London’s Burning was supported by City of London Corporation, an award from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence programme, by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and a raft of sponsors and funders. It was part of Great Fire 350, a City-wide season of cultural events marking this anniversary.

Great Fire from across the River Thames (2016) by Matthew AndrewsThe Space

It culminated with "London 1666", an artwork created by American artist David Best: a 120m-long replica of the 17th-century London skyline fixed on a barge that was set alight on the Thames. The impressive structure was built with a major learning and participation programme that engaged hundreds of young Londoners over the course of several months.

Great Fire Image from 350th Anniversary Burn, with smoke cloud (2016) by Matthew AndrewsThe Space

In all its work, Artichoke’s aim is to make art accessible to the widest possible audience and in this case, digital was the means of doing that.

Hugh Myddleton Primary School - Workshop (2016) by Em FitzgeraldThe Space

With the Space commission, as well as simply capturing the ‘burn’, Artichoke were able to reimagine the experience for digital viewers.

Woman and Man working on the Sculptures (2016) by Oliver RudkinThe Space

Artichoke and its production partners challenged themselves to see how they could make the experience different – and perhaps even better – for online audiences.

David Best with young people working on creating sculpture (2016) by Matthew AndrewsThe Space

The team planned both the digital content they needed ahead of the event for marketing and for the livestream itself, which took the shape of a magazine programme with interviews, short films and live coverage of the burn.

Stories Behind the Build (2016) by ArtichokeThe Space

This chance to share the story around "London 1666" through the livestream was particularly exciting for Artichoke and gave audiences insight into those who made the project happen.

Story of the Build (2016) by ArtichokeThe Space

The company’s director Helen Marriage said: “It offered an interesting way to communicate the depth of the project and its context. That’s what we never usually get to do – we see the amazing impact that our projects have on people during their creation but the audience only ever experience the finished work. The live stream gave us that real opportunity.”

Timelapse from the docks (2016) by ArtichokeThe Space

“I am focused very much on the live event, but this certainly changed my mind – digital can give a deep and profound experience to audiences. I still want people to come to the live event but realise that if they can’t or want more, online has something to offer.”

The Burn Uncut (2016) by ArtichokeThe Space

The project had a remarkable and enormous international reach and overall, with audiences of 3.8m viewing the burn and the wider content created around London 1666 reaching 6.7 million.

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