Public Art  Private Poverty
<ul><li>“ The white cube as the perfect or only site for showing and viewing art  </li></ul><ul><li>has been a contested i...
 
‘ Yarnbombing’, Inverness 2009
 
Richard Serra, ‘Tilted Arc’, 1981 “ To its critics, it is emblematic of the problems of parachuting pre-formed, unsympathe...
Karla Black, Wish List, 2008 (Sugar paper, chalk, ribbon, hair gel, nail varnish, Plaster powder, paint, petroleum jelly, ...
David Shrigley, ‘Black Snowman’, 1996
“ A r chitecture is an event in itself.  It can exist quite independently.  It has no need for either sculpture or paintin...
APG members 1977 Ian Breakwell, Barbara Steveni, Nicholas Tresilian, John Latham and Hugh Davies. The  Artist Placement Gr...
 
 
Kenny Mackay’s statue of  Donald Dewar (1937-2000) unveiled May 2002 on  Buchanan Street, Glasgow
Kenny Hunter,  Citizen Firefighter , 2001
George Wyllie, Mhtpothta / Maternity (1995)
Douglas Gordon,  Empire ,1998 Hitchcock,  Vertigo , 1958
John Byrne,  Boy on Dog , 1974
<ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Edinburgh </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leith Mural: A mural by Paul  </li></ul></ul></...
The M8 Art Project
Dalziel + Scullion, The Horn , 1997 AN ARTIST'S impression  of the new 'snow poles'  planned for the M8 beside the Trespas...
David Shrigley Millennium Spaces Project, 1999, in collaboration with Zoo Architects,  developing a site in Possilpark, Gl...
Jackie Donachie, The Disc, Darnley, 1999
Graham Fagen,  Royston Road Trees , 2000
Paul Carter,  Signal Hut , 2001
Jonathan Monk,  Cancelled , 2001
David Shrigley
David Shrigley,  Imagine the Green is Red , 1997
OCTOBER: CONTEMPORARY ART IN ST. VINCENT STREET October presents the work of 31 Glasgow-based artists in the city-centre l...
The work comes out of a three-way relationship between myself,  household materials and the urban environment. Most days I...
Dalziel + Scullion,  Modern Nature , 2000   &quot;We set out to make a work that connects with its immediate environment a...
Donald Urquhart,  Birked Scar , 1999
'Walking through this place at night, we aim to create  an intense experience that people simply cannot get  elsewhere. An...
 
 
Over a two hour night-time walk audiences encountered a range of artistic responses, from light and  sound installations t...
nva,  The Storr - Unfolding Landscape Old Man of Storr, Skye: Festival - Aug/Sep 2005 'Scotland is often projected as a wi...
<ul><ul><li>Jenny Hogarth  Pentland Rising,  2004 </li></ul></ul>
 
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Scottish Public Art

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I will be examining the nature and role of artworks sited in the public domain
Exploring different categories of public art: monumental sculpture; building features including murals and light projections; natural artworks such as land-form artworks and temporary public works including events
I will be touching on the political argument that art is force for economic and social regeneration
I will look at a genre of public art that as a result of such policies was parachuted into public space and that was sometimes no more than a token gesture, somewhat dumped in an uncongenial setting
I will consider vandalism as a manifestation of public criticism, or a spirited guerrila art intervention by the public
Furthermore I will consider definitions of public art as the site, that is rather than the current make up of the public which it invariably outlasts, and how this new genre public art aims to resolve the contradiction of public art by determining public as the space or time

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  • Begin with this quote by Sam Aisley, she was one of the founders of the Environmental Art Degree at Glasgow School of Art. This quote frames this lecture fairly well as it touches on some of the main points I will cover: I will be examining the nature and role of artworks sited in the public domain Exploring different categories of public art: monumental sculpture; building features including murals and light projections; natural artworks such as land-form artworks and temporary public works including events I will be touching on the political argument that art is force for economic and social regeneration I will look at a genre of public art that as a result of such policies was parachuted into public space and that was sometimes no more than a token gesture, somewhat dumped in an uncongenial setting I will consider vandalism as a manifestation of public criticism, or a spirited guerrila art intervention by the public Furthermore I will consider definitions of public art as the site, that is rather than the current make up of the public which it invariably outlasts, and how this new genre public art aims to resolve the contradiction of public art by determining public as the space or time
  • To quote the title of David Harding’s 1997 publication, Public Art is both a contentious term and contested practice. Most obviously Public Art is a title that implies that all other art is somehow not for the public, it seems to draw a distinction between the publicness of Public Art’s location as opposed to the publicness of institutions like museums and contemporary art galleries. Whilst it’s an obvious point to make, public art takes the art to the audience rather than waiting for the audience to come to it, this is actually an important point since public art challenges the notion that the only valuable judgement of art is that of the educated minority. It illustrates that art doesn’t have to be contained within the institution it exists in a fully expanded field. This term ‘expanded field’ is one I will return to. I’d like to offer some background to public art in the 20 th and 21 st century, albeit a very condensed background. Its important to note that artists have always contributed in one way or another to the external fabric of the city. However, throughout much of the 20th century there was an evident trend of decline in public art, leading towards a revival or a renaissance of sorts in the 1960s. Generally speaking there has been a shift away from the idea that artists should make a permanent incision into the environment, and a move towards making a temporary intervention into the socio-cultural fabric of a site. This cultural change goes hand in hand with the acknowledgement that artists do not exist ‘outside’ of society in a privileged position, they are just as much a part of society as others, as the general public.
