Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent Drinks, has a new project: to turn the UK into world's biggest art gallery. He tells us about his inspiration for the project, his favourite artists and how you can help choose which works will go on display

  • Richard Reed
    Richard Reed wearing one of the Bob & Roberta Smith T-shirts you can get if you donate to Art Everywhere

I used to walk across Shepherd’s Bush Green and on a poster site someone had put up a beautiful picture. There was no logo; it wasn’t an advert. It was really mysterious, but it was a beautiful thing to see and I would stop and look at it for 30 seconds on my way into work. It just gave you a bit of lift.

I was telling my wife about this and she said, imagine what it’d be like if there were things like that everywhere. What would it be like if all the posters across the country for two weeks showed art not advertising? So we went to the big poster companies and said this is our idea – to turn the UK into the world’s largest outdoor gallery for two weeks. And they loved it and decided they wanted to work together as an industry to make it possible: we’ve called it Art Everywhere.

You’ll be able to choose what art you get to see in this exhibition. We are asking people to vote for the 50 images they want to see from a longlist of 100 – visit from Friday 20 June to vote. They are all works from public collections like Tate, so it’s publicly owned art being chosen by the public to be shown in public.

Michael Craig-Martin Inhale (Yellow) 2002
Michael Craig-Martin Inhale (Yellow) 2002

And actually that’s even extended to the fundraising. The poster industry – who are the unsung heroes of this enterprise – have provided all the poster sites for free. Which is millions and millions of pounds worth of free media space. We just have to cover the costs of printing the posters. And they’ll give us as many poster sites as we can print posters.

 We found that the run-on cost of printing another poster is £3. We wanted to make this a mass philanthropy exercise so if you donate £3 then that genuinely will mean one extra poster site being converted to show a British masterpiece this summer. Often art is funded by a very small number of individuals giving a large amount. This is about a very large number of people giving a small amount.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 'Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea' 1871
James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea 1871
Oil on wood

I’ve had some pretty seminal moments stood in front of art. One of them at Tate Britain. I came to the Turner Whistler Monet exhibition a few years ago and something happened in the Whistler room looking at the Nocturnes – they were just mesmerising. There’s an amazing feeling of serenity you get standing in front of them. It is like someone gently patting you on the back. I had to make sure there was a Nocturne on the longlist.

There are David Hockney works on the list too. I absolutely loved his recent exhibition at the RA. With Hockney’s work you get a feeling of such delight and such pleasure. I’m from Yorkshire too: my parents used to take me to the Hockney gallery at Salts Mill on the outskirts of Bradford. There was a real sense of pride that this guy’s a northerner.

Through Art Everywhere, the Art Fund have hooked us up with Bob and Roberta Smith – he designed our logo. I hadn’t seen his work before and it just captures a spirit of optimism, of adventure, of joy and fun. It’s such a brilliant thing. His work is suffused with the same tonality as this project, which is just to say that it’s art for art’s sake and all the wonderful things that it brings.

Art Everywhere takes place 10-25 August. To donate visit – give more than £15 and get a limited edition work by Bob and Roberta Smith