Speaking of Art

From 2004 -05, and as part of an inaugural pilot, Atoll were asked to curate 9 montly ‘Talks and Debates’ informing the interphase of art and architecture, and which could help inform Preston’s ongoing physical regeneration. This pilot was commissioned by James Green, (then) Head of Public Programmes at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, alongside ‘Professor of Public Art Practice’ Charles Quick, at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). Since then, this initiave has developed separately into a much bigger public art programme for Preston called In Certain Places (ICP). As such, the inaugural series first curated by Atoll remain hosted on the ICP website under the title of ‘Talks & Debates’. All of these original, (as well as all subsequent ICP talks), were filmed and are separately hosted on the ICP-linked Vimeo Channel. Note that Vimeo embed codes have been suspended by ICP on this, but the videos can all be viewed by clicking on the actual images or links shown below.

Lewis Biggs Lewis Biggs 2

Above: Grand Gestures: The Temporary Spectacle in Public Art
19 Jan 2005 – Lewis Biggs & Clive Gillman

10 Nov 2004 – Louise Wyman/English Partnerships & Geoff Woods/Working pArts

at the coal face

Louise Wyman: Urban Design Manager: National Consultancy Unit at English Partnerships:

English Partnerships was the National Regeneration Agency, helping the Government to support high quality sustainable growth in England.

Louise Wyman led the Urban Design and Masterplanning team within English Partnerships’ National Consultancy Unit (NCU). The NCU was a multi disciplinary team with expertise in Landscape Architecture, Masterplanning, Urban Design, Engineering, Transport, Architecture, Strategic Planning, Project Management and Sustainable Development. Louise has dual professional qualifications as both a Landscape Architect and a Chartered Surveyor. She was responsible for ensuring that the highest design and sustainability standards was realised in the regeneration of EP’s strategic sites, which included 98 former coalfield sites. Louise directed the Art and Identity in the Coalfields Strategy that Working Parts was appointed to produce.

Geoff Wood: Director of Public Art Consultancy Working pArts:

Working pArts is the public art consultancy practice founded by Geoff Wood in 1997 and specialising in the effective integration of art into the working lives of towns and cities. The practice offers expertise, consultancy and commissioning services that focus on the contribution art can make to the development of a humane society. Working pArts now has a national reputation for developing public art projects of strategic significance to the urban public realm. Their approach is based on detailed research into the place and its users – the aim being to establish how the city or place works, understand its dynamics and determine how these affect residents and visitors and then propose ways in which art and artists can bring benefits.

8 Dec 2004 – Cathy Newbery/IXIA & Nayan Kulkarni

working the site

Cathy Newbery and Nayan Kulkarni – Working the Site: Art, Collaboration and Process

Cathy Newbery: Public Art Consultant & Curator and former Director of Ixia:

Ixia (previously Public Art Forum), is the national agency for the promotion of public art practice which believes that: ‘artists working in the public realm make an extraordinary contribution to our experience of public life, and that artists are communicators, facilitators, problem solvers, inventors and researchers’. Ixia believes artists should take creative risks, have a willingness to experiment and often redefine questions and problems without recourse to set solutions.

Nayan Kulkarni: artist:

At the heart of Nayan Kulkarni’s work is an engagement with ideas of site specificity, time, technology and perception. His interest manifests itself in work that is generated from specific concepts, processes or places. He works with diverse mediums utilising light, video, installation, sculpture and photography. The form and content of the work is his response to the site.

He has been interested in the role of art as a means to transform public spaces since 1993. Current public realm projects include: The Belgrave Baheno Peepul Centre (Andrzej Blonski Architects), Bristol Broadmead Development (Chapman Taylor Architects), and The Light Observation Group, Optima, Birmingham. His work has shown extensively in the UK – and abroad most recently in Pakistan. Alongside his studio practice he is, developing other curatorial and publication projects, working in collaborative design teams, and making other site-specific interventions.