  • As a product of the changes of the 1960s, when shifts in artistic practice relating to who art was for and where it should be made and displayed there was a re-evaluation of public art practice. Some artists moved out of the gallery and into the streets using performance, graffiti, mural painting and video for example. Importantly, these artists have been credited with extending the boundaries and parameters of the institutions that are associated with the artworld.
  • This somewhat logical conclusion echoes the ideas set out by Rosalind Krauss’ expanded field for art practice which considerably extended the reach of publicly-sited sculpture in particular. This correlates with a number of concurrent paradigm shifts. Paradigm shifts meaning a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. This would include the dematerialisation of the art object as a reaction to consumerism by the 1970s A visible shift from objects to projects And increased participation by the recipient public in the production of culture rather than just a consumer of culture, this is what we call prosumerism, a neologism of producer and consumer. As a conscequence of these shifts can a questioning of the legitimacy of art ‘placed’ in public spaces by commissioning bodies
  • The term Public art is synonymous with work that is physically outside the gallery or museum, located in what the art critic, Lawrence Alloway, referred to as, ‘unregulated’ space. These works are passed daily by a broad cross section of people. Some public art has a specific relationship to the community in which it’s sited and its meaning is dependent link between the work and its surroundings whilst other work would seem to have no recognisable reason for why it is there. We can dissect this categorisation further and could say that there are perhaps three main particular strands of public art commissioning that are concurrently existing. Firstly there are a number of commissions which broadly speaking could have been commissioned 100years ago in that they have not responded to the paradigm shifts in practice and culture. An example of this may be Richard Serras Tilted Arc.
  • The second does take into consideration the object and its site to some extent. (Karla Black (requires only the slightest readjustment of a signature style to make it weather proof))
  • And the third involves a temporal, experiential or ambient work which does not rely on the object as a remnant to provide an enduring legacy. Generally speaking art does not normally strive to be innocuous or inconspicuous; however every artist who does public art quickly learns to deal with the impact of their art in a public space, especially if the public&apos;s exposure to the art is continuous.
  • There was a shift away from a built environment that routinely incorporated art within the architecture; this was in part ideological and inspired by the rhetoric of the European modern art movement which is exemplified by the quote you see on the screen by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, “A r chitecture is an event in itself. It can exist quite independently. It has no need for either sculpture or painting …v isual arts are subservient to architecture. ” European modernism was reacting against a perception of a corrupt and unequal society whose values were personified in increasingly laboured architectural and civic ornamentation. Whereas art had been integral to the very process of shaping the artificial environment, its reintroduction has attracted criticism for being fragmentary and even divorced from other aspects of social and architectural phenomena.
  • The Alternative Space Movement that emerged in the late 1960s was a reaction to the growing commodification of art and also to the then prevailing notion of art&apos;s autonomy and universality. But also more importantly it was a consequence of artistic interest in site-specific art. However throughout the 1970s and 80s, as site-specific art intersected with land art, process art, performance art, institutional critique, community-based art, and public art, artists insisted on the inseparability of the work and its context. This new idiom of public art was encapsulated by the Artist Placement Group’s maxim ‘context is half the work’ which was later adopted by Glasgow School of Art’s Environmental Art Department. This was an influential attitude for artists to adopt in positioning themselves in relation to their host community. Additionally there are other equally valid cultural reasons for the reassessment of public art. Notably during 1951 was the Festival of Britain, which effectively ended years of post war austerity and the issue of public art rapidly became entangled with that of the individual’s rights. No longer were the masses excluded from the culture of the elite, important factors that contributed to this would be universal education, the demand for equality and the growth of the media, all these precipitated the right to culture. This is a prevailing and prevalent attitude, that the provision of culture in the broadest sense is no longer regarded as being a privilege for the few but rather a democratic right of the entire community. And ultimately a consensus emerged in government and successive administrations, that the presence or absence of art has a measurable effect on communities. In the 1980s there was an explosion of large scale public art projects which were closely linked to the urban regeneration programmes of the Thatcher government which were founded on economic regeneration and on the creation of jobs. Public art assumed a central position in the 80s and 90s as former industrial cities were forced to look increasingly towards the national tourist and international conference markets.
