1 July 2015

Crossovers: Public Art and Studio Practices (2015)

Public art gives the opportunity for artists to work at larger scales and with bigger impacts. A mural on the side of a building has a striking and imposing dimension as opposed to a painting viewed more intimately in an interior space. Within the transition from working in the studio and working outdoors, painters, jewellers, ceramicists and many other practitioners grapple with the challenges of three-dimensionality in their work; and with how their work sits within new or existing public spaces.

The recent impact of street art in and around Perth has brought the role of art in public spaces to the fore for those passing by. The valued role of public art in placemaking is well established and many artists are keen to work in this area.

Most artists maintain a studio as a place where ideas are generated and materials are tested. A studio workplace gives artists the time to explore ideas well before any realisation at full-scale and allows time and space to work through options and possibilities. The concentrated time needed for idea generation is something that can come as a surprise to those outside the creative industries. Artists are skilled at the difficult task of making new connections and putting innovative elements together in order to create original narratives. Sketches, trials and bubbling ideas need working through and even experienced public artists value the time to recharge their practice and develop new directions in the studio.

Many artists see working in public art as an opportunity to take conceptual risks and to see their interests involve audiences outside the white cube of the gallery space. As new artists enter the field of public art, a greater diversity of forms and approaches become available, with the potential of crafting a multiplicity of styles for Perth and Western Australia.

Artist Penny Coss notes that, “Working with others in a collaborative way has enabled me to reassess my work more objectively. I take seriously the placement of my work in a public context and respect the client’s knowledge of the site where the work will be installed.”

By keeping faithful to the ideas and methods that have been honed and perfected in the studio, the quality of public art is kept high. Experienced public artists note that where the artist is involved early on in the public art process, there is a higher likelihood of quality artworks. When there is a level of trust between commissioners and artists it is possible to gain value from input into early creative brainstorming/visualisation of opportunities.

Artist Rick Vermey states, “A well informed and well intentioned commissioning client stands to gain significant insight into an individual’s creative imagination, outside-the-box problem solving and technical innovation… Cultural kudos as a visionary and an enabler can often accrue to the courageous client, for their forward thinking”

Artsource facilitates a wide range of public art projects with government and corporate clients and currently supports 82 studios for artists in Fremantle, Ashfield, East Perth, Midland and North Perth.

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