What is the role of public art and the public artist in 2020? Can public art improve the public realm, create a sense of place, represent culture?
In the midst of the recent election, and with Brexit on the horizon, these are unusual times. This panel discussion will discuss public art in 2020 from a variety of perspectives, examining the role of the artist, the logistics of the commissioning process, the role of art in placemaking, and the challenges of working with a variety of organisations and stakeholders to install a piece of public art.
The panel discussion, chaired by Director of the Royal Society of Sculptors Caroline Worthington, will include Hala El Akl, Director, PLP Architecture and Chair of ULI’s Urban Art Forum, Bill Price, Director, WSP, and artist Conrad Shawcross RA.
Caroline Worthington has worked with artists throughout her career as a curator. She brings a wealth of experience gained while leading two independent, non-profit organisations. As Chief Executive of Bexley Heritage Trust for six years, she ran two historic houses and introduced a contemporary art programme, featuring the work of artists including Gavin Turk, Laura Ford, and Joana Vasconcelos among others. Prior to that she was the Director of the Florence Nightingale Museum on London’s South Bank, where she raised funds and oversaw a complete redesign and re-launch in 2010.
Hala El Akl is a Director at PLP Architecture and Founding Director of PLP Labs. With ten years’ experience covering the full spectrum of typologies as an architect and urbanist at PLP, she helps drive the studio’s deep-rooted passion for innovation. Hala directs teams on commercial, life-science, residential, retail and master planning projects across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. At PLP Labs, she leads teams exploring new ideas for future cities. Hala also gives direction to the industry as Chair of the Young Leader’s Group for ULI Europe and the Chair of the Urban Art Forum for ULI UK.
Imbued with an appearance of scientific rationality, Conrad Shawcross’ RA (b. 1977) sculptures explore subjects that lie on the borders of geometry and philosophy, physics and metaphysics. Inspired by different technologies, the artist's structures may retain in appearance the authority of machines - yet, they remain enigmatic, filled with paradox and wonder. Some have an absurdist melancholy feel, while others tend to the sublime, substituting the purely functional for phenomenological experience. In his work, Shawcross has paid tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts, and considered specific moments or figures from the past. In the end, Shawcross’ art questions what we take for granted and encourages us to see beyond the physical.
Bill Price is a director at WSP and worked on the Shard at London Bridge from the earliest stages of design development to completion in 2015. Currently Bill is leading a range of rail air rights, station and overbuild solutions in London and internationally. Bill developed the engineering and transport strategy for the Paddington Square development and is also Project Director for the proposed Chelsea FC stadium which requires 500m of rail decking.Bill has responsibility for the WSP UK strategic growth function which involves driving connectivity and knowledge sharing across property and infrastructure disciplines in the UK and internationally.
Image courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
Photo © Richard Ivey