  • This resulted in a lot of money and support for large-scale public sculpture that fitted the reconstruction of the post-industrial urban landscape. There was a proliferation of work that laid claim to site-specifity but that actually could have been sited anywhere. In order to give the work an accent of a certain area it tapped represented a certain industrial heritage or a cultural heritage. Today the agenda underpinning current government strategies for change has shifted from an economic one to a social one with recognition at senior policy level within health, education, social services etc of the value of art and artists. Shortly after coming to power in 1997 the Labour government introduced social inclusion policies which have impacted directly on support for art, artists and art institutions. Important though is the fact that national public funding for the arts has its roots, not in artistic excellence, but in public benefit which in and of itself is difficult to quantify. In light of government policy it is also important to question whether social, political, moral transformation is a realistic - or even desirable - function or aspiration for art and artists? Another important development was the central strategy that emerged called the ‘percent for art’ scheme. Since World War 2 countries across Europe have recognised the value of public art through the % for art initiative: A fixed percentage of the total cost of significant developments must be earmarked for art. Numerous European countries as well as states in America have adopted the scheme, both on voluntarily and mandatory basis. But here in the UK acceptance of the percent for art scheme was hesitant. This is in spite of the urgent political will to foster a cultured environment and bring ‘art’ to the widest audience possible, the percent for art had to wait till 1988. Most local authorities are reluctant to impose a percent for art on private developers mainly because it requires developers to allocate monies for its provision and they are afraid that it may lead to a rash of banalities commissioned by developers who resent this imposition. In the UK the policy remains vague, voluntary and ad hoc although its implementation has become the norm in city development. The percent for art naturally attracts criticism, firstly it betrays the conscience of a society trying to tack on a bit of culture, but also because of the insignificant amount of 1%. In reality the % for art laws germinated projects even where it wasn’t relevant to have an artistic intervention and the result is often, safe, friendly work associated with the idea of improving access and public identity for tourists. In clear terms, the % for art schemes doesn’t produce work that presents complex ideas in a public realm this is because of the fact that corporate interests tend to take precedence. Debate surrounding the significance and potential of public art persist.
  • One highly visible manifestation might be the crowning of some of Glasgow’s most noble public statues which has become something of a cult, or in recent years rather a bit of tradition with the Duke or the Joke of Wellington and his horse, which is outside of the Gallery of Modern Art being regularly targeted. It has become a bit of a Glasgow landmark with the image of the duke sporting bollards often used to promote Glasgow; on postcards, T-shirts and travel guide covers, and has even featured in an Evening Times advertising campaign, so much so that the cone-heads are an unofficial logo for the city. A campaign was instigated by Gary Nisbet, who co-authored a history of Glasgow&apos;s statues, and he has stopped city museums from selling postcards and books which show the Duke with the cone on its head. As such the council are no longer turning a blind eye, detrimental to the city’s image as a city of culture. Now is this just a bit of harmless fun or more like a Glasgow kiss which reveals the lack of relevance in monumental tradition. Memorialisation of an individual does not satisfy everyone’s belief system. Furthermore monuments like this convey messages about empire and about the cultural premises of the 19th century. In this alleged vacuum of mutually respected beliefs the treatment of monuments is perhaps systematic of public disdain.
  • Even the Donald Dewar statue of the first First Minister on Buchanan Street in Glasgow has been a victim of a similar tribute. It was damaged within hours of being unveiled, his spectacles mangled by a hammer. And has been repeatedly damaged so much so that its forlorn state has become an embarrassment to the city and has since been elevated to a higher pedestal The sculptor Kenny Hunter however, offers a more of an ironic twist on classical statuary, he likes to cultivate the idea of anonymity, and he’s attempting to re-define the contemporary sculptural monument. His sculptures are in some ways a parody of public works, not least because he inserts ideas which run counter to traditions of remembrance, triumphalism or pride.
  • Hunter’s Citizen Firefighter from 2001 shown here is sited outside Glasgow Central Station and is part hero, part action figure. This work is one of numerous examples of Hunter’s work in the city. Larger than life it looks a bit like a colossal plastic action figure that you’d find in a cereal packet give-away. It was created for Strathclyde&apos;s finest and commissioned jointly by the Glasgow City Council and fundraising by the fire-fighters themselves to pay tribute to those who ‘serve and protect’. Although its public presence may give it a civic resonance and a level of visibility often denied to other art forms Hunter’s work is intended as more of an ‘anti monument’ . It’s informed by a long tradition of public statuary and memorial sculpture but with its mix of gravitas and subversive humour he provides an antidote to neo-classical conventions. Here I’d like to quote Hunter, he says, ‘A lot of 19 th century public statues promotes the white male achiever, the industrial or Lord so-and-so. They prop up a system of values. The statues look down on people both physically and psychologically. To a lot of people, the statue of Wellington outside the Gallery of Modern Art is basically a pompous man on a horse. I am curious to know whether the traffic cone is a political act or just high spirits after the pub. I’d like to think of it as political, because he just doesn’t fit with Glasgow’s egalitarian self-image.&apos; (Scotland&apos;s Burning: Sunday Herald May 27th 2001) So Hunter here is echoing this idea that monuments to authoritarian rule no longer have a place in democratic thinking. They are monumental relics of a past age. Hunter’s Citizen Firefighter is a particularly interesting work because it has developed a new resonance far beyond that which Hunter had intended, due to historical events and social interaction the work’s function and meaning completely shifted . Two months after the work was unveiled the universal identity of this everyman hero was attested to when in the wake of 9/11 it became an overnight tribute to the rescuers who responded to the attacks at the Pentagon and World trade towers when in a show of sympathy Glasgow citizens spontaneously placed floral tributes at its base and the Strathclyde Fire brigade held an impromptu memorial service there. It took on a different meaning and infamy replaced anonymity.
