Art High’s founder, Suzanna Gregg, considers the attraction of public art.
Anthony Gormley’s famous sculpture Angel of the North is celebrating its 20th birthday today, which has caused me to wonder about public art. The Angel, over the last 20 years, has become a significant landmark and tourist attraction, and a part of daily life for the local community. Perhaps we all have a local, somewhat smaller version of this enormous sculpture, which represents the area where we live, and has become part of our own lives?
Another of Gormley’s artworks, nearby where I live, has definitely been embraced by the local community. The figures of Another Place are regularly to be seen dressed up, or decorated with found objects from the beach, and there is more. People are to be seen posing for photographs with them, hugging them, and sitting on their shoulders. This, for me, is exactly what public art should be – engaging, interactive, and embraced by the community.
So what is it about Another Place or Angel of the North that attracts us? What is it that gives us a sense of place, of belonging, and invites us to interact, to participate? Perhaps the outdoor, public location frees us from the do-not-touch attitude and hushed voices of the art gallery, liberating us to engage with these works as part of our ordinary lives. Due to familiarity, maybe we give ourselves permission to draw close and to literally embrace the works. Whatever the reason public art is for our enjoyment, so get out there, find some where you live, and enjoy it.
We would love to hear from you so please leave us a message, sharing your favourite or new-found public art works with us. Thank you.