Central Salford, November 2015
A tour for a group of human geography undergraduates from the University of Central Lancashire, which has been turned into a publication. The tour aimed to offer a brief introduction to the historical context and development of public art, and some of the debates, concerns and issues surrounding it, asking questions such as ‘What is public art?’ and ‘What form does it take?’.
The tour took as its starting point the post-war era, widely regarded a time when artworks began to step down from the gallery plinth to be installed in public places and buildings, though many of them used the same form and materials, and relied on the same assumed distance between artwork and viewer, and framework of interpretation, as artworks which might be seen in a traditional institutional setting. It concluded in the present-day. The resulting guide moves from a presentation of object-based artworks to highlighting artworks which are ephemeral, activity and performance-based, and may leave the viewer with little or nothing to look at on a permanent basis, but nonetheless contain the potential to transform the way their participants think about and experience the city, and interact with certain spaces and situations. On its way, the guide takes in artworks which aim to engage with communities and local people, as well as artworks linked with specific places and pieces linked with wider agendas of tourism and regeneration.
The publication also acts as an introduction to an area of Salford which has undergone several phases of development, decline and renewal and is currently undergoing transformation and attempted gentrification at an accelerated pace. It starts at the University of Salford, progressing down the Crescent and Chapel Street. The guide draws on a number of sources, including original interviews undertaken with artists, curators and others involved in public art in the area and published elsewhere, including on the Shrieking Violet blog.
Access the publication at http://issuu.com/natalieroseviolet/docs/salfordcentralpublicarttour.
Image: The Shrieking Violet guide to the public art of central Salford cover, Natalie Bradbury