  • Another work whose meaning shifted is this Oldenburgesque giant safety pin by George Wyllie. Originally it was sited in its temporary home in Glasgow’s city centre and was titled ‘Just in Case’. The title was an ironic and humorous criticism of Glasgow City Council – if they got stuck they could always borrow it. Like a lot of Wyllie’s work ‘Just in Case’ was making a socio-political statement with a bit of humour. But when this giant safety-pin was moved in 2004 to the site of an old maternity hospital its meaning also shifted, and its original intention was lost. This idea of a works attachment to a particular location being ‘site specific’ was encapsulated in the mantra ‘the context is half the work’ which was adopted by the Environmental Art department of Glasgow School of Art. The course was established in 1985 and was designed to promote the creation of art outside the gallery space. The department encouraged students to explore new avenues for researching and displaying work out-with the traditional gallery setting.
  • This is a work by Douglas Gordon who was a graduate of Environmental Art, its his neon sign Empire from 1998. It’s a public work on Brunswick Street in Glasgow, and it’s a flashback to a scene from Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo. When you look at you can see that the word &amp;quot;empire&amp;quot; is in reverse but this is corrected because the sign is fixed to a mirror. The letter P in empire doesn’t seem to be working, it goes on and off intermittently to match that of the Empire Hotel glimpsed in the film. The work can be read in numerous ways but the word Empire was particularly loaded in the context of Glasgow’s Merchant City. The original site of this work was actually demolished but it was moved to a similar lane, still off Argyll Street. The original site was also chosen in part because it was adjacent to The Mitre bar which was a favourite haunt of the Gordon. When the work was moved the neon sign of the Mitre bar was moved with it so the work retained its original intention. Its site is just off Argyll Street which is one of the major shopping streets in Glasgow and, as with similar streets in other cities, it hosts numerous neon and light signs. So this work becomes part of the ubiquitous signage of the street but clearly there is no Empire hotel in this alleyway. Like the film ‘Vertigo’, ‘empire’ constantly flips the mind between the real and the non-real, so much so that in 2003 Real Life (Ross Sinclair) intervened when a council repairman ‘fixed’ the flickering bulb thinking it to be genuine signage not realising it was art. Part of Douglas Gordon’s practice is researching and understanding artists roles within the public domain, he’s interested in public art’s potential as something that interesting artists want to practice. He wants to see it away from the idea of stuff on the roundabout or that you trip over. Although a few of the artists I’m talking about today are graduates of GSA’s Environmental Art Department its important to point out that ambient public art didn’t all stem from the department. There is actually a public art legacy within Scotland to contend with. Glasgow established a major public/community art programme in 1974 when the Scottish Arts Council set up a pilot scheme for 4 gable end murals by local artists and again in 1978 there was the Garnet Hill project which employed 10 artists to paint 2 gable murals.
  • Here you can see John Byrne&apos;s gable end mural Boy on Dog which was one of the first of many to be completed in the city during the 1970s. The other 3 were by Stan Bell (Hex), James Torrance (Celtic Knot ) and John McColl (Klah P II). The latter two murals both involved community groups to a significant degree. The kids involved in McColl’s mural signed their names which discouraged graffiti by giving a sense of local ownership. This is perhaps a strength in murals when they are based on attempts to consider the needs and location where they are executed and involve a considerable amount of consultation with the local population is carried out, often to the point where the wishes of the people most likely to view the finished mural play an instrumental part in shaping its form and subject.
  • The murals were intended to draw attention to community spirit as well as being a visual improvement. However the pilot project related to walls due in most cases for clearance. As such the brief existence of the murals led to suspicion that a gable end painting was a signal for demolition. This goes to highlight the fact that murals have long seemed to local authorities a cheap way to camouflage an environment without looking at the more complex problems and in turn this is one reason why murals have become associated with run-down areas.
  • Another form of ‘window dressing’ is the kind of projects that can be seen to decorate the dissected areas of cities, by the M8 motorway for example there are a number of works which exist in order to improve the aesthetics of the city. With the aim of improving the view from the road the M8 Art Project was set up by Edinburgh-based public art commissioning agency Art in Partnership in 1992 . Art in Partnership was established in 1985, coincidetly at the same time the Environmental Art Department was born and was the first public art commissioning agency in Scotland. In 1993, Patricia Leighton&apos;s &apos;Sawtooth Ramps &apos;, sponsored by Motorola, marked the start of the M8 Art Project. A 1000ft long sculpture of seven 36ft high ramps. The Sawtooth Ramps are built of earth and seeded with grass which is kept short by grazing sheep. Art In Partnership was partly responsible for the increased number of local artists working for public commissions, as was the introduction of Lottery Funds which created new resources for commissioning public art works in Scotland.
