Public Art Forum and Public Art South West
Designs on our environment? Establishing multi-disciplinary working for the public realm
Venue: Arup Offices / No 63 St Thomas Street / Bristol
22nd April 2004
Welcome by Maggie Bolt, Director of Public Art South West
MAGGIE BOLT (DIRECTOR, PUBLIC ART SOUTH WEST): Welcome, it is great to see such a full house today. My name is Maggie Bolt and I am the Director of Public Art South West and we normally hold two regional network meetings a year and on this occasion have combined it with Public Art Forum's regular regional events.
It is a great pleasure to welcome Public Art Forum to the South West and our thanks go to them for collaborating on this event and organising it with us. We would also like to thank Arups for generously hosting and supporting this event, and providing such good surroundings for us to meet.
For those of you new to Public Art South West I am not going to bore you with details now as I have got lots of opportunity to do that later! All I will say is thank you very much for coming. I hope you enjoy the day, the presentations and the debate.
I am now going to hand you over to Emma Larkinson, who is the Director of Public Art Forum who will provide some context to the day's events.
Introduction by Emma Larkinson, Director of Public Art Forum
EMMA LARKINSON (DIRECTOR, PUBLIC ART FORUM): Thanks Maggie and it is great to be here and working with Public Art South West on this event.
Public Art Forum works nationally to promote excellence of practice. Excellence we believe is supported by achieving a greater understanding of public art practice; by understanding of impact in the public realm and having a commitment to professional practice. Public Art demands collaboration and negotiation and it should be embedded into our aspirations for the built environment, and our aspirations for a better public life.
The debate today then is one of crucial importance to achieving those aspirations: How do we support and implement a multi-disciplinary approach to designing and delivering initiatives in the public realm? And I want to thank the speakers who have agreed to contribute today and hopefully stimulate a lively discussion amongst us.
This is one of an ongoing programme of events, our next event will be in October, which brings together four research projects, all concerned with public art, audience, identity and place. If you are interested in receiving information about that please do sign up to PAFs email network via the website (http://www.publicartforum.org.uk) and that will ensure that you will receive notice of all of these events as well as other updates on our research initiatives and publications.
I am going to keep it brief because we have got a very packed day and I am going to hand over to Andrew who will introduce the speakers. Thank you.
Presentation 1: Philip Singleton, Design Advisor, Birmingham City Council
LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PLANNING AND QUALITY
CHAIR OF THE EVENT, ANDREW KELLY: Good morning everybody I am your chair for the day, Andrew Kelly from Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, and could I welcome you to Bristol for this conference.
It is a very packed programme. I know having talked to the speakers over the past few weeks that it is going to be a really excellent day and I think we will move straight onto the first speaker, and that is Philip Singleton, the City Design Advisor for Birmingham City Council.
PHILIP SINGLETON, (DESIGN ADVISOR, BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL), LOCAL GOVERNMENT, PLANNING AND QUALITY:
Thank you Andrew and morning to you all.
I just want to give you a few moments on my background so you know the context from which I come. I am now thoroughly embedded in the Local Authority processes but I am not from that background, I only started in November last year. Previous to that I spent 14 years in practice as an architect, entirely in the private sector. The last two years before starting at Birmingham City Council I was Director of the Architecture Centre for the West Midlands region which was called MADE, which stood for Midlands Architecture and the Designed Environment. So that is my background.
The talk this morning is made up of the context in the city of Birmingham, my team in particular, our operational mode and our aspirations, and then the second half of the talk is visual around the static public art installations, a kind of taster of what has gone on in the city over recent years. So moving swiftly on.
The image being shown is of Future Systems Selfridges and St Martin's church, which was an unacknowledged church but part of the process of the design of the Bullring Centre, which has twenty two million people foot fall through it since September last year ñ shockingly successful, in many ways it has brought a lot of pressure to the city. But the reason why that image has been shown is because I think Birmingham over the last 15 or 20 years has had a renaissance, it has had a huge regeneration in many different ways and a lot of that physically, particularly in the city core. Is really centred around planning led regeneration. It is about having the vision of what we want to do as a city because there is a huge amount of private sector partnership has to come in these days, as we all know, to actually make these things function. So planning led regeneration is very much the background.
