Author: Nick Booth

Was the Big Picture about the artist or the community?

I was tarting around looking for more ratings and favourites in my attempt to push this video from the unveiling of the Big Picture high in the Youtube ratings when I came across another person chasing credit.

Helen Marshall, the artist who worked on The Big Picture, had left a comment here quoting another photographer questioning if Helen was getting sufficient credit:

Comment from Julia Sander
In view of the fact that this is a world record breaking project, I am extremely surprised to find that the name of the artist, Helen Marshall , who was commissioned to lead the final phase and making of the Big Picture. is not mentioned more prominently, and in fact in most press releases, has received no credit at all for her work. I feel that this is a matter which should be rectified at once.
Julia Sander

This bemused me. (Update – Scroll down to see Helen’s response in the comments section. Julia Sander is Helen’s mum who was using her flickr account and (like all proud mums) wanted to be sure her daughter got due credit. The original comment has now been removed).

I contributed some pictures to the big picture and so rather oddly/uncomfortably find myself getting credit for being a joint World Record holder. I’m sure I’m a joint record holder with Helen – who will have also contributed images to the whole mosaic. The final image chosen to be turned into a mosaic was taken in the 1920’s. I would imagine the choice of image would have to fit certain practical constraints. A photo of a poppy was never going to make it because there would not be enough mostly red photos available to make the montage work.

So where does Helen sit in relationship to the community of people who’s technical skills or volunteering of images made the whole project happen?

For example is Helen as an individual artist more or less important than any one of the many people who contributed images? Granted many of those images I would just call snaps (certainly mine), but many of them were very fine photographs and the people who took them were indulging in art.

I suppose the comment just gets me thinking about the relationship between art as a communal endeavour and art as an individual act. The Big Picture is a deliberately communal endeavour, bringing together hundreds (thousands?) of volunteers plus loads of paid professionals who use their technicals skills as photo mosaic makers, designers, software writers, community builders, scaffolders or artists to make the whole thing work.

So who amongst all these should be elevated above the others and why?

CarrotMob or Save the environment by drinking beer.

There are different ways to tackle climate change. In the last month I’ve written about the focussed and globally ambitious cquestrate. Now recent Birmingham Blogger Jonathan Melhuish (and also here) who’s relocated to London tells me you can also do it by drinking beer.

Carrot Mobs work by finding the local business which is willing to devote the largest portion of an half days takings to green upgrades. When a store commits to divert the dosh into making changes you organise to provide as many customers as possible in that afternoon

CarrotMob is a fun community action which rewards businesses that become more energy efficient. The concept is to take several businesses in a community and start a bidding war find the one prepared to invest the most in improving their energy efficiency. We then all flashmob the winning business at the agreed time and make our purchases there. The business then spends the agreed percentage of revenue it took during the CarrotMob on replacing appliances with more energy-efficient models. Everybody wins! 🙂


It sounds fun and makes a huge amount of sense for each business. Fan Page.

The fab moment Lucy Moore realised her Grandfather’s picture was The Big Picture Winner 2008


I love this video – keep watching until the end. It shows just how much emotion was invested in The Big Picture – the West Midland’s Guinness World Record breaking photographic art event. One of eight photographs had been chosen as the picture to be used for the World’s Biggest photo Mosaic which was unveiled this lunchtime at Millennium Point in Birmingham. The digital Mosaic can be found here on the site and is worth a zoom in! Some of my pictures are in there – yours might be too – and we’re all joint world record holders!

One thing that made me realise that it had introduced new people to the regional arts world was a simple comment at the unveiling. “Who are all these people, I’ve not seen most of them before” very a very experienced regional arts bod. That is the whole point, to get beyond the usual.
So what of the winning photo Lucy Moore submitted:

Big Picture Winner 2008

As the blurb on flickr says:

Seventeen year old, Tipton born Lucy Moore sent in this picture of her Grandfather, who holds a very special place in her family’s heart after dying in 1987. The family believes the picture was taken around 1926, when her Grandfather, the late Arthur James Bunce was seventeen and an amateur boxer. So powerful is the image, that Lucy’s brother has had it tattooed across his back as a lasting tribute to Arthur.

Congratulations to everyone who took part, including Arts Council West Midlands, Audiences Central, BBC West Midlands and artist Helen Marshall, Then there are others who worked on it: Jon Bounds, Stef, Mark, Chris, Kerry, Lucy, Kate… Plus of course those who also added pictures, like Paul and Elizabeth, Steve, Hanuman, Pete, Pete MCJ, Rebecca, Richard, Paul, Lee…and hundreds/thousands of others.

It takes 90 minutes a story and a network to change someones life:

Yesterday Beth Kanter tweeted this blog post asking for contributions to help a Cambodia orphan pay her fees and stay at University. She asked us the same question last year and within 24 hours Leng had the $1000 she needed for Leng to do a year. Within a few days enough had been raised to help two people with student fees. This time it took just 90 minutes for Beth’s global online network and the trust we have in her to send Leng back for her final year.

Everything accelerates online!

Other blog posts about this:

Using Social Media for Social Good by Andru Edwards
Live Blog post by Bill’s Blog
An Uncomplicated Kindness at Gnomedex by Lipsticks and Laptops
Gnomedex Goes Bollywood by Dave Delaney
Gnomedex Day 1 by Dave Brezeal
Gnomedex by Jay Cross
Photography and Social Good Are Themes At Gnomedex by Jason Preston
Aftermath of Gnomedex by Stewtopia
RoundUp by CenterNetworks
What you missed at Gnomedex by Kevin Merritt
Using Social Media to Effect Social Change by Dan Risely
Seven Notes about Gnomedex by Kris Krug
Gnomedex, Sarah Lacy and More by Silicon Florist Podcast
From 0 to $2,500 in 90 minutes by Shiney Red Toy
Seven Notes About Gnomedex by Dave Delaney