Got a problem? Maybe art is the solution!
Artists are professional creative problem solvers.
Challenging sites, for example, are inspiring to artists and can lead to exciting outcomes. Artists often spend their time working with leftover spaces, the trickiest sites and minimal resources, all while trying to tell a story and perhaps express deep feelings and thoughts they have been developing over years.
People are usually aware of the issues in their community, whether that community is professional or personal.
Issues such as low company morale or team motivation, problems with your brand and how it is perceived in the workplace, unengaged clients, trouble attracting the best recruits, an awkward corridor, an unsafe laneway, a constantly vandalised space, a community that is feeling frustrated or unheard … the list goes on.
Art can be the solution to your problem! Start by sharing your ideas about the experience you want people to have, or the problem you are trying to solve, rather than describing the exact physical sculpture or mural that you imagine.
For example we recently completed a project for Roads and Maritime Services in Sydney where we covered 56 signal traffic boxes in a printed vinyl wrap. The aim of this project was to brighten up the boxes and to put something aesthetically pleasing into the public space. The project fee came from the RMS ‘graffiti removal’ budget, so another aim was to reduce deliberate damage and graffiti to the boxes. We sourced five local Sydney artists with a diverse range of artistic styles and cultural backgrounds. Each of the five artists was assigned eight to thirteen boxes. Their digital artworks, all original designs by the artists, were printed onto vinyl skins and then installed on the boxes. The result was a win for everyone: the vinyl artwork repels graffiti and vandalism, and the traffic signal boxes now make our streets look colourful.
Another landmark project for Art Pharmacy is ‘Tumbalong’, a permanent public artwork in the Darling Square precinct in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown. Developer Lendlease approached us with a challenging brief: to engage an artist to create a site-specific and culturally relevant artwork with a day and night element. It could not use light in a way that would distract drivers in the passing trams and it had to fit within an existing frame that was ten metres long, three metres high and only 30 centimetres deep. Working closely with our fabrication team, AAP Art Projects, we proposed a 30 square metre light-box artwork, with ornate screening inspired by the delicate traditional Chinese craft of paper cutting. Australian-Chinese artist and designer Chris Yee was selected for his contemporary design that reinterpreted Chinese iconography through a distinctly Australian lens. Yee’s experience as an Australian-Chinese artist and Sydneysider meant that he had a deep connection to the history and significance of the area, from its rightful and traditional ownership by the Gadigal people of the Eora nation to the vibrant melting pot of nationalities that use the area today.
These examples show that there are many ways to make art happen as well as solve a problem.
So why not give art a try on your next project?
This is an edited excerpt from Making Art Matter by Emilya Colliver, Art Pharmacy.