The City Design Advisor post is at Assistant Director level in the Planning Department, so I am accountable to the Chief Planning Officer, I thus feel rather marinated in planning already. The job had cross party political support when I went through the interview process, I was very happy to be going for it and even happier obviously to be in the position of taking it.
I put my team at the heart of everything when I talk about Birmingham, but it is useful for you as an audience, because it is a great mixed audience (I have noted from looking at the list this morning), to see on the diagram shown the external relationships and I have put local, national, regional and international here because starting at the ëbig end' Birmingham does think of itself (and has thought about itself for a long time) as a Euro-City but we are beginning to talk about ourselves in terms of a World-City. There are lots of responsibilities that are borne on our shoulders if we do aspire to that kind of status but in terms of a regional competitiveness I think that is where we are at.
The next level down on that diagram is where a lot of our time in the team is set and I will talk a little bit about that later but I won't get heavy about that now, but what happens is the recreation of our places is by project promoters, by the private sector, by investors, by designers, by artists and by NHS Trusts and we try and have an impact on their thinking and their vision before they even select a design team or an architect or maybe an artist, before they actually start investing in the site. If we can have a discussion about those kind of things and help them and enable them to a better design vision (which is where I come from), then that is the right place to start. So it is being proactive, but obviously you will not be surprised to hear that we have to be very reactive because people do not always talk to us in timely manner.
The left hand bubble on the diagram are the partners with which we work, and whichever audience I speak to I realise that there are many on the list that I probably have not included and it has to be by nature rather succinct but those are partners (in a rather loose sense of the word) that we work with. For example with the Arts Council and with CABE, we have quarterly meetings with those organisations, others we have different relationships with.
I will just pick out RegenWM because Dominic is here from the South West. RegenWM is our Regional Centre for Regeneration Excellence which sits alongside AWM, (Advantage West Midlands) which is our RDA for the area, so they are of part of our network. On the right hand side, again for those of you that are interested and for which it matters, we have five strategic directorates now in Birmingham, there is a rationalisation of lots of different officer departments and the directorate, planning is housed in the Development Directorate. What you see here in the Development Directorate is the Eastside Team, which is the team that is delivering a huge new sector of the city which I will talk about later, economic development, urban design, which is a misnomer for the delivery department - the architects department in the city, which is architects, engineers, surveyors and so on that actually deliver, if you like, public buildings largely in the city. I am not responsible for the delivery of that.
It also includes Transportation, which is jolly useful in the context of which we are talking about today. Highways engineers, transport people, the people that actually are designers of the huge proportion of our towns and cities and places. Having an impact and working well with them is something that we need to crack. Housing strategy again, you know renewal of neighbourhoods and all the rest of it, and then we have planning. So within that bubble is the Development Directorate so we cross-work within all those silos ñ I don't like to use that word much.
Along the bottom bubble here there are the other bits of the city that we have an impact on, and I am sure that is not entirely exhaustive, but it gives you a flavour of, for example, learning and culture; this is responsible for the cultural facilities in the city, local services have responsibility for neighbourhood libraries. So how do you create a well designed neighbourhood library in the right place and all the rest of it? We have an impact well beyond our particular realm, which is the Development Directorate.
Right at the base of the list, we obviously have quite a lot of interface with members and I quite often find myself sitting in on the Development Control Committee that meets weekly in Birmingham and advise them on particularly critical schemes or controversial schemes, to try and give them neutral good advice at officer level into that structure.
We have a mission statement. We are at the heart of the planning service, we are trying to drive out mediocrity, we are looking for excellence in future developments. Birmingham has done a lot but we have to raise the bar, we have to do better, we can do better and it is about what you do on the inside and what you do on the outside and I am placed in that interface between the two. At the end of the day it is for the best for the people of Birmingham; we are public servants.
