Getting Site Specific
Cockpit Arts and CreateKX put public art under the microscope
On 17 September 2009, as part of the London Design festival the Wellcome Centre opened its doors to a full-house of 70 designer-makers, all keen to hear the low down on public art commissioning. The Getting Site Specific seminar was hosted by Cockpit Arts and Kings Cross visionaries Create KX in response to growing interest in this arena. It brought together a specialist panel of public artists, architects and commissioning bodies all ready to address the nitty gritty of site specific work.
Vivien Lovell, Director of art commissioning agency Modus Operandi, started off the evening ‘anyone can do anything, given collaboration’ she stated. This was to become one of the key themes of the evening. Having a strong artistic concept and relevance within an architectural situation were her other main ingredients for success. Renowned textile designer Kate Blee (work pictured) had a host of ‘top tips’ on getting a first commission – from making connections with specific architects to managing a wide range of client and stake-holder expectations. Her main advice however was for designer-makers to be confident in their ability to deliver a vision, to get their work seen and to go for it! Speakers Caney Ash of Ash Sakula Architects and Alan Rossiter of Free Form finished with excellent overviews of community based and international projects.
The wealth of public art opportunities available to designer-makers was reinforced time and time again by the four speakers. Whilst it seems the number of speculative developments is diminishing, there is still plenty of scope for commissioning art in the public sector areas of Transport, Health and Education. Some London boroughs, including Camden, have a good reputation for commissioning art in public places, planning policies are still conducive to public art and there are ongoing examples of private sector commissioning including the Kings Cross Development.
At the end of the evening the panel addressed questions from the audience, and there was a networking session over drinks. The mood was upbeat and optimistic, with members of the audience commenting that they ‘came away from the evening feeling very fired up.’ So as they say – watch this ‘site specific’ space.
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Tags: architectural, collaboration, commisioning, site specific