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Mapping the Future: Public Art in Scotland - report into Mapping due for publication in August 2011

Date uploaded: July 13, 2011

Mapping the Future: Public Art in Scotland was a public event in October 2010. For more information about the event please see below. Following the event, Public Art Scotland commissioned Ken Neil (GSA) to produce a report into Mapping, which has been completed and is due for publication in August 2011. It will be published on PAR+RS – and we will update with further details once these are available.

Mapping the Future consisted of three symposia, framed within a programme of artist-led actions and interdisciplinary talks, which looked at the future of public art in Scotland.

A series of inspirational presentations of successful public art projects set the broader context within which artists, theorists, designers, planners, commissioners, users and funders were able to debate contemporary issues. The discussion concentrated on representation and critique of the current 'moment of practice' - the intersection between the perspectives of artist/practitioners, and the perspectives of the 'people who want'. Underlying this are important questions about how and why perspectives might differ, and what the theoretical, practical and political implications of such differences might be.

Mapping the Future: Public Art in Scotland informs a renewed approach to public art within Scotland’s specific social, cultural and economic landscape. Exploring the experience, expectations and needs of commissioners, local authority representatives, architects and planners can re-articulate the public realm as a context for interaction. Interrogating innovative forms of social involvement to ask how places provide for the needs of people, influences the growth of new types of space. And interdisciplinary relationships, recognising the cultural meanings of place and space, do ultimately stimulate and develop cultural production, participation and urban renewal. Central to such aspirations must be an evolution of current debates surrounding the contested roles of artists and artworks in regeneration processes. By progressing the conversation the intention was to open up new forms of public engagement through the sensitive and confident commissioning of truly exceptional artworks.

Mapping the Future: Public Art in Scotland is a tool for the development of new thinking through the creative exploration of issues and ideas. It is an activist position, contributing to new strategies and motivations for positive social change. It is a series of innovative models of implementation, and it is a delivery that can shape the future. Outcomes of the event will include the articulation of a way forward, and a series of recommendations to inform the development of imaginative and effective approaches to commissioning, policy-making, research and creative practice in Scotland.

DJCAD’s challenge to itself is to position this within a wider international context through the development and dissemination of internationally significant practice and research in contemporary art. PAR+RS’ commitment is to make the ongoing conversation visible, public, and open to challenge as well as inspiration.

Background: People and Places

As with many initiatives, Mapping the Future: Public Art in Scotland stems from conversation between friends and acquaintances; in this case, a conversation that questioned national situations from the perspective of individuals’ own practices, disciplines and remits. All actively involved in the making, commissioning and policy surrounding public art, Edwin Janssen, Graham Fagen and Tracy Mackenna as colleagues at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD); and Ruth Barker as Producer of Public Art Scotland (PAR+RS) recognised the untapped value of the organisations’ collaboration, and the possibility of a new partnership. DJCAD is focussing upon an element of its artistic practice and research to contribute to the national development of public art, as is PAR+RS, an organisation that aims to promote excellence and innovation within public art, whilst also addressing an aspect of its original remit – to work alongside higher education. In Sarah Smith of Creative Scotland we found a champion of the most expansive idea of public realm, committed to supporting and promoting the role that public art can play in society.

The timing of this event coincides with the end of the Scottish Arts Council’s (SAC) 2009-2010 Public Art Plan, a time-limited proposal enabling the development of a strategy to support public art practice, resulting from a SAC review of how it has funded and developed public art, just at the moment when it transforms into a new organisation, Creative Scotland.

Locating the event in Dundee, at DJCAD’s Visual Research Centre (VRC) and Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), reflects the two organisations’ decade-long partnership. Housed within DCA, the VRC promotes and supports practice-led research and in Centrespace, a flexible experimental presentation space, runs a programme of exhibitions and events to bring the results of that research to the public. Interdisciplinary by intent, it is a natural base from which to draw on the cross-disciplinary expertise within the University and its wider location. The city itself is entering a new phase of cultural redevelopment that could see the creation in the River Tay of the Victoria & Albert at Dundee, firmly located within Dundee’s ongoing waterfront development plan.

Professor Tracy Mackenna
Chair of Contemporary Art Practice, DJCAD


For more information and to download the abstracts, please use the link below:

Visit www.vrc.dundee.ac.uk/mapping/