Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 25 Winter 2010 Contents 118 INSITE WINTER
executive director Jude van der Merwe.
"And public art, more than any other
form, has the opportunity to do that for
a large demographic."
"Not everyone has to like it -- or even
understand it," adds public art consultant
Andra Kins. "But to just shrug your
shoulders and say, ' at's ugly' or 'I
don't know what that means' is a very
superficial response. It's about encouraging
people to look a bit deeper into the nature
and purpose of art."
Since the State Government introduced its
Percent for Art Scheme 20 years ago, more
than 700 public artworks have taken shape
around WA. e initiative brings together
the Department of Culture and the Arts and
the Department of Treasury and Finance's
Building Management and Works Division
to see a portion of every dollar spent on new
State buildings go directly to public art.
In 2009, 30 art projects (involving a large
number of pieces) were commissioned under
the scheme, to the tune of $3.7 million. As a
result, we're now seeing a range of artworks
in development for train stations, schools,
freeways and health-care facilities, most
notably the Fiona Stanley Hospital, which
has a proposed art budget of $1.8 million.
From bronze figurines and wooden
carvings to bright steel sculptures and
painted murals, the creative forms in our
public spaces have evolved in distinct and
"During the early days, the pieces had to
serve a purpose -- like a sculptural seat or a
commemorative statue," says local public
artist Stuart Green. "But then government
departments started to realise, 'Hey, art
can actually contribute in a much broader
way -- by enlightening a space and making it
interesting'. e jobs, in turn, became more
sophisticated, giving us greater scope to
explore different ideas."
While talkback radio and internet forums
have revealed some criticism to public art's
funding, saying money could be better spent
on hospital beds or educational resources,
the advantages it has on both a human and
community level shouldn't be overlooked.
" ere's a lot of research overseas to show
public art in schools correlates to higher
attendance and better retention in students,"
says State architect Steve Woodland.
" e fact that every child in every new
school can experience art in the public
arena is great exposure and a nice part of
learning," adds Jude van der Merwe. "Public
art in hospitals is just as important. It can lift
people's spirits, give them an opportunity
to reflect or even distract them from their
worries for a moment."
Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi says public art
also plays a crucial role in energising a city's
urban fabric and making it more appealing.
"Public art helps shape an identity for the
city, which in turn becomes its marketable
brand for interstate and international
tourists," she says.
"It's about enriching spaces with a
sense of flair and giving people a reason to
come here and stay," adds Stuart Green.
"I remember hearing the head of Hewlett
Packard on the radio saying they built their
offices in Melbourne and Sydney because
that's where all the intelligent people are.
Why are they there? Because the city itself
Last year, the State Government ran an
international sculpture competition for a
large-scale work in Forrest Place. Of the 202
ISSUE PUBLIC ART
" ere is a role for art to
challenge the status quo and
to move us forward by getting
people engaged. And public art,
more than any other form, has
the opportunity to do that for a
TOP LEFT Facade
detail by Brian McKay
and Ahmad Abas for
the Armadale Shopping
Centre. TOP RIGHT
Kangaroos, by Joan-Walsh
Smith and Charles Smith,
outside Council House.
LEFT Heart, by Stuart
Green, on Newcastle
Eliza Statue, by Tony
Jones and Ben Jones,
on Mounts Bay Road.
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