Wednesday, 13 April 2011

More spectacularly terrible public art is unveiled...

Sited at Fulham Football Club's grounds, Craven Cottage, for no other reason than that Muhammad al Fayed could find nowhere else to put it, the statue of Michael Jackson unveiled on the 3rd April 2011 was described by Louisa Buck at The Art Newspaper as being 'almost so bad it's almost good'. I like the fact she doesn't commit herself to saying it's quite bad enough to be good. 

Actually, Michael Jackson did once attend a Fulham game (they were playing Wigan in 1999, fact fans) although whether the event was worthy of such commemoration is debatable.

There's an entertaining video here on the BBC website about it:  but weirdly nowhere does the name of the artist appear - funny, that.

Paul Rooney commission at The Storey in Lancaster

A new text-based art work by visual artist Paul Rooney has been unveiled at The Storey Creative Industries Centre in Lancaster on 30th March 2011. The work was co-commissioned by Storey Gallery and Litfest, and is located along the first floor Gallery corridor.

Storey Gallery and Litfest are the two arts organisations based in the The Storey, and share the main first-floor corridor of the building. The work is intended as a symbolic reflection of the work of both organisations. Very sadly, both organisations recently learned that they have lost their Arts Council funding. Carol Ann Duffy wrote a poem decrying the cuts which was published in The Guardian on 9 April and here: She mentions Litfest in the first line.

The Paul Rooney commission is centred around a supposed artwork consisting of the two names of ancient Greek representatives of writing and sculpture - Homer and Hephaestus. The fictional installer of this artwork has apparently overstepped his brief and added a series of footnotes, spiraling out across the surrounding walls, creating a complex and humorous narrative.

Paul Rooney works in a range of media including film, video, sound, and text. Storey Gallery exhibited one of his recent films, La Decision Doypack, in the gallery in 2009. His works often deal with the historical past as recollected by real or fictional individuals, and are heavily layered with cultural references that immerse the viewer in a complex world of reality and artifice. 

Rooney lives in Liverpool, where he was born in 1967. He is a prolific artist with an extensive track record of worldwide exhibitions, residencies, and fellowships. He has had solo projects at Ikon, Birmingham; Cubitt, London, and Matt’s Gallery, London; and he has participated in group shows at Tate Britain; Tate Liverpool; Kunst-Werke, Berlin; Galeria Casa Gaia, Havana; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the touring exhibition British Art Show 6. In 2008 he was winner of the second Northern Art Prize.

Locws International opens in Swansea (16 April - 13 May 2011)

Trees by Maider Lopez, Museum Green, Swansea

Locws international 2011 is an exhibition of new temporary artworks by a selection of Welsh and international artists in public spaces across the City of Swansea.The event will be launched at a reception at the National Waterfront Museum on Saturday 16 April at 6:30pm.

Locws International is an artist-led organisation that works with UK-based and international artists to create temporary visual arts projects for public and accessible spaces across the city of Swansea in south Wales, UK. In each project, place or context is integral to the work. Locws has been established since 2000.

Artists at Locws International 2011 include Simon & Tom Bloor, Alex Duncan, Laura Ford, Rhys Himsworth, Maider L√≥pez and Bedwyr Williams. Each of the invited artists has considered the historical, cultural or environmental aspects of the city as inspiration to create their new works. This exhibition captures a response to the city at a time of evolution and change, picking up on the past, present and future.
Past Projects also on show include:

Bermingham & Robinson
‘The British Empire Panel Project’
Brangwyn Hall

Niamh McCann
‘Flock Of Ospreys Looking For The Old Blind Sea Captain Who Dreams Of His Deceased Sea Fellows Under A Visiting African Sun’
Dylan Thomas Theatre

Jackie Chettur
‘…It Is 89 Days This Morning Since We Left The Mumbles Head’
Swansea Museum

Simon Whitehead
‘Walking Between Craters’
Swansea Museum

Other significant dates and events: 

Locws Schools Exhibition (16 April – 15 May)
National Waterfront Museum
Illustrated Talk: Locws In Context Wednesday 27 April 1:00pm
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
Guided Walks:
From National Waterfront Museum
Saturday 16 April 10:30am-12:30pm
Saturday 23, 30 April & 7 May 10:30am-12:30pm & 2.00pm-4.00pm
Wednesday 20, 27 April & 4, 11 May 10:30am-12:30pm
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Tues-Sun 10:00-5:00
‘Ffilm 3’ Until 1 May
Mission Gallery Tues-Sat 11:00-5:00
‘The Curious World Of Becky Adams’ Until 22 May
Elysium Gallery Wed-Sat 12:00-5:00
‘W.O.M.A.N’ Until 7 May

You can download a copy of the brochure here:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

First issue of 'Art and the Public Sphere' journal is published

You can download a free copy of the first issue here: 
According to the blurb...
Art & the Public Sphere voices a critical relationship towards the traditional and conventional debates about the specific field of public art, as well as towards the broader discussions and art practices in the public sector and the public realm. Whilst ‘public art’ has continually suffered from its mixed role as art and also town planning, in the UK, for example, the perceived success of Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North has since recruited public art for the purposes of ‘place-making’ and the branding of cities. The journal offers an engaged and responsive forum in which to debate the newly emerging series of developments within contemporary thinking, society and international art practice. It is peer-reviewed and edited by Mel Jordan, an artist who works for the collective Freee.
Contents: Volume 1 Issue 1, 2011
  • EDITORIAL: Mel Jordan
  • From cultural populism to cool capitalism, Jim McGuigan
  • Privatizing the public: Three rhetorics of art’s public good in ‘Third Way’ cultural policy, Andy Hewitt
  • Dissensus and the politics of collaborative practice, Kim Charnley
  • Retro-Spective: ‘Places with a Past’ – New site-specific art in Charleston, Spoleto Festival USA, 1991, Mick Wilson
  • Performative tactics and the choreographic reinvention of public space, Martin Patrick
  • REVIEWS: Rebecca Coates; Danielle Child; Maeve Connolly; Katie Daley-Yates; Hendrik Folkerts; Georgina Jackson; Mark Hutchinson.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Public Art Funding Cuts

So the news is in - and it's not great for institutions who deliver public art.

Beam in Wakefield, Artpoint in Oxford, Commissions East in Cambridge and the Kielder Partnership in Northumberland have all suffered 100% cuts to their Arts Council funding. Previously all were Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs). It remains to be seen whether they will survive, although it will clearly be easier for organisations who can adapt and extend their reach.

On the positive side, IXIA (the national thinktank for public art) has survived but with a 15% cut. Liverpool Biennial has received a 9.2% increase although they have already been affected by the disappearance of the Regional Development Agency who contributed some support.

ArtAngel in London has got a 19.2% uplift and some of the architecture centres have also retained their funding (although not all).

A new National Portfolio Organisation in London is UP Projects who will receive £104,000 starting in 2014/15.

You can see a map of where the 100% cuts have taken place:
or you can see a list of them here:

The full list of organisations still getting funding, and new organisations, is here:

Performance in the public realm seems to have done quite well, with Kendal Arts International (responsible for Mintfest) becoming an NPO with around £300k a year, and In Between Time in Bristol, which supports experimental performance art, getting around £200k a year.

So....what is the future for public realm commissioning in the UK? Watch this space.