19 Jan 2005 – Lewis Biggs/Biennial & Clive Gillman

grand gestures

Lewis Biggs: Chief Executive of the Liverpool Biennial:

Before becoming the Chief Executive of Liverpool Biennial, Lewis Biggs was the director of Tate Liverpool for ten years – working on shows such as the 1998 ‘Art Trans-Pennine’, the huge exhibition set astride the 150-mile corridor between Liverpool and Hull. It gave him the taste for larger scale projects, including work outside of museums and galleries, and convinced him that it is in such places that you can often reach a different kind of public and make another kind of art.

An absolutely critical component in the city’s successful 2008 Capital of Culture bid, Lewis Biggs, believes that Liverpool Biennial gives a much needed “adrenalin boost to the bloodstream of the city – one dose every two years” – whilst bringing to Liverpool the very best in contemporary art from across the world, as part of the UK’s largest visual art event. The declared mission statement of the Biennial is: “to establish and maintain a world class contemporary visual art event in Liverpool that celebrates and encourages excellence, risk, creativity, diversity, participation and debate through partnership, profile building, development of art infrastructure, quality access and education”.

Clive Gilman: Artist & Associate Director of FACT:

The artist Clive Gillman primarily works within the area of new and emerging media. He has produced works using computers and on video, in sound and using photography, also involving physical public art projects – including large-scale projections for the Liverpool Millennium waterfront celebrations as well as working on the technical management of a whole series of temporary large scale public art projects as part of Photo98. He is active in the development of artists’ access to technological resources, having set up MITES (the national arts technology resource) in Liverpool in 1992. He continues to work with them as well as working on a range of research and design projects. He was the lead artist involved in the design and development of the recently completed FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) Centre in Liverpool – where he is currently also Associate Director.

9 Feb 2005 – Peter Sharpe/Kielder & Nick Coombe/Stickland Coombe

role of curator

Peter Sharpe: Curator to the Kielder Partnership:

The unique role that Peter Sharpe provides as curator for Kielder Partnership has been hugely influential in setting out and maintaining a well-defined artistic vision for their Art and Architecture programme. The Minotaur Contemporary Maze is one of the latest additions to this exciting visual arts initiative that has already established thirteen pieces of artwork throughout Kielder Water and Forest Park, including the award winning Kielder Belvedere by Softroom and the highly acclaimed Kielder Skyspace, by American artist, James Turrell. A programme of temporary works recently commenced with Nathan Coley’s Italian Tower, an unusual but elegant addition to the north shoreline of Kielder Water.

The Kielder Partnership were short listed for RIBA Client of the Year at the 2004 Stirling Awards, with the Minotaur Maze also honoured for its excellence in design. The jurors praised the commitment of the Kielder Partnership to making projects that bring art and architecture together whilst developing the area as a major sustainable tourism resource.

Nick Coombe: Architect with Stickland Coombe:

Architect Nick Coombe, considers that a maze isn’t just the archetype seen in historical or architectural terms but that many things in modern life are mazes as well – such as a dense forest or a tax return. Working collaboratively with artist Shona Kitchen, he is responsible for the creation of the £125,000 Minotaur Maze completed as the latest part of the Kielder Art and Architecture. The maze is constructed from gabions filled in the main with the dark local Whinstone and in the central chamber with irregular lumps of turquoise glass, and complements the two other major permanent works – Belvedere and Skyspace. The winning design was selected by a national-run competition, and beat over 70 other competitors to win the commissioning prize, whilst also receiving some financial backing from a Royal Society of Art ‘Art For Architecture’ grant.

Stickland Coombe have designed exhibitions for Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The British Council, The Arts Council, The Crafts Council and the Barbican Arts Centre

9 March 2005 – Robert Powell/Public-Arts and Walter Jack/Walter Jack Studio

art of good desgin

Robert Powell: Director of Public Arts Wakefield:

‘Inspire, Assist, Inform’ is the strap-line of the Wakefield based organisation Public Arts (now called BEAM). Through Executive Director, Robert Powell, it is dedicated to the imaginative understanding of, and improvements made to, the public realm. Public Arts has 18 years experience in the field of public art and its wider context of culture, regeneration, economic development, social inclusion, and education. It has created a strong approach aimed at ensuring imagination, appropriateness, and quality within the public realm.