  • Other projects which followed, include the 80 foot high &apos;Horn&apos; by Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion , which was immediately derided and dubbed the &amp;quot;Teletubbies Horn � and David Mach&apos;s &apos;Big Heids&apos; commissioned for the Eurocentral Terminal site. And Andy Scott&apos;s Heavy Horse , from 1997 at Easterhouse which was the product of a separate private initiative. There is a 5th M8 project planned which will be sited next to the Tresspass outdoors clothing headquarters. 100ft poles reminiscent of boundary snow poles that line road verges in areas such as the Cairngorns and Glencoe. All these projects are also a testament to the fact that corporate sponsorship and business involvement in the visual arts has become increasingly common features of our cultural lives . A similar organisation to Art in Parnership called Visual Arts Projects was set up in Glasgow by Julia Radcliff who was joined on the project by MFA graduate Lucy Byatt in ’97 and Douglas Gordon’s Empire was the first public art commission by them. They have since realised a wide range of projects including the redevelopment of the Tron Theatre and Claire Barclay&apos;s Govanhill and David Shrigley’s Possilpark projects.
  • In Govanhill Claire Barclay worked in collaboration with an architect and a landscape architect on a public art project which was one of five Millennium Spaces developed in Glasgow, for the year 2000. The Millenium Spaces project was in an attempt to create areas of high focus in five areas outside the city centre. This one was in the south side of the city and involved the local community. Barclay spent a 3 month residency in a flat overlooking the space. The outcome was the Millennium Hut, it’s a deliberately enigmatic structure in the centre of the space, is artwork, tree-house and vertically stacked potting shed. Its based on the ubiquitous pigeon ‘doocotes’ that are a major feature in back gardens and waste ground around the city, and it works as an iconic, local landmark. It also evokes more complex meanings of a &apos;den&apos; or secret place, a place which becomes anything you want it to be. Projects like the Millennium Spaces reflect a significant increase in the number of public art projects which are directed at the improvement of the quality of public environments. David Shrigley ’s collaboration with a group of architects to redevelop a park and play area in the Possilpark area of Glasgow was on some level less well received by the public it sought to engage with. Shrigley added some texts from a children’s encyclopaedia which were sandblasted into the concrete surfaces and some giant feet carved in sandstone which were supposed to suggest the remnants of a giant statue. Along with the rest of the project the feet got heavily vandalised almost immediately.
  • An artist whose work and is part of a continuing interest in social engagement is Jackie Donachie. The Disc from 1999 was the outcome of an eleven month residency in the area of Darnley. The disc is an 18 metre diameter, circle set on a grassy knoll that’s a symbolic, as well as an actual place of social engagement. And like many other works in Glasgow in that it was linked to the regeneration of a public housing estate in which a residency, involving consultation with the local community, and the process of the work were key elements. This however only goes to highlight the fact that artist involved in public art navigate a number of issues when they engage with people, places, and ideas. Just as public art encompasses a diverse range of artistic practice and each has their own triumphs and problems.
  • A good example of a work which appears to have learned from such shortcomings by involving the community more fully would be Graham Fagen’s Royston Road Project. This work was part of a series of six artist commissions for the Royston Road. For it Fagen bought a new hybrid rose and selected the name ,‘Where The Heart Is’ for it from suggestions made by local residents. The Royston rose was planted in both public and private gardens in the community and also sold commercially and so the Royston rose will travel far and wide. An accompanying work resulted in seventeen trees of dedication being planted at various points along Royston Road itself. Fagen’s conceptual process for making public art resulted in a powerful statement about the aspirations of the people in an area where desperation, through poverty and crime, is common. It spoke of local issues, local memories and the concerns of the people who live there. It is a restorative work which evokes pride, ownership and identity. Other than urban regeneration another reason why there is funding for many projects is to do with audience development and access and “… f unding bodies have become very good at describing their value in terms of social outcomes. Tackling exclusion, increased diversity and contributing to economic development.” But policy itself doesn&apos;t really understand the work that it&apos;s funding because these projects aren’t striving for spectacle, or to pull a large audience. It&apos;s actually about something quiet seeping into a place, which alerts people to something new. Which is perhaps the common interest in these projects. The audience for these works may not be the mainstream art audience, except perhaps for the preview/opening. It may be a very small audience of people who are not necessarily interested in art in its generality, but the subject is very close to them. Graham Fagen&apos;s tree planting project in Royston was for a very particular audience who had actually participated in the debate around it. It&apos;s not about audience development; it&apos;s about addressing a different, maybe small audience in an articulate, engaged and appropriate way because ultimately what they are dealing with is all this &apos;policy&apos;, which is totally inert. Another public art project which was the result of an artist engaging with a community was &apos;Signal Hut&apos; by Paul Carter who was artist in residence at Royston Youth Action for 10 months during which time he worked with a group of boys from Youth Action.