There are 10 of us on the team, we are urban designers. The next slide shows the list of skills and qualifications. I am actually rather more keen on the necessary skills of the team than I am actually of the qualifications, but I will show you both here because communication and advocacy and negotiation are an incredibly important part of what we continuously do daily with a whole host of different constituencies if you like. A lot of the team are dual qualified, I have architects, urban designers, landscape architects, planners and support administration. As I say there are 10 of us so we are looking at the design vision for the future of the city. It is quite a large investment for a public authority to have 10 people. We are not delivering things on the ground as such, physical things; we are part of strategy and negotiation and looking at all of those issues.
The next diagram shows what I call the regular activities. I have come in and mapped out what my team has done. I have landed in the team and they have been there (some of them) for 15 years or more so I try to map out what we do regularly. These are the routine things, we have the Design Review Panel which meets every other week and looks at major critical schemes in the city and we bring in my own team, planning control people so we have a statutory guidance, people from the architects department in the city so we have a very practical guide and we also have a conservation architect from the conservation team that sits on that panel. The whole idea of these processes is that we bring in all of those skills and analysis to projects, pre-application or a post-planning application project that has comes into the city and we try and balance all of those issues to give a coherent and intelligent view of what the issues are and then selected officers will go away and carry on that negotiation on the project.
Planning applications, we have something like 8,000 planning applications into Birmingham per annum at the moment. That is rising presently so it is actually a huge number to be dealing with. I am slightly reluctant to be always talking about numbers in Birmingham because we are the biggest authority, but it is actually about how the quality underpins the quantity as well. Putting the Design Review Panel aside, we are internal consultees on the applications that come through at this point, most of the applications come through the city so we are constantly making comments and going to meetings and negotiating with the external bodies that are putting those in.
Sixty percent of the applications currently are larger and commercial, so forty odd percent are actually domestic; we have an internal householder surgery which deals with how those things are managed.
Major projects, for example what we see here is the proposed new library of Birmingham, the leaf shaped building at the top of the image there, which is a Richard Rogers design and the city park which is the green swathe separating it. In the foreground here, as an example; Countryside Properties have just recently won a tender for this site that we have put together at the edge of Eastside which is this huge 170 hectare development, a new quarter for the City of Birmingham. Obviously when Countryside come to us (they are using Richard Rogers Partnership as architects here) they have transport engineers, they have landscape people, they have various other advisers on their team. What we do with major projects when they are coming through the gestation, (this is a fair way off a planning application being lodged with the city), is to reflect that team on our side of the table. So we from the Development Directorate that I have already talked to you about, will have all of those skills reflecting that on the other side so it is one way in which we ensure the quality, and have an understanding of the scheme. We do understand the commercial imperatives here but the developer equally needs to understand our expectations and vision of the place that we are creating.
Development frameworks, I do not have any snazzy shots of this, but this is where we look at land often in public ownership but not necessarily, and it might be an accumulation of bits of land that actually make a whole area which is ripe then for development and we proactively look at all the issues, look at our policies and look at the distinctive issues around that particular place, of which I list them here. It is all fairly straightforward stuff, but we then have a document which would become supplementary planning guidance for that site and therefore bidders or developers need to adopt and understand all of those things when they are bidding for the site. This is a clear statement of intent from the city and all the information that is necessary is collected together for that particular site, so that is how it works.
Supplementary planning documents ñ we are quite well known for them in Birmingham. ëPlaces for All' is about places and spaces basically and we have ëHigh Places', which is the tall building policy because we do not have many physical assets like docks and rivers and harbours in Birmingham but we have a ridge at the very core of the city and that is where we are trying to encourage a collection of tall buildings to reinforce what we already have there and make it more modest as it drops down the hill from all sides, to reinforce that. So ëHigh Places' for example does take that policy forward and Places for Living has been a very critical document since March 01 because there has been a huge amount of residential development. Whether that is neighbourhood possibly at lower density, or in the city core; where we have had 5,000 apartments built at much higher density. These documents are very importantly objective driven, they are not numerically driven, because traditionally in planning you tended to have guidance that was very easily understood by DC (Development Control) officers. They would say living spaces could only be a minimum of so far apart and when you come to high density residential living in a City core then obviously those kind of things have to be adjusted so we try and set objectives and the objectives then have to be understood and analysed on each particular project.