One of Public Arts’ key programmes is ‘People Making Places’, which sets itself the task to “improve regional demand and capacity for high quality urban design by linking communities and professionals, experts and lay people, through an integrated programme of creative activities”. The programme is delivered regionally through wide ranging collaborations linked to ‘real places’ – selected regeneration and built environment sites where development is planned, possible, or underway. A publication of the same name has been produced that aims to challenge standard definitions, working methods, and barriers to change. A part of ‘People Making Places’ is the initiative called ‘Transformation Projects’, which use the skill of artists and other urban designers to raise awareness of the public realm through temporary installation and interventions.

Walter Jack: Designer – Walter Jack Studio Ltd:

Walter Jack sees himself primarily as a Designer rather than an Artist. Working from his Studio in Bristol, he is interested in the creation of functional objects – mostly design based – made site specifically for buildings and the landscape. Past works include staircases, shelters and bridges as well as furniture. He enjoys commissions that encourage a re-interpretation of object archetypes and is influenced by architecture – in particular de-construction.

Walter Jack Studio have also completed a number of public artworks in the North of England, including the designs for St. Peter’s Square, Leeds, for which the studio was commended in the Leeds Architecture Awards 2003. He also co-created ‘The Green’, a demountable village green created in conjunction with Landscape Architects Whitelaw Turkington, commissioned by the Regional Development Agency Yorkshire Forward as one of Public Arts’ key ‘Transformation Projects’. The work was installed, deconstructed and re-built in Bridlington, Huddersfield, Halifax, Doncaster and Wakefield, and was titled ‘A Yorkshire Festival of Places’. Public Arts received an award for ‘Best Use of Public Art’ at the 2004 Roses Design Awards in Manchester.

13 April 2005 – Taylor Nuttall/Folly and Maria Stukoff

public art as physical gaming

Taylor Nuttall: Director of Folly:

Folly was a non-profit media arts organisation, based in Lancaster, which promoted photographic, video and new media work. The name Folly was taken from Folly Farm, the home and base for Dr. Philip Henman, a successful businessman, a keen photographer and a support of charitable projects.

Maria Stukoff: New Media Artist working in collaboration with MDDA:

The title for Maria’s PhD is ‘Public Art as a Physical Gaming Environment’, and it looks in part at the development of the ‘Digital Corridor’ project along Oxford Rd. as her primary research focus. Manchester City Council’s Digital Development Agency sponsored her PhD, so there were likely to be some interesting links created between urban design, public access, gaming, interactivity and playing the city.

The research assisted the City Council’s MDDA to obtain strategies for their ‘Future City’ bringing new media technologies – specifically wireless technologies – into the public domain to experience the city as an interactive game. Through case studies and quantities research methods the outcomes aimed to provide MDDA with the body knowledge to whether interactive game play can be sustained to offer long-term infrastructures for artists, councils, urban planners and businesses alike to develop a creative digital corridor for new audiences and inner city social neighbourhoods.

11 May 2005 – Adam Sutherland/Grizedale and Bedwyr Williams

romantic detachment

Adam Sunderland: Director of Grizedale Arts:

Grizedale Arts is a commissioning and residency agency based in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District of Great Britain. The programme supports artists in making new works that relate to the context of the area. Much of the work made here engages with ideas of romanticism, the environment and the way the place is used both symbolically and in real terms, i.e. what does the countryside do for us and what do we expect from it? The programme engages with local communities and events, integrating artists’ thinking and communication into mainstream and traditional activities.