  • &apos;Signal Hut&apos; was centred upon using Royston Spire as a radio transceiver to transmit and receive radio signals from space. The group worked together on building the radio control centre where audio messages were collected from residents of Royston and they worked together on assembling the equipment which transmitted those messages from Spire Park into space on the 28th July 2001. The &apos;Signal Hut&apos; project was completed with the installation of receiving equipment within the Spire which will emit a bright green light from the belfry of the spire should any reply be received. Works like these couldn’t be further from the kind of public artworks which are part of the tourist and heritage industry which are intended as visitor attractions. And rather than paint over the problems as some of the earlier mural projects done this work is more about drawing attention to spaces and situations on a number of levels; moral, social economic, political or spiritual. And in doing so it doesn’t aim to give answers or to preach, but rather it grapples with art and ideas about its place in society.
  • Public art also embraces the temporary and temporary projects carried out in the city challenge the form of public art as a stationary object in a fixed location. For example Jonathan Monk’s Cancelled from1990 which was a self initiated project. Existing now only as photographic documentation his Cancelled Projects was an action where Monk stuck cancellation strips on every advertising poster in the centre of Glasgow which were advertising concerts and other cultural events. This work engaged in acts of symbolic, if slightly tongue in cheek negation, it was a knowingly futile attempt to try and make nothing happen this and like a lot of his work its concerned with subverting the flow of everyday meaning. In a way this work and work like it, doesn’t take up public space it inhabits a space where communication takes place because fly-posting itself is of course a means of expression and communication for sub-cultural groups in most cities. Monk has a similar mordant and biting humour to David Shrigley and here are a few examples of Shrigley’s loosely scattered works, all of which have anticipated temporal limits.
  • Shrigley’s ambient public interventions, which are not sanctioned, appear and disappear unannounced. These public works are temporary and oppose the permanent tradition of public art. He makes transient, immediate, inexpensive and subtle works. Like the ones on the screen which are unobtrusive, unassuming ham-fisted scrawls and sculptures. These public art works take place outside of the conventional art institution, they are often absurd and the antithesis to monumental or statutory public art. They are low key interventions opposed to major prominent, permanent works. They advocate temporality and process rather than closure.
  • His work, like Imagine the Green is Red from 1997 was made in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow and is one of a number of works which offers an alternative view of civic space . The notion of transforming the green expanse into one that is red is comic. Shrigley’s work is evidence of a shift towards a kind of public art which emphasises flexibility and responsiveness, innovation, challenge and unregulated encounters.
  • This is reflected in the work of a number of artists engaged in public art practice who are endeavouring to reach an audience that would not usually set foot inside the more conventional art space. An example of this is the one month long event October which happened in Glasgow’s St Vincent Street. Thirty-one visual artists presented works for one day only on the street which runs from the city centre to its outskirts.
  • October placed creative activity alongside the economic and the everyday and given the transitory nature of the project all work was free from the constraints of permanence. Like David Sherry’s performance Advancement into Retreat where he responded to and prayed upon the mundane routine of a city street where the same activities are played over and over each day or Karla Black’s work, where she left alcaceltza tablets out in the rain to disolve. This genre of public art is unlike work created along an ideological line which attempts to produce something that connects to the people and which sometimes actually has a pretty dubious relationship to the community. It also makes the point that processes of development can be as important as the final products when trying to stimulate the field of public art.
  • There are also a number of artist making public art outwith the urban environment. One such manifestation of this is Sculpture at Tyrebagger which is a series of contemporary artworks specially commissioned for an area of forest just outside Aberdeen. Artists were invited to create works that would respond to the immediate area and to the North-East in general. The intention was to encourage visitors to look afresh at their surroundings, to consider the relationship between nature and culture and increase awareness and concern for the environment. Dalziel and Scullion’s Modern Nature is sited in Tyrebagger and consists of 6 slender aluminium poles, topped with saucer like disc, clumped together like futuristic trees. They emit from speakers intermittent calls of the now extinct male capercaillie bird. Of their work the artists say, &amp;quot;We set out to make a work that connects with its immediate environment and its surrounding location, but which also incorporates a more global note of reference.&amp;quot; This work, like their practice gathers shared interests in landscape, surveillance and the new industries. Modern nature links the modern world and the natural environment; the discs are like satellites and the poles like the slender glinting stalks of birch trees. As plant life uses energy from the sun so too are the sound units solar powered. The power generated by each solar panel is fed to an amplifier and speaker which when triggered by a passer-by play the call of the male capercaillie. The bird call is dependent on the amount of sunlight, furthermore the call of the capercaillie is a link with the past history of the area. Their work explores the points at which Nature and Culture intersect and modern Nature reflects the contrasting economies found in Aberdeenshire – rural and agricultural, alongside state of the art technology connected with the oil industry and telecommunications.
