Adelaide’s Guildhouse recently hosted a public event that got visual artists, designers and architects talking to each other about the value of public art.
Adelaide’s Guildhouse recently hosted a public event that got visual artists, designers and architects talking to each other about the value of public art. For many visual artists, the topic of public art often makes for highly contentious conversation. The perceived issues are many – lack of funding, too few commissions, uninterested developers – and any proposed solutions don’t seem capable of reconciling long-held frustrations and widespread exasperation. So where to from here? To stop the conversation would be wrong, even though change may seem a long way off. Visual artists need to keep talking and the discussion needs to be broadened to include creative practitioners from other disciplines. The recent Art Changes Places public forum highlighted the need for cross-disciplinary dialogue and debate on the subject. As event organiser, Adelaide’s Guildhouse invited architect Ashley Halliday, curator Lisa Slade and landscape architect James Hayter, along with UniSA’s Interior Architecture Program Director Andrew Wallace as chairperson. Together they discussed the need for art in public places in light of the city’s current redevelopments. It was an open, passionate and refreshingly engaging discussion that both challenged and encouraged the large audience. Each panel member advocated building relationships across disciplines for the best placemaking results to be achieved. This strength-in-numbers attitude is a fundamental building block, yet one that is so often overlooked. The event proved that everyone is on the same side and it was heartening to be reminded of this from creative industries perspective. It should make finding opportunities to include art within the built environment all that much easier, especially with supportive organisations such as Guildhouse on board, providing advocacy and advice to local craftspeople, visual artists and designers. That said, throw into the equation a bit of stealth and some guerrilla tactics, and developers and government will find themselves in a position where they can’t refuse the inclusion of public art in any new or redeveloped project. Although, it’s well worth noting that neither are opposed to public art and, as is more often the case, want to include it; they simply don’t know how. Putting each party in touch with the other and making those invaluable networks and connections cannot be underestimated. In light of the event’s success, creative practitioners from across South Australia will surely be hoping for another event like this one to carry on the pertinent discussion. guildhouse.org.au