For many artists the experience of working here demands new ways of working, for both artists and viewer the gallery is left behind. This innovative way of producing and showing art is typified in Grizedale’s annual events, which have, to date, launched artists projects and integrated a large body of works into a cohesive whole. These projects (to date Grizedale Live and Grizedale Show) need to be experienced live, they are interactive and often present existing community activities alongside the work of the commissioned artists.

Bedwyr Williams: artist:

Bedwyr Williams practice incorporates performance (including stand up comedy), video, photography, sound and writing. His work often provides humorous glances into the culture of everyday life in Wales, producing work with an ironic twist. His work has been previously exhibited at the National Eisteddfod and increasingly in the UK and mainland Europe. After studying in Holland he returned to Wales and was one of the founder members of the Rel Institwt, a performance and film-screening group that convenes in a variety of venues throughout North and West Wales, from back rooms of pubs to workmen’s halls.

In 2003 Williams took part in the Grizedale Roadshow in Blaenau, Wales, during which time he set up the ‘Blaenau Vista Social Club’ in the back of a caravan. In November 2003, Williams developed a new work, Schadenfreude, for the group show Apropos of Nothing, (g39, Cardiff), a wry comment on the established parameters of Welsh-ness and success.

8 June 2005 – Community Representative/Alison and Chris Davis/Alison

chris davies

Chris Davis is a Preston based artist who has developed an evolving project, alison, with residents of Brookfield Estate, Ribbleton over the past 20 years. During this time projects have been realised and exhibited in various locations such as the Harris Museum & Art Gallery and in a public art context throughout the city. The project defines a new, sustainable model for community engaged art and highlights questions of regeneration.

Click here to visit alison’s artist page.
Click here to visit Chris Davis’s The Family project page.

9. THE ICONIC BUILDING AND COSMIC ART – The search for a meaningful and shared language in the city
13 July 2005 – Libby Raper/Culture NW and Charles Jencks


Above: The Iconic Building and Cosmic Art
13 Jul – Charles Quick, Libby Raper and Charles Jencks

iconic building

Libby Raper: Executive Director of Culture Northwest:

Culture Northwest was a thinking, networking and advocacy organization and was established in 2000 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as one of eight Cultural Consortiums in each of the English regions outside London. The then Chair of Culture Northwest was Loyd Grossman, who was also Chairman of the judges for the Gulbenkian Prize in 2004 which awarded the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art as Museum of the Year, and commended its Charles Jenck’s designed Landform garden as an “inspirational, beautiful project”.

Charles Jencks: Architectural Historian, Writer and Designer:

Charles Jencks is known for his books questioning Modern architecture and defining its successors – Late, Neo and Post-Modern architecture. Born in Baltimore in 1939, he studied under the Modern architectural historians Siegfried Giedon and Reyner Banham. He now divides his time between lecturing, writing and garden and sculpture design projects in UK, Europe & USA. Over the years, he has lectured at over 40 universities and public museums throughout the world. He has appeared on many television programmes in the USA and UK, and has written two feature films for the BBC (on Le Corbusier and on Frank Lloyd Wright and Michael Graves). Most recent UK programmes he has appeared in include the Opening of Scottish Parliament for BBC Scotland in 2004; and with Melvyn Bragg on The South Bank Show in 2005.

Charles Jencks writes on cosmogenic art, and is also the author of many articles in professional journals (Architectural Forum, Architecture Review, Domus, A&U, AD and many other popular magazines). He has been an occasional contributor to many other newspapers and publications, such as London Sunday TimesMagazine, Encounter, Times Literary Supplement, The Observer, The Independent, Prometheus etc. He is an editorial consultant with Architectural Design and an editor with Academy Editions, London.

As a designer and artist, Charles Jencks is well known for the design of his Garden of Cosmic Speculation at Portrack in Scotland. He also designed the Landform garden at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, which won the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year in 2004.

His talk combined ideas from his latest book ‘The Iconic Building, Power of the Enigma’ with his design work published in ‘The Garden of Cosmic Speculation’.


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