  • Another work sited in Tyrebagger is Donald Urquhart’s Birked Scar from 1999 which is a fifteen metre square burnt into heather and marked by 200 silver birch trees. So ‘Birked Scar’ is an artwork which literally grows out of the landscape. Urquhart has used and manipulated two of the principle plant species which occur in the area, Heather and Silver Birch, by doing so he has intervened in nature rather than significantly altering it. The work is intended to heighten the relationship between the cultural and the culturally created.
  • &apos;Walking through this place at night, we aim to create an intense experience that people simply cannot get elsewhere. And we hope this will lead to a more profound understanding of the landscape. It will be a step into the unknown.’ nva is a Scottish based environmental arts organisation set up by Angus Farquhar who is also the creative mind behind Edinburgh’s Beltane festival which reconstituted the Mayday pagan rite.
  • Founded in 1992 nva evolved from Test Dept in 1992 and has been created with a global perspective, encouraging international pioneering artists, to produce Europe&apos;s greatest site specific events , across all media.
  • They were involved in Glasgow’s Festival of light which ran for 3 days last year and comprised of projections, installations, artworks and events, linked by a flowing trail along its tight network of roads and lanes throughout the city. Whilst the project was developed and funded by Glasgow City Council it also involved The Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Sorcha Dallas, Street Level Gallery, Transmission Gallery and Independent Studios which allowed the project to showcase the city&apos;s home grown talent with a series of collaborative commissions using projections and sound and video art.
  • nva uses rural landscapes as well as urban, as a starting point to change the way people see their environment. taking what is &apos;there&apos; then uncovering the underlying realities of time, geology, history, culture, and belief. The company has created some of the UK&apos;s most critically acclaimed environmental art works, including installations in cities, river gorges, on mountainsides, and at other extraordinary and remote locations. Notably they organised The Path in 1999 which was an open-air sound and light installation, interspersed by a tableaux that those following the route came upon. The route was followed at night time and lit by streams of light pouring down the Highland valley like molten lava.
  • And one of nva ’s most recent projects was at the Old Man of Storr festival on Skye during Aug/Sep 2005 which was an art project that combined drama, music, history and hiking - in the middle of the night. nva ’s nocturnal event led up to 200 participants each night on a torch-lit walk to the Old Man of Storr. Aspects of the landscape were illuminated and soundscapes which included live music and poetry of Sorley Maclean which drifted down from the cliff tops. I&apos;d like to quickly mention a recent performance work which in its epic scale is reminiscent too of the Beltane Fire Festival and nva’s environmental spectacles.
  • Jenny Hogarth staged &apos;Pentland Rising&apos;, a performance held at the Midlothian Ski Center in the Pentland Hills on the south west periphery of Edinburgh, collaborating with skiers, musicians, historians and a choreographer to host this imitation gala spectacular. Pentland Rising was a choreographed re-enactment of the Covenanters&apos; 1666 uprising, complete with a half-naked Liberty on skis, and was mix of cultural rituals, pageantry, battle reenactments and a pastiche of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
  • To conclude then it is evident that public art works in Scotland have come about on an ad hoc basis arising from voluntary ‘percent for art’ guidelines, casual arrangements between developers, community groups, residents associations, architectural practices, public art curators and artists and the quality and standard of the works are variable. It is clear however that among the very numerous works of contemporary public art that exist, some excellent works have been carried out. Some of these have moved away from the object sculpture and are the result more of a conceptual approach to making public and are powerful works in their own right.