There is a very broad urban design strategy for the City which was invested in quite a long time ago but I think the world has actually moved on quite a lot since then and we have, for example, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation that have created a document called The Urban Design Compendium and also CABE and others that were behind a document called By Design and they collect a lot of good practice and visual examples of issues that need to be addressed.
In terms of further supplementary planning guidance one of these things we will definitely be doing is called ëLighting Places' which I will talk about and secondly is ëArt Places' because I am quite interested in what a city can do in terms of the objectives around public art, how it is commissioned, the process for commissioning, its execution and then maybe decommissioning. We have some good practice in this area, at officer and at member level. But I think that this also needs itself to interface into a regional context about having agencies which actually assist and develop and promote and train and help enable people to interface with what we might broadly call public art and maybe we can talk about that later on today.
Just sticking with ëLighting Places', we are part of LUCI, which is Lighting Urban Community International and I have just simply pasted in a couple of their web pages here. In fact the next one shows a world map, and it goes to North America, to Africa, to the Middle East and the Far East and a big cluster of cities in Europe as well. In fact Nigel Edmondson who is our expert on public art is also an urban designer in my team, he is over in Germany at a LUCI event at the moment. Looking at some images taken from the website, Lyon is one of the lead cities actually in lighting of cities and places, with further pictures from Montreal, Turin and then to Birmingham. We are not there yet but we are doing quite a large amount of work and in fact the BT Tower, which is the tallest structure in the City which you can see from the M6 (which is the way most people experience Birmingham seemingly) has just been lit recently. The Council House and Town Hall ñ Anthony Gormley's Iron Man is just between the lamp posts, it is quite a tall Corten structure ñ and the Town Hall is a medium sized music venue and the Mail Box which is a large regeneration project, the bridge that connects across quite a wide canal basin at this point with the CBSO rehearsal hall behind. How places work at twilight and at night time is quite important to all of that.
Just briefly, to give you a flavour of the other activities because I always like to think outwards and have a web of interest in all of these things. Eastside I have already mentioned to you as a huge regeneration quarter of the City, is a massive project. £8bn-£10bn worth of building work over the next 10 years so not to be sniffed at and we have just had a draft arts vision done for us by Sam Wilkinson and that is out for consultation at the moment with the developers behind Eastside. We are trying to find funding from various sources to actually have an arts ambassador on the ground who will act with that art strategy as agreed, the arts vision, but also kind of drill down into the detail and try and be coherent and ordered about how all of the developers using their own public artists can orchestrate that together.
I think public art has a huge opportunity actually for Eastside, to make the place coherent and legible, in terms of function, which is something we might debate later, but also about the special cultural presence of that quarter because it could really be quite unique.
Localisation is a huge agenda in Birmingham and I'm not going to dwell on that but it is a massive process that started on the 1 st April. There is a substantial devolution going on from the centre out into the neighbourhoods and frankly some of the neighbourhoods (we are now calling them ëdistricts') in Birmingham are as large as some modest sized towns, so how we look at the centres and how we make those areas appropriately distinctive, and so on, is going to be quite interesting.
Birmingham Young Architects Prize is my idea and it is about one of the things that I think underpins the future design culture in Birmingham, I am going to be launching this in a few months time more officially, I will speak quietly about it today, but it is the idea of architects under 40 actually having a design competition centred in the city and celebrating the top layer of work that comes out of that and we are doing that year on year.
Youth space is something I am really quite on the edge of, it really comes from my old organisation but in Birmingham we are looking at new space, design, using artists and architects in public space.
MADE is my old organisation, which I have mentioned already, and I sit on the board of that.
Other activities, the regional impact. I am a strong believer having worked previously regionally that what we do in the region affects Birmingham and what Birmingham does affects the region, because it is the regional capital, there is a very strong balance there. It is not like the East Midlands where you have Leicester and Nottingham and other places, it is the regional capital. There is a mutual interest in what we do and I understand that and I think the boundaries for us as officers are quite blurred because we do have cross officer meetings with other Local Authorities.
Sustainability is a big word which lots of different meanings, I am trying to map out where Birmingham is at the moment at officer level and politically, seeing what the national agenda is and bringing that back to the built environments perspective.
Housing I have mentioned briefly. You know having an impact on the quality of housing is a huge, huge agenda.
