Gemma Cairney to host new Sky Arts series Landmark

Monday 17 May 2021
Benjamin Zephaniah, Charlotte Church and Russell Tovey also set to appear as guest judges in the nationwide search for a new UK landmark

Broadcaster, DJ and author Gemma Cairney will delve into the purpose and power of public art as she joins Sky Arts on a mission to create the UK’s next major landmark. She’ll be joined along the way by two expert judges – curator Clare Lilley and visual artist Hetain Patel – as well as six famous faces, all of them ready to root out the best artistic talent in the region or nation they call home.

Appearing in the series are:

  • Mark Radcliffe: Broadcaster, musician and writer representing the North of England
  • Benjamin Zephaniah: Writer and poet representing the Midlands
  • Russell Tovey: Actor representing the South of England
  • Denise Mina: Crime writer and playwright representing Scotland
  • Charlotte Church: Singer-songwriter representing Wales
  • Michelle Fairley: Game of Thrones actress representing Northern Ireland

Now filming across the country, Sky Arts’ bold new series produced by Primal Media (Jerk, Home Free), will see artists from Glasgow to Guildford create a new wave of Great British public art. Six heats will take place across the UK, each spotlighting three artists who will compete to create local landmarks for their home region.

Working across mediums varying from ceramics and bronze to LEDs and inflatables, the artists will build, weld and sculpt under the watchful eyes of two expert judges, Clare and Hetain, as well as the celebrity guest judge representing their region or nation. The pressure is on.

At the end of each heat, the landmarks will be unveiled to the local community, who will join the judges to deliberate on which piece best sums up their area. The winning artists will gain a coveted place in the final where they will pitch for a national landmark which one of them will be commissioned to create. The final landmark will be on display in Coventry, UK City of Culture for 2021.

Sky Arts will invest £700,000 in public art over the course of the series, with £250,000 dedicated to the final piece. This covers materials, artist fees and maintaining the regional and national landmarks for years to come.

Gemma Cairney commented:

“I’ve never worked on a TV programme that I’ve learnt so much in the process of making! I’ve learnt from the artists, the judges and the art itself. Travelling the UK uncovering the different practices and sentiments behind artists wanting to make work for the public has been a fascinating and emotional lesson in the big conversations so many of us seem to want to have after a time where we’ve been confined to our homes and echo chambers.”

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment, commented:

“The art we have in our public spaces is always the subject of fierce debate and with Landmark we aim to bring artists together with their communities to create beautiful work that will bring joy to their local places. We are thrilled to be working with some incredibly talented artists, judges and guest judges and to be partnering with Coventry City of Culture who’ll be providing a home for a spectacular final piece.”

Barbara Lee, Commissioning Editor for Sky, commented:

“Public art is a powerful tool for all of us as an expression of our local identities and pride in our hometowns. It also allows us to bring to life the things that really matter to us. Landmark follows a brilliant cohort of artists as they tackle exactly this, creating public artworks which are both aesthetically striking and hold real cultural value. We can’t wait for you to see what they’ve come up with!"

Landmark was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content for Sky UK and Ireland and Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment. The Commissioning Editor for Sky is Barbara Lee. The Executive Producer for Primal Media is Sadia Butt.

Landmark will air weekly from 8pm on Monday 6th September on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11) and streaming service NOW.

Notes to Editors

Landmark is being filmed in accordance with Covid-19 filming protocols.

For more information, please contact:
07815 646886

Episode order:

  • 6th September: North of England heat
  • 13th September: South of England heat
  • 20th September: Midlands heat
  • 27th September: Wales heat
  • 4th October: Northern Ireland heat
  • 11th October: Scotland heat
  • 18th October: The Final

About Gemma Cairney

Gemma Cairney is a multi-award winning broadcaster, author, activist and life enthusiast. Gemma has presented acclaimed documentaries and entertainment shows across a range of media, recent credits include, The Sound Odyssey (BBC Radio 4) and The Leisure Society (BBC Radio 6 Music). Her latest book, The Immortal Sisterhood, will be published by Canongate in 2023.