  • Scottish Public Art

    1. 1. Public Art Private Poverty
    2. 2. <ul><li>“ The white cube as the perfect or only site for showing and viewing art </li></ul><ul><li>has been a contested idea for many years now. As artist began to see </li></ul><ul><li>their work in the broader cultural context of its production so the context </li></ul><ul><li>in which the work was seen came to have a greater significance.” </li></ul><ul><li>Sam Ainsley </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the nature and role of artworks sited in the public domain </li></ul><ul><li>Explore different categories of public art: monumental, murals, light projections, land </li></ul><ul><li>art and temporary works </li></ul><ul><li>Political argument that art is a force for economic and social regeneration </li></ul><ul><li>Public art that was parachuted into the public domain </li></ul><ul><li>Vandalism as a manifestation of public criticism </li></ul>
    3. 4. ‘ Yarnbombing’, Inverness 2009
    4. 6. Richard Serra, ‘Tilted Arc’, 1981 “ To its critics, it is emblematic of the problems of parachuting pre-formed, unsympathetic, non-site specific work into spaces whose particularity is ignored.” Joanne Sharp, The Life and death of five spaces: Cultural Geographies, 2007
    5. 7. Karla Black, Wish List, 2008 (Sugar paper, chalk, ribbon, hair gel, nail varnish, Plaster powder, paint, petroleum jelly, polythene, rubber glove.) Karla Black
    6. 8. David Shrigley, ‘Black Snowman’, 1996
    7. 9. “ A r chitecture is an event in itself. It can exist quite independently. It has no need for either sculpture or painting …v isual arts are subservient to architecture. ” Le Corbusier
    8. 10. APG members 1977 Ian Breakwell, Barbara Steveni, Nicholas Tresilian, John Latham and Hugh Davies. The Artist Placement Group (APG) emerged in London in the 1960s. The organisation actively sought to reposition the role of the artist within a wider social context, including government and commerce, while at the same time playing an important part in the history of conceptual art during the 1960s and 1970s. The Observer journalist, Peter Beaumont, has described the APG as ‘ one of the most radical social experiments of the 1960s’. “ The context is half the work”
    9. 13. Kenny Mackay’s statue of Donald Dewar (1937-2000) unveiled May 2002 on Buchanan Street, Glasgow
    10. 14. Kenny Hunter, Citizen Firefighter , 2001
    11. 15. George Wyllie, Mhtpothta / Maternity (1995)
    12. 16. Douglas Gordon, Empire ,1998 Hitchcock, Vertigo , 1958
    13. 17. John Byrne, Boy on Dog , 1974
    14. 18. <ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Edinburgh </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leith Mural: A mural by Paul </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Grimes, depicting the history </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>of Leith on the corner of Ferry </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Road and North Junction Street. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Glasgow Mural (1990), Saracen Street, Possilpark
    15. 19. The M8 Art Project
    16. 20. Dalziel + Scullion, The Horn , 1997 AN ARTIST'S impression of the new 'snow poles' planned for the M8 beside the Trespass factory Andy Scott, Heavy Horse , 1997 David Mach, Big Heids , 1999
    17. 21. David Shrigley Millennium Spaces Project, 1999, in collaboration with Zoo Architects, developing a site in Possilpark, Glasgow. Claire Barclay Millennium Hut
    18. 22. Jackie Donachie, The Disc, Darnley, 1999
    19. 23. Graham Fagen, Royston Road Trees , 2000
    20. 24. Paul Carter, Signal Hut , 2001
    21. 25. Jonathan Monk, Cancelled , 2001
    22. 26. David Shrigley
    23. 27. David Shrigley, Imagine the Green is Red , 1997
    24. 28. OCTOBER: CONTEMPORARY ART IN ST. VINCENT STREET October presents the work of 31 Glasgow-based artists in the city-centre location of St Vincent Street. Each artist is assigned one day of the month of October 2001 in which they can make and show work in any site along the street: bars, cafes, banks, offices, waste-grounds, churches, pavements, walls… Presenting public art in this transitory way allows the artists the freedom to bring their practice into the public realm without the constraints of producing a permanent work. St Vincent Street runs from George Square across the M8 and into the residential area of Finnieston: from the heart of the city to its contrasting outskirts. Along the way, the overall look and atmosphere changes from high-class commercial outlets and the head offices of national corporations to small corner-shops and council flats. Rather than placing the art object in the gallery, October places the work of art within this social context that represents various aspects of the everyday. Artworks will include installation, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, text, and video. Not all of the artists have previously made public art, many work only in gallery spaces. These artists have been selected to represent a cross section of contemporary art practice in Glasgow, enabling a general engagement with the wider context of the city street.
    25. 29. The work comes out of a three-way relationship between myself, household materials and the urban environment. Most days I will do something like burst a bag of flour in the park, or lay toilet paper over daffodils. Karla Black David Sherry Advancement into Retreat
    26. 30. Dalziel + Scullion, Modern Nature , 2000 &quot;We set out to make a work that connects with its immediate environment and its surrounding location, but which also incorporates a more global note of reference.” Dalziel + Scullion
    27. 31. Donald Urquhart, Birked Scar , 1999
    28. 32. 'Walking through this place at night, we aim to create an intense experience that people simply cannot get elsewhere. And we hope this will lead to a more profound understanding of the landscape. It will be a step into the unknown.’ Angus Farquhar, nva
    29. 35. Over a two hour night-time walk audiences encountered a range of artistic responses, from light and sound installations to more complex international performance and music, built around key natural features within the glen. For The Path walking itself became significant. The ‘horseshoe’ route followed an old drove road/peat track rising to 1,500 feet past a flowing burn with deep pools, rockfalls, ancient trees and scattered shielings.
    30. 36. nva, The Storr - Unfolding Landscape Old Man of Storr, Skye: Festival - Aug/Sep 2005 'Scotland is often projected as a wild place empty of people and that is not really the case. We have been working with local communities, writers, musicians and mountaineers, people who know Trotternish, with the aim of getting to the heart of the human history of the place. We are trying to articulate this for visitors using illuminations, sound and the weather, of course.’ Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA
    31. 37. <ul><ul><li>Jenny Hogarth Pentland Rising, 2004 </li></ul></ul>

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