Education, training and learning ñ we train members, we train development control officers with the principle of good urban design which I do not think is subjective, it is very objective. I am also involved with a Government office in the West Midlands talking about tertiary education, about the potential for what I would call ëtraining urbanists' because in a way I almost feel like an honorary planner myself now and act as an urban designer and qualified as an architect. I think the urbanist theme is quite interesting for us and I think how we create the built environment and the artistic and the creative impact into that is something maybe we will talk about later.
Diversity for us in Birmingham is clearly a huge issue and how we properly and appropriately bring ethnicity and diversity into manifestation into the built environment; I would not say I am an expert on that at all, I have still got my radar out on that, but it is clearly an issue and we do need to get it right and we do need to understand it.
Networks are something I am very interested in, certainly from my own background. I am trying to get together a loose collective of UK design advisers that work in Local Authorities.
Public art in Birmingham. I have deliberately put this shot up first actually because, now you might say to me, ìWell Philip there is you first shot of public art, where is the public art?î but in the background, right in the middle of the shot you have these pieces. This is the central square in Brindleyplace and this was a true brownfield site 10 years ago, it was just mud really and some scrappy old buildings and Argent came and created a masterplan; very critical for the success of this place. In a way I think that actually what you see here is artists, you see engineers, you see landscape architects, you see master planners, you see architects, you see people that are experts on fountains and in a way the fountain is a beautiful thing in its own right and there is some real creativity gone on in there.
We were talking on the train on the way down on this theme of creativity in place making I think is a lot of what this is about, and it is about the fusion of skills together making this kind of place. Looking in a little bit more detail, this is the square, also as part of Brindleyplace right outside the Ikon Contemporary Gallery and this is Paul de Monchaux's work and it is a very, very simple water feature. This is private sector maintained, which is a big issue for us in Birmingham. Public space, yes we want it, how do we pay for its proper maintenance when you have 22m people coming into the Bullring that puts a lot of pressure, not least simply in litter terms onto the city and it wears the city down and how do you maintain it? So this is privately maintained, it is very simple, using robust materials and it is surrounded by cherry trees, at this time of the year you get a fantastic setting.
This is a detail of a bronze fountain feature in the middle of Centenary Square which is just a few hundred metres away from the last space and this is another detail of that, it is very popular. Behind it we have this strange piece, (I am a Christian myself) but this is a Christian piece which had a flame burning but I do not think it represents the religious context of this city and the flame has stopped burning. This was done at the millennium, so is that public art or something else?
Staying with water. This is the bottom of Victoria Square, which is my favourite square actually, I think it is incredibly successful. It cost £3m 10 years ago and I think we have had great value in it, but actually as Andrew said, we are being quite frank today, it actually needs probably £300,000 spending on it now because if you look closely it really is wearing out. The private sector generally do not let that happen so we have got an issue there. This is ëFloozy in the Jacuzzi', Birmingham's name for this place.
Duvra Mistry had a big part in the more recent sculpture. We integrated original pieces like Queen Victoria into here. In public space I talk about fast space and slow space ñ fast space where you pass through quite quickly and the steps are appropriately wide. This is part of the slow space at the edge of Victoria Square where people stop and read through all times of the year around this and they are really close to this thing and there is a little detail of the surface texture and the quality of the material there which is quite important.
Gormley's Iron Man outside the Town Hall this listed building is being restored at the moment. The Iron Man is probably going to have to move because the Metro line is going to come right through here so there is an issue about relocation. We are talking to Gormley about that and he is up for it. The quality of the Corten steel, this is beautiful and I touch it when I go past, it is great.
This is a piece by Roderick Tye at the back of the International Convention Centre and this is the battle between the gods and the giants and if you could see the hand at the top of the first shell, there is a shell split in half. It almost becomes an enclosure there, does it become a building? I'm not sure, you know, something to ponder.
Peter Fink's piece is at the gateway to the Square into the Bullring, I am not sure what the drivers were behind that, but at street level they are like flag poles, there is an issue about the function of public art in terms of legibility in cities and using it as part of a master plan.
