Those involved in the commissions at art.tm describe an effective collaborative process which was supportive and creative and which resulted in work which met the aspirations of the commissioner. The Director of art.tm, the architects and the artists all mention the important role played by The Edward Marshall Trust, beyond providing financial support, in the areas of administration, liaison and press and PR which ensured the project's success and high profile. Responsibilities for project management of the commissions were divided between the three members of the project team, capitalising on their different strengths, and supported by understanding and trust between them.
Adam Sutherland, then Director of art.tm
The commissions achieved exactly what was intended:
- To create an idiosyncratic building relevant to the Highlands and its culture
- To present an example of contemporary design
- To identify the building and the activities and work it promotes from the street
- To promote the Highlands further afield
- To promote the designers
- To realise the commissions within budget.
The Director comments that the influence of the building in Inverness was very noticeable, and that the high level of press and media coverage and the prestigious awards attracted by the commissions successfully promoted both the Highlands and the individual artists.
The Edward Marshall Trust
The Trust ascribes the success of the project to:
- Thorough preparation
- A strong team of artists, a mixture of experienced with less experienced
- Clarity of the management and transparency of communication
- Involvement of all parties, including the artists, all the way through
- The commitment of all parties
- The Trust's ability as an independent project manager to troubleshoot and ensure a constant flow of information and communication between all parties, as well as raise further funds/sponsorship and handle press/PR
After the success of the art.tm commissions, the Edward Marshall Trust is using the same collaborative method in its current award project with the Earth Centre.
Sutherland Hussey, Architects
The architects commented that:
- The honesty and clarity about issues, both within the project team and with the artists, enabled difficulties to be overcome in a positive way.
- The architects' own relaxed attitude to the space they were working on, and to the inclusion of artists in helping to shape it, was an advantage
- The process of discussion with the artists as they developed their ideas was an enriching two way process
- The architects were able to contribute a very specific focus in the artists' briefs on the function and visual/aesthetic issues of commissions
The architects managed the practical aspects and installation of the commissions, on top of managing the building construction itself. It was a time consuming role for which there was a tight time schedule and its importance should have been recognised with an additional fee. Ideally it should have been taken on by someone who had an overview of the financial and practical details.
The artists' responses included:
- All enjoyed the team building meeting and the open process
- All commented on the excellent role performed by the Trust in co-ordinating all the players and keeping everyone talking to each other
- All enjoyed the challenges presented by the particular nature of the commissions, responding to the architects' colour schemes and bearing in mind each others' proposals - these made it harder but more satisfying
- The meeting with the Director and the architects on site in Inverness was useful in understanding what they were looking for
- The idea that there were three people to satisfy (art.tm, architects and Edward Marshall Trust) was scary at the start
- Artists trained in design fields were more confident about presenting their work and talking to the architects than those trained in fine art disciplines
- The creative selection process and the commissioners' confidence in the artists and their ability to make things, were welcomed
- There was a reasonable length of time between the original selection process and the final delivery date
- Sometimes artists want to give more to a project than the budget and time scale allows. This matter needs to be resolved with the commissioners.
© Copyright Joanna Morland 2000