Opportunities for emerging artists and public art
Whether it inspires, challenges, entertains or informs—public art plays a vital role in creating vibrant places to live. So how can emerging artists harness the increasing public art opportunities and ensure their artwork is successful?
According to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, “A city without a flourishing artistic and cultural life would be a poor place indeed. Our artists celebrate and enrich our city and contribute to our sense of identity and sense of place.”¹
For Australia’s emerging talent, the opportunity to create a public artwork contributes to their sense of identity as an artist too. With stories to tell, events to represent, issues to contemplate or people to amuse, public art commissions have the power to give emerging artists visual voices and create civic dialogues with audiences who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise encounter their works.
So how can emerging artists harness the increasing public art opportunities and ensure their artwork is successful? The answer lies in strategic collaboration, community engagement and environmental considerations to create public artworks that communities are proud to own.
Public art and placemaking in the built environment
Australian public art has moved from the monuments, fountains and sculptures of yesteryear to meaningful pieces that fit the context of their built environment. Temporary or permanent, the trend of integrating public art into a space or building’s placemaking strategy is here to stay as communities play a bigger role in shaping their local public realm.
Strengthening connections between people and place
Australian city councils are increasingly demanding the incorporation of public art into development planning and placemaking. This is good news for emerging artists as there are greater opportunities to develop fresh ideas that strengthen connections between people and place.
Ultimately, like Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago or Antoni Gaudí’s Parc Güell in Barcelona, standalone public artworks have the potential to become a city drawcard, not just a proud community asset.
However, integrated artworks such as Yann Kersalé’s One Central Park Sea Mirror in Sydney is a glittering example of bringing theatre to a public space while cleverly achieving public art mandates in a new development that both residents and the community can enjoy.
The role of councils in supporting public art
The public art strategies and policies that many city councils have in place support and encourage existing and emerging talent and guide the acquisition, management and maintenance processes.
The City of Sydney, for example, is committed to delivering a dynamic Public Art Program and has released a Public Art Strategy. Its development guidelines also encourage “incorporating works of art in a development,” for:
- urban renewal areas requiring a masterplan
- privately initiated multiple residential, commercial or industrial projects which include a significant amount of public (or publicly accessible) space or which have a construction value exceeding $10 million.²
Likewise, the City of Melbourne’s five-year framework for arts infrastructure ensures the integration of embedded public art
projects in new public and private developments. The City of Perth is on board with public art, too, recently adopting a Public Art Strategy while Creative Brisbane actively encourages artists to register for creative opportunities. And it’s not just our state capitals and big cities. More and more councils are recognising the value of local artists and their role in creating or enhancing meaning to public buildings and spaces.
Bringing new dimensions to artistic storytelling
Advancements in technologies provide emerging artists with enormous potential to consider previously impossible installations. Today, artists, architects, developers, builders, industrial designers and engineers are forming multi-disciplinary teams to bring an artist’s vision to life.
One such triumph of teamwork and kinetic engineering is Australian artist Marion Borgelt’s Musical Spheres, located in Sydney’s Angel Place. Paying homage to the site’s history as a musical precinct, suspended circular forms slowly move up and down, playing the air as people move in and out of the space, referencing music through movement rather than sound.
The growing demand for indigenous public art
Public art that recognises and celebrates Aboriginal stories and heritage are increasingly being commissioned in the built environment. Often developed in consultation with Elders, these powerful expressions provide opportunities for established and emerging artists to share their knowledge.
Judy Watson’s Bara, due to be unveiled in 2021, is a stunning example of this. Through a sculptural representation of the crescent-shaped bara – the fishhooks crafted and used by Gadigal women for thousands of generations – Judy honours the skills of Eora women. “It will be inspiring and educational, beautiful and transformative,” she says.
“Artists are vital to the lifeblood of a city,” says the Sydney Lord Mayor. And in a current and post-pandemic world, access to open-air art inspiration has never been more important or welcome. Whether we’re listening to indigenous stories through sculptures, walking through Uluru’s Field of Light, or #gramming Sculptures by the Sea—emerging artists are our lifeblood to inspire, challenge, entertain and inform in new ways.
Tilt Industrial Design is proud to work with established and emerging artists from Australia and overseas, including Louise Zhang, Marion Borgelt, Blak Douglas, Dennis Golding, Warren Langley, Nuha Saad, Yann Kersalé’, Graham Chalcroft, Ross Shephard, Kate Banazi, Shireen Taweel, Nike Savvas, Michaela Gleave and Warren Langley.
¹ City of Sydney City Art Public Art Strategy
² Interim Guidelines for Public Art in Private Developments – City of Sydney (nsw.gov.au)
News stories and ideas hub showcasing the trends, studios and people pushing the creative boundaries of the built environment.