Is it place making or advertising?

Ajith Kuruvilla
2009 Conference

Public art is art which has as its goal a desire to engage with its audiences and to create spaces … within which people can identify themselves, perhaps by creating a renewed reflection on community, on the uses of public spaces or on our behaviour within them ….. policy studies institute summary of the contribution that public art can make to a number of contemporary urban issues; contributing to local distinctiveness; attracting investment; boosting cultural tourism; enhancing land values; creating employment; increasing use of urban spaces and reduced vandalism. ’ (Sharp, Pollock, Paddison, 2005, p. 1003-4)

Public art has become a key factor in rebranding the cities image, where culture is heralded as a force in changing a cities perception. Flagship arts projects play a key role in the re-aestheticism of the city and the builds on the need for culture to be employed as a part of the process for revival. The city’s need for high culture and a marketable brand is being provided by the artist.

If we take the position the goal of public art is to provide place making, then the current production of flagship art projects are about advertising, publicity and marketing and devalues the role of the public art.

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About the author

Ajith Kuruvilla is an architect and urban designer currently based in Melbourne. His interests focus on the formation of identity within the public realm. These interests have encouraged him to explore public projects within the UK and Australia. After graduating from architecture he began his career by working on regeneration projects within Melbourne which helped form his association with the public realm. After moving to the UK his work focused on the role of public funded projects in regeneration of communities. These interests lead to the completion of a post graduate degree in Urban Design where his dissertation concentrated on the role of public art in providing a sense of place.

Recently Ajith has focused on exploring the relationship between artists and local communalities with a number of collaborations on the horizon.