Talking about marking edges and ways through places, we spend quite a lot of time still talking and doing things in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham and these are pieces that are at the top of the lamp stands. It is quite important that you engage with traffic engineers when you are doing things like this, because sometimes these things need light. Selfridges is actually lit from lamp stands, the blue sheen you get on Selfridges at night, so this is the a part the city has in this kind of arrangement. Let us look at a few more of these.
This is Way Finders gateways into the Jewellery Quarter and then we have Alex Beleschenko's glass in the Jewellery Quarter station, which is a fairly recent station and there is another shot, it is based on time and clocks, which is of course very appropriate for the Jewellery Quarter. Then outside this is Renn & Thacker the Jewellery Quarter station and this piece that sits on top of the information point outside the station. Centro, which is the transport operator for the West Midlands, has 30 of these using different artists, in fact 25 different artists on 30 installations in the city of Birmingham and of course regionally they have a lot more, they are a significant commissioner but again is it an issue of quantity and quality?
In terms of rather intimate small scale work in the Jewellery Quarter, this again is Renn & Thacker. They did some work and it is about the memory of the place as I like to call it, with these really quite small pieces that you see very subtly in the pavement. This is the 1940 bombing of the area and the next one is the opening of the assay office, which is clearly a core part of the area in 1773 and then the artist Laura Potter, who created these things. This is ëCheers to the Crown & Anchor' and then bottle tops sort of set into the piece there and the memory of Victorian nannies passing through the area here.
There is a place for symbolic art if you like because this is the huge bull at one of the main entrances into the central mall of the Bullring and again with great fondness people sit on it, crouch on it, using phones, leaning against it and children rubbing against it, it is pretty successful. The Bullring cost £540m, there as a £1m spent on public art and the sad thing, we were talking on the train down about this, I do not know the artist behind that piece; maybe there is an issue for us there.
I am going to talk a little bit finally now about challenges and problems. This is a piece which was not consulted, we did not know about it and as far as I know it is not even approved from a planning perspective and what is it? Where does this sit in the cultural, ethnic place of Birmingham? I presume it is some corporate firm that have done this piece.
This is interesting, this is model made of a piece that went into the public realm and because it was a model the thickness of the glass is really rather dramatic here but when you have these things that are actually two or three metres high in cubes that are internally lit and have the water showering down the sides of them, they are slightly less successful, less vibrant and a different scale than the model here is. Modelling is good but you do have to get it right.
This is the entrance to the International Convention Centre. This is Ron Haseldon's work, these are of neon bent tubes that create this piece, quite a large piece, in the canopy to the International Convention Centre and this is it today completely unlit. It has not been lit for a long, long time and we have got these plastic sheets now underneath here to stop the glass falling out, so there really is an issue about the longevity, the sustainability and the maintenance of pieces like that for us all frankly. I am being very open with you here, I am showing you some good things but I am also showing you some pretty challenging things.
To close, this is ëForward' by Raymond Mason who was trained in Birmingham and lives and works in Paris and has done some work in Montreal and did a very similar piece in Montreal. He had a retrospective at the City Art Gallery in Birmingham about eight to ten years ago and this piece was put in the middle of Centenary Square, which we mentioned earlier. It is placed on a very, very demanding cross axial place in the middle of this square. It was made of fibreglass. It was about Birmingham's history moving forward.
This is the detail of one of the parts of ëForward' and this was really quite shocking to me because some of you will know what has happened to this sculpture and I will show you in a minute. I looked at this just yesterday and I thought I have got to put that in because it is that ìsharp intake of breathî. This woman is horrified because there is something moving towards her which is going to destroy her and this is what happens next. This is ëForward', this is the view from my office in Alpha Tower, 12 floors up, overlooking Centenary Square. Can you see the axial location, the very set out of the whole thing really does not half give it some magnitude and it was disliked to the extent ñ this was quite an event really in Birmingham but you can see how the fireman are saying ìHey guys, let's not go near it, we will just let it burn to the groundî. This is what Damian Hirst might say was really an happening event after what he said about 9/11, but you know look at the amount of smoke and stuff that came off that one piece there. In a sense a very sad story but actually a very telling story as well and Raymond Mason was, I understand, disinclined to recreate it, so the city has made a decision to relocate a piece from elsewhere onto there.
