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Rebecca Farley presentation to ICCHS Research Postgraduate Conference 2012.
Over the last thirty years NewcastleGateshead has established an international reputation for public art commissioning. While ambitious claims continue to be made about the societal and environmental impact of public art, particularly in terms of regeneration and placemaking agendas, what we might call the ‘aesthetic encounter’ between audiences and public artworks is often missing from the discussion. As Harriet Senie noted in her work in New York City the audience for public art remains largely “an imaginary construct”. Using NewcastleGateshead as a case study my research project aims to go some way to fill this gap, taking a primarily qualitative approach to investigate audience engagement with contemporary public art in the city, both with individual artworks and through the conceptual and interpretational framework of the wider public art ‘collection’. This presentation will outline some of the key questions that I aim to address through this project and introduce a discussion on the mix of appropriate investigative methods that might be employed within the research.