Every urban regeneration project seems to come with its own piece of public art. Scotland has a long tradition of art in public spaces. But what is it actually for?
Examine the nature and role of artworks sited in the public domainExploring 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 eventsI will be touching on the political argument that art is force for economic and social regenerationI 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 settingI will consider vandalism as a manifestation of public criticism, or a spirited guerrila art intervention by the public
David Harding, Glenrothes’ first town artist (1968-78), dedicated himself to creating art, not for visitors, but embedded in the neighbourhoods of those who lived there.Harding felt it was important to involve local people and get them to contribute.One of the first ways that was done was by getting local school children to make a very personal ceramic tile which they all cemented into a wall next to their playground.
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.
A major arts project by Craig Coulthard, in the Borders of Scotland, Forest Pitch arts project created a full-size football pitch hidden within a forest. Commercial trees felled to make space for the pitch will be used to create goalposts, a shelter and other infrastructure on site.In summer 2012 Forest Pitch hosted two football matches. The participating players were made up of amateurs from across Scotland, who have taken up British citizenship since 2000. Spectators of the games were members of local communities and schools, the players' families and people involved in producing the event; andthe general publicAfter the games, the site has been left to grow back naturally, with some native species replanted to encourage a more diverse environment. This major commission aims to encourage debate about national identity, the natural world, sustainability, the nature of collective memory and the benefits of sporting participation. It this way it acted as a small-scale mirror to the London 2012 Games
The teams’ football strips were designed by Scottish school children as part of a national design competition
Provide a series of creative experiences through which people can reflect on the massive changes happening in the area, to celebrate and give significance to the many people that have passed through the Red Road Flats.
Red Roadsocial engagementAnd 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.
Deveron Arts has no gallery - instead the town is the venue - acting as studio, gallery and stage for artists of all disciplines invited from around the world to live and work here. For this we use found spaces throughout the town and its surrounding areas: supermarkets, churches, garages etc. to name just a few.
When the weekend comes, Huntly’s social life is drawn towards the Strathbogie Disco. Garry designed a soundtrack for late night violence. Garry collaborated with police and pub owners to play the music via an outdoor mobile sound unit between 10pm-2am over the weekend. When a fight occurred, his helpline was called and he would activate the music to aid dispersal.
“When viewing the sculpture of Saddam Hussein being pulled down, I was witnessing an object, which had been built to be permanent, transforming, advancing how futile an idea of permanence became.My own sculpture falls over and advances to another state in its existence”.
Jeremy Deller's Sacrilege at Glasgow Green was part of the Glasgow international festival of visual arts was a giant inflatable Stonehenge.
“The white cube as the perfect oronly site for showing and viewing arthas been a contested idea for manyyears now. As artist began to seetheir work in the broader culturalcontext of its production so thecontext in which the work was seencame to have a greater significance.”Sam AinsleyKevin HarmanSkip 11(2011)
Objectives:• Examine the nature and role ofartworks sited in the public domain• Explore different categories of publicart: monumental, murals, lightprojections, land art and temporaryworks and events• Political argument that art is a forcefor economic and social regeneration• Public art that was parachuted intothe public domain• Vandalism as a manifestation ofpublic criticism
• Public Art is a title thatimplies that all other art issomehow not for thepublic• It seems to draw adistinction between thepublicness of Public Art‟slocation as opposed tothe publicness ofinstitutions like museumsand contemporary artgalleries
David Harding, Glenrothes’first town artist (1968-78), dedicatedhimself to creating art, not forvisitors, but embedded in theneighbourhoods of those who livedthere.
“Architecture is an event in itself. It can exist quiteindependently. It has no need for either sculpture orpainting…visual arts are subservient to architecture.”Le Corbusier
APG members 1977Ian Breakwell, Barbara Steveni,Nicholas Tresilian, John Lathamand Hugh Davies.The Artist Placement Group (APG) emerged in London in the 1960s. The organisation activelysought to reposition the role of the artist within a wider social context, including government andcommerce, while at the same time playing an important part in the history of conceptual art duringthe 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 ishalf the work”
David Shrigley, Imagine the Green is Red, 1997
OCTOBER: CONTEMPORARY ART IN ST. VINCENT STREETOctober 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 2001in 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 inthis transitory way allows the artists the freedom to bring their practice into the public realm without the constraints of producing a permanent work. St VincentStreet 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, theoverall 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. Artworkswill include installation, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, text, and video. Not all of the artists have previously made public art, many work only ingallery spaces. These artists have been selected to represent a cross section of contemporary art practice in Glasgow, enabling a general engagement with the widercontext of the city street.
The work comes out of a three-way relationship between myself,household materials and the urban environment. Most days I willdo something like burst a bag of flour in the park, or lay toilet paperover daffodils.Karla BlackDavid SherryAdvancement into Retreat
Dalziel + Scullion,Modern Nature, 2000"We set out to make a work that connects with itsimmediate environment and its surrounding location,but which also incorporates a more global note ofreference.” Dalziel + Scullion
Walking through this place at night, we aim to createan intense experience that people simply cannot getelsewhere. And we hope this will lead to a more profoundunderstanding of the landscape. It will be a step into theunknown.‟Angus Farquhar, nva
Over a two hour night-time walk audiences encountered a range of artistic responses, from light andsound installations to more complex international performance and music, built around key naturalfeatures within the glen. For The Path walking itself became significant. The „horseshoe‟ routefollowed an old drove road/peat track rising to 1,500 feet past a flowing burn with deep pools,rockfalls, ancient trees and scattered shielings.
nva, The Storr - Unfolding LandscapeOld Man of Storr, Skye: Festival - Aug/Sep 2005Scotland is often projected as a wild place empty ofpeople and that is not really the case. We have beenworking with local communities, writers, musiciansand mountaineers, people who know Trotternish, with theaim of getting to the heart of the human history of the place.We are trying to articulate this for visitors usingilluminations, sound and the weather, of course.‟Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA
Craig CoulthardForest Pitch (2012)Forest Pitch aimed toencourage debate aboutnational identity, the naturalworld, sustainability, thenature of collective memoryand the benefits of sportingparticipation.
The teams’ football strips were designed by Scottish school children
Provide a series of creativeexperiences through whichpeople can reflect on themassive changes happeningin the area, to celebrate andgive significance to the manypeople that have passedthrough the Red Road Flats.
Garry WilliamsMusic For StreetFights: A Soundtrackto Late-NightViolence ( 2008)StrathbogieHotel/Disco, Bogie StFilm stillWhen the weekend comes, Huntly’s social life is drawn towards the Strathbogie Disco.Garry designed a soundtrack for late night violence. Garry collaborated with police andpub owners to play the music via an outdoor mobile sound unit between 10pm-2amover the weekend. When a fight occurred, his helpline was called and he wouldactivate the music to aid dispersal.