1. It doesn’t have to look like public art.
Thee days of bronze heroes and roundabout baubles are
numbered. Public art can take any form or mode of encounter.
Be prepared to be surprised, delighted, even unnerved.
2. It’s not forever.
Artists are shaking up the life expectancy of public artworks.
Places don’t remain still and unchanged, so why should public
3. Don’t make it for a community. Create a community.
Be wary of predefining an audience. As Brian Eno once said,
“sometimes the strongest single importance of a work of art is
the celebration of some kind of temporary community.”
4.Create space for the unplanned.
Commissioning public art is not a simple design-and-build
process. Artworks arrive through a series of accidents, failures
and experiments and open up the potential for unforeseen
things to happen.
5. Withdraw from the cultural arms race.
Towns and cities across the world are locked into a
one-size-fits-all style of public art. In a culture of globalized
brands and clone towns, we hanker after authentic, distinctive
places. If we are place-making, then let’s make unusual places.
6. Demand more than fireworks.
Believe in the quiet, unexpected encounter as much as the
magic of the mass spectacle. It’s often in the silence of a
solitary moment, rather than the exhilaration of whizzes and
bangs, that transformation occurs.
7. Don’t embellish. Interrupt.
We need smart urban design, uplifting street lighting and
landmark buildings, but public art can do so much more than
decorate. Interruptions to our surroundings or everyday
activities can open our eyes to new possibilities.
8. Share ownership freely, but authorship wisely.
Public art is of the people and made with the people, but not
always by the people. Artists are skilled creative thinkers as
well as makers, trust their judgment, follow their lead and
invest in their process.
9. Welcome outsiders.
Outsiders challenge our assumptions about what we believe to
be true of a place. Embrace the opportunity to see through an
10. Don’t waste time on definitions.
Is it sculpture? Is it visual art? Is it performance? Who cares.
There are more important questions to ask. Does it move you?
Does it shake up your perceptions of the world around you, or
your backyard? Does it make you curious to see more?
11. Suspend your disbelief.
Art gives us the chance to imagine alternative ways of living,
to disappear down rabbit holes, to live for a moment in a
different world. Local specifics might have been the stepping
off point – but public art is not a history lesson. Be prepared
that it might not always tell the truth.
12. Get lost.
Public art is neither a destination nor a way-finder. Artists
encourage us to follow them down unexpected paths as a
work unfolds. Surrender the guidebook, get off the art trail
and step into unfamiliar territory.