About the Expert Judges

Clare Lilley is Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in 2014 named the UK Art Fund Museum of the Year. Clare graduated with a degree in the History of Art from Manchester University. She has a particular expertise in developing and siting sculpture in the public realm and her curated and published work with artists includes Ai Weiwei, Fiona Banner, Lucio Fontana, Damien Hirst, Amar Kanwar, KAWS, Kimsooja, Alfredo Jaar, Shirin Neshat, Giuseppe Penone, Sean Scully, Yinka Shonibare CBE, David Smith, James Turrell, Joana Vasconcelos and Bill Viola.Since 2012 Clare 
has curated Frieze Sculpture in London’s Regent’s Park and she has curated for Chatsworth House in Derbyshire and at San Giorgio Maggiore for the Venice Biennale. She contributes to publications, conferences, panel discussions and art prizes worldwide. Lilley sits on the Advisory Committee of the Government Art Collection and the boards of Art UK, London and the George Rickey Foundation, New York. She has been intimately involved with a number of YSP’s buildings across its 500 acres, including the Weston by Feilden Fowles, which in 2019 was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize.

Hetain Patel is a visual artist and performance maker. He has done Bruce Lee impersonations on stage at the Royal Opera House, completed commissions for Tate Modern and Sadler’s Wells, made a working class Transformer robot from an old Ford Fiesta, designed part of a mini golf course for the Venice Biennale and has toured his live performances internationally. He is interested in connecting marginalised identities with the mainstream in an effort to destabilise notions of authenticity and promote personal freedom.

About the Celebrity Judges

Charlotte Church is a Welsh singer-songwriter, actress and TV presenter. She shot to fame as a classical singer then quickly emerged in the pop music world, selling 10 million records worldwide.

Michelle Fairley is an actress best known for playing Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones. She has also appeared in hit Sky series Gangs of London and Fortitude.

Denise Mina has published 14 novels and also writes short stories, plays and graphic novels. In 2014 she was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame.

Mark Radcliffe has been one of radio’s most distinctive voices for over two decades. One half of Radio 1′s Mark and Lard, he hosted the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and now presents The Folk Show on Radio 2. On 6 Music he co-hosts the weekend show Radcliffe and Maconie.

Russell Tovey is an actor known for roles in BBC dramas Being Human, Him & Her and Years and Years. On stage, he has appeared in critically acclaimed productions of The History Boys, A View From the Bridge and Angels in America.

Benjamin Zephaniah is a poet whose work has been heard at youth gatherings, outside police stations, and on the dance floor. He performs frequently on stage and on television, bringing Dub Poetry straight into British living rooms.

About Sky Arts

Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room. 

 We have something for everyone, championing creative talent by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, literature, opera and visual art. From Glyndebourne to Grime and Cézanne to The Style Council, we’ve got your passions covered. Millions of viewers tune in to hit returning series such as Portrait Artist of the Year, Urban Myths and British cultural institution The South Bank Show, but our acclaimed new programmes might take you anywhere from Pinter’s house with Danny Dyer to a Scottish road trip with Samuel Johnson.  

 Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK and we work with cultural partners across the country including the English National Opera, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, Creative Industries Federation and Coventry City of Culture to name but a few. 

 You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147.  If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.  

 We’re passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, so we’re working with five leading Sky Arts Ambassadors: Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, dance artist Akram Khan, conductor Charles Hazlewood, Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall, and sculptor Anish Kapoor – to run bursary schemes for new and emerging talent.  

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 23.4 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content.

 Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Peloton, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service. Through our new B2B broadband provider, Sky Connect, we offer superfast broadband with business-grade 4G back-up to small businesses in the UK.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.

 We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation.  We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

About Primal Media

Primal Media was founded in 2016 by Mat Steiner and Adam Wood, and specialises in internationally-appealing, innovative entertainment.

Primal’s credits include Big Heads (ITV), Carnage (Sky One), Jerk (BBC Three), Home Free (Channel 4), The Code (BBC One) and Release The Hounds (ITV2). In 2019, STV Studios acquired a majority stake in the company.