Anyway, I thought that was an interesting point at which to end. Thank you.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): You talked about setting up an informal group of design advisors in Local Authorities, how many are there?
PHILIP SINGLETON: Ah well I actually do not know, that is one of the reasons why I wanted to set up the group. My team has pre-existed me by 15 years so we have urban designers working in that context but it is the kind of, wrong word but figureheads really of that that I am interested in. There is one in Southampton who I went to see the other day, Richard Rogers obviously works with the Urbanism Unit for London and Barcelona incidentally and Terry Farrell is working in Edinburgh now so some cities are choosing to second in on an occasional basis some key names but I am actually more interested in people that do my job which is the consistent full time post of trying to do the stuff on the ground and comparing notes, the highs and the lows.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Does anybody in here know of a similar position in their own area to Philip? People did not hear that, but that was Plymouth City Council.
Could I once again thank Philip for his contribution there.
Presentation 2: Nayan Kulkarni, Artist
WORKING IN THE PUBLIC REALM IN COLLABORATIVE MULTI-DISCIPLINARY CONTEXTS
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Very quickly I would like to introduce Nayan Kulkarni, who is an artist so he is talking from a very different perspective to the one we have just had. He is going to look at a project on collaborative street space design in Islington, but it will also be a bit wider than that I suspect, so Nayan welcome and we look forward to your talk. Thank you.
NAYAN KULKARNI (ARTIST)
WORKING IN THE PUBLIC REALM IN COLLABORATIVE MUTI-DISCIPLINARY CONTEXTS:
Just a note on my background, I trained in sculpture at undergraduate level at Birmingham School of Art [1990-1993], and then moved onto the Slade [1995-97]. Right from the beginning of my first year at Birmingham I became interested in ideas of site specificity: at that time it was in the context of gallery originated contemporary art practice.
However, since graduating I have become increasingly concerned with how my practice can work with people and places. My time is divided fairly evenly between lecturing at Sheffield Hallam University, an autonomous studio based practice (which I am not going to talk about today) and working with projects that involves, sites, communities and professionals from other disciplines.
In the first bit of the presentation I am just going to state some things that I think are simple and important concepts that underpin the work. That is an outline of what the process is. The process is project and site specific. In other words, I hope that the way of working and the outcome are specific to the site, project and team [sometimes the team in a team of one].
- Site. I considered the site to be: the street that I stand on, the master plan for the whole regeneration scheme, a resident who I have just bumped into on a veranda of one of the flats. In addition to this the team becomes the site of thinking. Individuals personalities, (ideas, strengths and weaknesses etc.) need to be built into the process. Then I too will have a vested interest in the project. I rely on this.
- Collaboration ñ it is great to remember that it is sometime possible that the sum of a project team can become more than the total of the parts. It is always enriching, it might not be enriching until way after one has finished [the project] but it is certainly an enriching process. It is extremely time consuming. I repeatedly surprised how much time is involved; simple conversations are never that simple. This actually impacts on the way that I work in a project. It is emotionally demanding, simply because I have an ego, the people I work with have egos, I have to listen (which I am not always good at doing). It is intellectually demanding, I have to keep rethinking about who am I in the project and what I am contributing and what I am taking away. Communication is always an issue. How am I going to communicate with people who are in meetings? How do I actually make something happen? Am I available to be talked to? How am I going to respond to change?
- Invitation. Design is something that I have been invited to become involved with. I think that it's this invitation that grounds work. It is far easier to proceed in a multi-disciplinary team if it is you they want to work with you [not simply the idea of an artist].
- Vision. I do have a vision and this is the one that I will try to share with you: the vision is to integrate the conception and realisation of socially and spiritually transformative art and design into the specific process of the site. I do believe that art, materials, space and experience transform life.
- Consultation. Consultation and collaboration are processes in the work: they are both performative. I am not interested in working with consultation as a kind of exercise. In the consultation it is the interaction and the tools of communication that are critical to success. The process is again time consuming, it is emotionally demanding. On projects I quite often meet with and have to work with people who have a sole interest. For example, sometimes one has to absorb anger or expectation and then attempt to transform that into practice. Of course it is intellectually challenging, again it is communication led. Sometimes I speak too quickly, often I use the wrong vocabulary for the context. Ultimately I want consultation (and I want the people I work to want this as well) to develop something rather than to show a product. Andrew Siddall [Piper Close, Islington] describes this as a process of designing from the îinside outî.
