Public Art Brief

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As part of my Context of Practice module, I have been asked to create a proposal for a piece of public art that would be situated in Millennium Square in Leeds city centre. The piece must fall into one of these categories:  permanent art, temporary art or an event/performance. It also must somehow provoke thought. Luckily, costing is limited however if we do choose to create an expensive piece then the cost must be justified.

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After visiting the site and observing the people and surroundings I came up with a few initial ideas. Most of my ideas related the fact that so many use Millennium Square as a thoroughfare but hardly any stop, or even look around or away from their destination.

My first idea was a piece that would somehow document footsteps across the square; this could be a temporary piece such as a giant sand pit or a more permanent piece such as a concrete cast or metal cut out footsteps set into the floor. This could show the footfall over an hour, day, week, etc and could have names stamped/cast into the footsteps of the person.

Another idea was to somehow document people’s journeys to or from the square. For example, screens could be placed around the square and people could send videos or photos of them coming from their homes/going to their destinations which could be shown around the square. I think that this would have to be a temporary piece as it would be expensive for the screens and also someone to curate/control the content of them. It would also rely heavily on audience interaction and this could lead to a less successful project if people did not engage well. It would also alienate those without access to cameras/smartphones or the internet.

I also had the idea to create a large sculpture in the centre of the square as there are sculptures and trees around the edge but nothing in the centre. I came up with the idea of a large, metal message tree which would have branches which hung low enough for people somehow to attach notes and message to them. The health and safety restrictions for this would probably cause the sculpture to be different to how I imagined it. Also, it would have to be temporary as the square is often used for markets, fairs and other public events which need the entire space.

Another idea was a vending machine of surprises. The concept would be that local business, companies and organisations would donate ‘surprises’ such as local gig tickets, vouchers for transport, a meal at a restaurant and other tickets/vouchers for ‘local experiences’. These would then be placed into the vending machine and people would give a donation and then be allowed to select a random ‘surprise’. This would promote local businesses and would give underprivileged families the chance to have cheap days out. In addition, the money donated could be put back into the local community and local charities. The maintenance of this project could be expensive and would take a lot of involvement with local businesses who may or may not wish to participate. Also, I was unsure whether I have stepped away from the ‘public art’ theme and more into the ‘public engagement’ field.

Another idea which I have decided to research more into and develop is an ‘impossible maze’. I am beginning to do research into whether the ‘maze’ could be in the typical form of a labyrinth or whether I could other ways to distract people from their direct route across the square.

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