Public Art

Today’s lecture was on Public Art.

Firstly we discussed in small groups what we understood by public art, what its function is.

Accessibility for all
‘Public’ is often in private – in the galleries
Local Authority issues – that 1% of building budget has to be used for art
Social media – the internet – everyone can be an artist and self promote
To disguise urban decay
Identify locations
To celebrate religion
To teach/inform
To shock/provoke
To bind communities together
To show off a community
Illegitimate art of the people/graffiti
To debunk the commercial art world
To maintain the status quo
Making the familiar strange

Next we looked at a series of images.

The ‘public’ art gallery – all over Europe the design emulated the classic building of the Parthenon. It gave status to the works inside.The_Parthenon_in_Athens

The Partheon







national_gallery_head-on_shot London

Unlike other cultures which show their work on the exterior. Here I can call on my own experience of seeing the Meenakshi Amman Temple.

Maderia Gnasha

My favourite Hindu god – Ganesha – the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts. He is always acknowledged at the start of  ceremonies or projects.


In the UK there are war memorials to commemorate. I didn’t agree with the lecturer who sees them as a vehicle of persuasion. I regard them as a comfort to the families who lost their loved ones in pointless conflict.

War memorial

The War Memorial in the village where I was a child

Burton Joyce

These were the relations of the children I went to school with, all familiar names to me.


Holocaust Memorial Berlin


Once more I’m able to call upon personal experience – these images taken when I visited Berlin one January.

Albert_Memorial,_London Albert Memorial London – to boast of the great power of the country


Angel of the North 1998 by Anthony Gormley.
A memorial to the colliery works of the area but also an iconic marker to the city of Gateshead.

Photography for Middlesbrough Borough Council Summer 2008

Bottle of Notes 1993 Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen , Middlesbrough.
Based on the journals of Captain Cook

Trafalgar Square – who can name the men on the three plinths?

aerial photograph by

Designed by Sir Charles Barry, completed in 1845

George IV by Sir Francis Chantrey
General Sir Charles James Napier by George Cannon Adams
Major-General Sir Henry Havelock by William Behnes

Celebrating an ideology., confirmation of protection by the armed forces. Ken Livingstone (then Mayor of London) wanted these men to be removed to make way for statues ‘of people ordinary Londoners would know.’

Now the 4th plinth is used for temporary works of art.

powerless struggle

Powerless Struggle, Elmgreen & Dragset, 2012

A fun piece mocking the pompous equestrian statues.

Untitled The contenders for 2014/15

Marcus Coates
Hans Haacke
Mark Leckey
Liliane Lijn
Ugo Rondinone
David Shrigley

This is open for public votes, democratic art.

What is ‘good’ art? Should be conceptually intriguing and perceptually intriguing; mentally intriguing and visually intriguing.


Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83
Photo: Wolfgang Volz

Here the process is as important as the result.


Clothes peg, Claes Oldenburg, 1976, Philadelphia

Change of scale, change of perception – making the familiar unfamiliar, shocking, to provoke, to give identity to the locality.

Graffeti…. good or bad?



Keith Haring, subway artist but work became ‘legitimate’ – used in adverts and now found in galleries.

Advertisements – art? Huge billboards dwarfing people – visual power, telling people how we should live.


mkwfone – St Werburghs, Bristol


Heath Bunting, Bristol

Cardiff has over two hundred listed public artworks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s