Gordon Young (artist)

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Gordon Young with one of the Bird Stone sculptures, Cambridge
The Eric Morecambe memorial area, Morecambe

Gordon Young is a British artist specialising in public art, often including typographical elements. His Comedy Carpet on Blackpool Promenade (2011), at 2,200m2, has been said to be the largest piece of public art in Britain.

He was born in Carlisle and trained at Coventry Polytechnic and at the Royal College of Art. He was curator of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and director of the Welsh Sculpture Trust before becoming a full-time artist in 1984.[1][2]

The Gem Stane, one of seven works on the 7stane mountain bike routes, Scotland
The Comedy Carpet on Blackpool promenade


Young's works include:

  • Fish Pavement (1992), Hull: a trail of 40 lifesize fish or groups of fish inset into pavements, leading the visitor around this city with its fishing heritage. They include a plaice in the Market Place, monkfish at Blackfriars Gate, and a shark outside a bank. Renovated in 2000.[3][4][5]
  • Cursing Stone and Reiver Pavement (2001), Carlisle: a walkway (connecting Tullie House Museum to Carlisle Castle under a main road) showing the names of border reiver families, and a 14-ton granite boulder showing part of a curse against these families which bishop Gavin Dunbar caused to be read out in churches in 1525.[6][7][8]
  • A Flock of Words (2002), Morecambe: a 300m pathway linking the railway station to the sea front, with proverbs and poems about birds set into the paving[9][10]
  • 7stanes (2008), Southern Scotland: a stone at each of seven mountain bike trails (including the Border Stane near the border, which has Auld Lang Syne and Jerusalem on its two sides with a hole in the middle through which hands can be shaken).[2][11]
  • Comedy Carpet (2011), Blackpool: reportedly Britain's largest piece of public art, an area of 2,200m2 or 1,800m2 (sources vary) on Festival Headland on the promenade, opposite Blackpool Tower. It shows jokes and punchlines from comedians who have performed in Blackpool over the decades, totalling 160,000 letters. Each letter is cut from granite and inset in white concrete, in a variety of typefaces.[12][13] Five months after it was opened, the local council controversially removed part of the work because viewers were thought to be in danger of stepping backwards into the path of trams.[14] The work earned Young the 2012 Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture.[15] and in 2014 was joint winner of the International Society of Typographic Designers' International Typographic Award,[16]
  • Bird Stones (2014), Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge: one wood and six stone pieces inspired by bird song.[17]
  • Radioactive Art (2017): a BBC Radio 4 programme about art to mark sites of radioactive waste storage.[18]
  • Ealing Rock (2018): stone sculpture in Elizabeth Square, Ealing, west London, bearing words from George Formby's song "Count your Blessings and Smile" from the 1940 film Let George Do It!, filmed at Ealing Studios.[19][20]


  1. ^ Baglee, Patrick (6 September 2012). "Gordon Young". POINT. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "What are the 7stanes?". 7stanes Mountain Biking. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  3. ^ "SevenSeas Fish Trail". Welcome to Yorkshire. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  4. ^ "Fish Pavement / Hull, 1992". Gordon Young. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  5. ^ "Sculpture trails - urban: Hull Fish Trail; 'The Seven Seas Fish Pavement'". Public Art Research Archive. Sheffield Hallam University. Retrieved 23 November 2013. Set of photographs
  6. ^ "Cursing Stone & Reiver Pavement / Carlisle, 2001". Gordon Young. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  7. ^ "The Border Reivers - The Curse". BBC Cumbria. July 2003. Retrieved 23 November 2013. Includes text of curse, in English
  8. ^ "Dare You Read the Curse?". News and Star. 10 March 2005. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013. includes full text of curse, in original Scots
  9. ^ "A Flock of Words: Typography meets sculpture on a windy English seafront". Eye. Autumn 2002. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  10. ^ "A Flock of Words / Morecambe, 2003". Gordon Young. Archived from the original on 3 February 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  11. ^ "The 7 Stanes / Scotland, 2008". Gordon Young. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  12. ^ "In pictures: Blackpool Comedy Carpet". BBC News. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  13. ^ "The Comedy Carpet / Blackpool, 2011". Gordon Young. Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  14. ^ Nugent, Helen (20 March 2012). "Anger piles up over Blackpool comedy carpet destruction". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  15. ^ "Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture". Marsh Christian Trust. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Joint Winners: The International Typographic Award 2014". International Society of Typographic Designers. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Launch of new public art project in Mill Road Cemetery". Cambridge City Council. 19 February 2014. Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  18. ^ "Radioactive Art". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Ealing Rock". Gordon Young. Retrieved 7 March 2020.
  20. ^ "New Piece of Public Art For Town Centre". Ealing Today. 30 July 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2020.

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