Thursday, 16 February 2012

Do we need public sculpture?

A while ago I was asked this question and there are many reasons why I think we need public sculpture. One reason that comes to mind, is public sculpture encourages new thoughts and ideas. And another, public sculpture can provide a small escape from our daily grind. But on the flip side of this one, a public sculpture may also create our daily grind. We need public sculpture to encourage new discussions between people in a community. Once a sculpture is placed in the public arena members of the community begin to question. What is that? Who made it? How did they make it? What does it mean to me? What does it mean to the space and why is it here? How much did it cost and who paid for it? Did I have a say?

In a public arena modern sculpture is often met with resistance. But even works that are not considered to be great by the wider community or works that are even concidered to be failures still have the opportunity to change our way of thinking. For instance the Vault, better known as the Yellow Peril, by Ron Robertson-Swann is an abstract minimalist piece originally built for the Melbourne City Square, installed in May of 1980. Its form was considered unsympathetic to the location and the cost excessive and wasteful. After much public and media uproar, the sculpture was removed approximately 7 months later. The Vault, in the eyes of the public at the time, may very well be considered a failure but it united a government, council, media and community in the question for its worth, its cause and ultimately its removal. And we all know that uniting all of those variables is no mean feat. Uniting a community may be only one reason we need public sculpture, but at Lump we think it sure is a good one to start with.

This image is courtesy of WindsceenCam

Public Sculpture the <i>Vault</i>

Image courtesy of arLi

Sculpture Melbourne

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