Public Art is important to build on what is good in a community and work to change what isn’t.
How important is Public Art?
Artwork in the Public Realm is important for many reasons, one being as a way to build on what is good in a community and working to change what isn’t.
There is a huge amount that has been written by creative academics about ‘art and wellbeing’ and the connection between community, cultural development and health, ecologically sustainability, social inclusion and cultural diversity. Public art and accessible and inclusive creative projects play a big part in creating these positive changes.
One element to this is considering public placemaking which attempts to heighten our positive associations with place and explains why we feel inclined to visit some places and not others. For example, placemaking explains why, you’ll happily take the longer route through the sunny park where your friends hang out, rather than go the quicker way that would mean crossing two roads of busy traffic.
Placemaking relies on the local identity of an area and what is already there. Also, it considers the space as a whole, rather than focusing only on one part.
Sometimes misunderstood, Placemaking should not be a superficial construct. Placemaking should give greater incentives to strengthen community ties in the areas. Instead of always trying to create new culture, great placemaking projects are the ones that strengthen the existing culture, be socially inclusive as well as foster new ties and placemaking possibilities.
In this article we look back at some of our flagship Public Realm projects and how we keep in mind community engagement, placemaking practices and historical significance, when considering projects from planning to implementation stage.
“Placemaking relies on the local identity of an area and what is already there. Also, it considers the space as a whole, rather than focusing only on one part.”
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: CHRISTMAS VISUAL MERCHANDISING DISPLAY AT GPO & THE STRAND SHOPPING CENTRE (CLIENT: JLL & ISPT)
Art Pharmacy put together a festive art strategy for Melbourne’s historic General Post Office, which also extends to the iconic Strand Melbourne retail corridor. The General Post Office (or GPO) is one of Victoria’s oldest public buildings, having been first built in 1859. In 2004 it re-opened as a shopping centre – featuring some of Melbourne’s best retail hot spots.
With these historical elements in mind, we curated two installations within The Strand featuring suspended panels, lush wreaths of silk indigenous blooms, as well as selected products; the works embodying European festive abundance with Australian nature’s summer beauty.
Outside on the facade of the GPO building we curated and installed a large Christmas wreath that follows this theme of Australiana Christmas. Made by hand, by the talented Cecilia Fox, this lush four metre wreath is filled with exquisite Australian silk faux flowers. Using five different native flowers, (Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, Yellow Wattle, two varieties of flowering Gum and Waratah) green foliage was added as a base.
We aimed to unlock the historical charm of the GPO area with cheerful zest: commissioning bespoke artworks and sculptural installations from hand-selected local artists whose works echoed this festive theme.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: ITALIAN STREET LIBRARY INSTALLATION AT FIVE DOCK (CLIENT: CANADA BAY COUNCIL)
Art Pharmacy worked alongside Canada Bay Council to create an Italian-themed street library for Ferragosto: an Italian street festival, in Five Dock, Sydney.
A Street Library is a public home for books, that can be bought and planted in neighbourhood front yards. Neighbours are invited to take and deposit books, lending to a strong sense of local identity and community.
When working on this project we drew heavily from the large Italian community living in the area as 8.2 % identified as Italian in the 2016 census.
Alongside the Italian artist Marta Ferracin, we decided to use the Italian oral storytelling tradition to highlight the heritage of the suburb. Collecting local stories, the artist made recordings in Italian and English that were looped from speakers inside clusters of tall, coloured sculptures.
The setup was designed to encourage people to sit in, interact with, and take a moment of rest in Fred Kelly Place where the speakers stood. With this project, strategic placemaking gave the community a rare moment of rest and reflection.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: CHINESE NEW YEAR ACTIVATION AT SYDNEY’S QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING (CLIENT: IPOH)
For this project Art Pharmacy were asked to create an installation within Sydney’s iconic Queen Victoria Building, to celebrate Chinese New Year – Year of the Rooster. Through research and community consultation we worked to create an artwork that would symbolise the importance of the Rooster within Chinese culture. The result was a unique large-scale installation of a paper rooster that combined the work of innovative Sydney artists, designers and makers.
The QVB Rooster stood underneath the centre’s historic dome, and was over 4 metres high. It was constructed of an elaborate metal framework, with the body hand-wrapped in fine fabrics, and the head, wattle and tail adorned with intricate paper details. The QVB Rooster faced the direction of the sun rise in the east, alluding to the rooster as a sign of dawn and awakening. It was viewable from every level above ground of the QVB building.
The artists’ collaboration in creating the QVB Rooster encapsulates the traits of the tenth animal in the Chinese Zodiac – Hardworking, Resourceful and Talented.
Art Pharmacy is committed to building brighter, happier and collaborative communities through art. With our expertise in the Public Realm we are experts in creating positive outcomes through creative placemaking. Maybe your community is next?