Helen Marriage, Director, Artichoke Trust

Helen Marriage (big)

                                                (Above: Helen Marriage and Artichoke are redefining how public art events are staged. Image: ®MatthewAndrews2016.)

When Artichoke’s latest project went up in smoke, it was watched by audiences around the world.

London 1666, a 120 metre long representation of 17th Century London was designed by American artist David Best and involved months of learning and participation work with young people from several boroughs adjacent to the City of London. 

Floating on the Thames, tens of thousands of people in London watched as the sculpture was set alight on Sunday 4th September, and over a million watched the live stream of the burn, presented by Lauren Laverne.

London's Burning (600px)

Above: A historic model of London was a centrepiece of the London's Burning festival. Image: Matthew Andrews.

The event was the finale to London’s Burning, a festival commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire. Produced by Artichoke, it comprised a series of installations, performances and talks that gave a contemporary perspective on a significant moment in the country’s history.

Helen founded Artichoke Trust in 2005 with Nicky Webb, with the aim of working with artists to create extraordinary, large-scale events that appeal to the widest possible audience. Rejecting the belief that the arts should take place behind closed doors in theatres or galleries, instead it puts on shows in unusual places: in the streets, public spaces or in the countryside, bringing together trailblazing individuals from various fields to respond to and debate the potential of public space.

The London’s Burning festival follows other major projects such as bringing Royal de Luxe’s The Sultan’s Elephant’ to the capital and the Lumiere light festivals in Durham, London, and Derry~Londonderry.

Previous to Artichoke, Helen was Director of the Salisbury Festival for seven years, during which she transformed it from a local affair to what The Times described as a ‘miracle of modern British culture’. She went to Salisbury after creating the first Arts & Events programme for the developers of Canary Wharf in London and prior to that she was an Associate Director of the London International Festival of Theatre.  She began her working life at Artsadmin where she managed a variety of independent artists in the early 1980s.

In 2012, Helen was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design, a prestigious fellowship awarded to individuals working in the area of urban design and planning. Her appointment was an acknowledgement of the impact Artichoke has made on the way mass public art events are negotiated and staged.