What do you feel when you see a statue to some historical figure you’ve kinda heard of but don’t really know anything about? Do you think… “It’s just there. It’s always been there, so let it be there”? Do you think… “Who is that? I’m going to find out about that right now. Now, where’s my Wikipedia…?” Do you think… “Whoever it is, it means nothing to me. I wish there was something there I could feel something positive about”.
Well… strangely enough now we’ve got a chance to say what we think about public art in our city. We’re not talking about private exhibitions, shows, gigs, festivals, that’s one thing, But what about the art that’s out there in the public spaces. Statues. Outdoor installations. Spaces in parks. How do we, as a city, feel about that stuff? We saw last year, particularly in Bristol, that historic statues can be… problematic. How do we deal with those subjects and feelings? Remember the Mary Wollstonecraft sculpture that was unveiled in London in November?
Brighton’s an arty city, a creative city. It’s one of the reasons we’re here. The public art should reflect that – and now’s a chance to make that happen.
The Brighton based arts charity Lighthouse has launched an online public survey and series of short films under the banner “Let’s Talk Public Art” to encourage us to say what we think about public art in the city.
“Public art can provoke intensely divided public opinion, as we have seen recently with historic statues being removed because of their connections to slavery. These short films feature discussion points such as heritage, inclusion, sustainability and wellbeing so we can delve into how people feel about public art” says Alli Beddoes, Lighthouse CEO & Artistic Director.
Places & Spaces with Matt Adams – Blast Theory and Atif Choudhury – Diversity & Ability An exploration of what and where the spaces and places can be for public art. It should be more than standalone works in the public realm, they should be integral to the ways in which we experience and understand our city.
A Green City with Ami Rae – Onca Gallery and Claire Potter – Claire Potter Design What doers it mean to be green – and can you green the city through public art. Brighton & Hove aims to be carbon neutral by 2030 – how can public art support this?
Wellbeing with Elsa Monteith – Writer & Artist and Emma Frankland – Artist What does public art mean for our sense of identity and belonging? How can it help us connect and care?
Heritage with Judith Ricketts, Artist and E J Scott, Historian & Curator What is a successful piece of artwork that celebrates heritage in our city? How can public art hold onto the past without erasing it but use it to be informed and carve out a better future for the next generation?
Connectivity & Community with Amartey Golding – Artist and Bobby Brown – Music Producer & Careworker, Hangleton & Knoll A film discussion of the ways commissioning public art can connect to community groups in the city.
There’s an event – online, natch – called Let’s Talk Public Art – Digital Campfire(10am to 12 noon, Fri 5 February) which might be interesting. To join, take part in the survey, watch the films or register for the event visit: lighthouse.org.uk/events/lets-talk-about-public-art