I am going to focus on Piper Close Islington which is a small part of the Arsenal regeneration. The team is; Project manager Colette Bailey of Metal, Bconsultants architect Andrew Siddall, and myself. We are working for Islington Borough Council with: Islington Borough Council Regeneration Team, the Islington Planning Department and the Ring Cross residents.
The site, okay so there is a master plan describing a zone of regeneration extending from the existing Arsenal Stadium right across to the Caledonian Road. Part of the S106 agreement helped build this [image], which is going to be one of the largest recycling centres in the country. It will serve seven London Boroughs. At present this building defines the boundary of the Ring Cross Residents' Estates and these are the visual messages that one picks up over the last five or six years. [images]
So there are a couple of hundred homes on and around the site: maisonettes, families, some people who have been there for 20 years, some people there are asylum seekers. It's a very mixed community with security issues, servicing issues, well what inner city space doesn't have issues? Some people own them, some people do not, and this space which for the last, (I do not know) say the last 15 years has been a brownsite and the people in the flats there [image] have had a view of Alexandra Palace and then two years ago they [the council] built something to block the view.
On this side of the road there are going to 250 new homes, some shared equity, some housing association [Newlon Housing Association]. There is going to be an office block and some new retail.
Now this is the space that set our project going [image]. This is a kick about space called a football pitch; it has been practice for many years for the young people of the Ringcross Estate to play here. This apparently unloved space provided the first lesson of the site and what specificity means: what something appears to be and what it is and how it functions socially can be completely different things. However, the first plan for the street was rejected in consultation with Ringcross residents. The process had to be revised and that is where Colette Bailey from Metal and Andrew Siddall and I were brought in. At the moment this [football play area] emotionally belongs here [Ringcross Estate]. In two years time there are going to be as many homes on the other side of the street so the ownership issues of this space became pretty critical. It is difficult to imagine what the development will do the space by just looking plans at and pointing at the site.
Our brief was to develop a new proposal for the street design using an arts led consultative/collaborative design process. Our team vision was to develop a collaborative design from the inside out.
250 people, how do I get to meet any of them, how does the team get to work with them? The tenants association seemed to founded on the single issue of the football pitch and the new street space, it has now obviously grown to become a healthy tenants' association but it did need some antagonism to actually polarise a group of three women who were very, very committed to the development and ownership of the Ring Cross Estate.
The first consultation was in a kitchen (an instant onsite meeting). Hanging out at the site was also a simple way of meeting people. However, we also had structured, more formal processes by which we took the community space and the community centre and turned it into a design workshop and this was simply to get us out of the politics of being inside peoples houses.
We had a design open day: image showing Geoff Baker the planning officer for our area of the regeneration and the two women from the Tenants' Association (Caroline and Angie). We printed out an enormous ñ I think it was about 3m long ñ plan of this street. It was a bare empty space and we spent the day designing directly, talking issues. We spoke to young people that use that kick about space [image of three boys with Nayan Kulkarni] When we needed to talk about size we went outside and ran up and down the street to actually establish proportions and feelings. A little chap, on his own, actually drew what he thought the football pitch should look like. It got too complicated to draw flat so we started work with 3D modelling which I will refer to later.
We arranged a design day at Sacred Heart, the local primary school. John Lane the headmaster identified two very enthusiastic teachers in year six and year ten. So we set up two brain-storming sessions in which the teacher, myself and Andrew took responsibility for a different design issues. We rotated around the classroom groups so we dealt with materiality, activity and safety and I got safety ñ Andrew got materials.
This process reinforced ideas we had brought but also gave us ways to think about the way the space could function. Our different approaches just to workshop produced Ö the teachers sheet was extremely well organised. We spent most of the time trying to actually manage a group of kids but nevertheless we got the stuff we needed: and we were ëhoovering', we were there to engage with the ideas that came out of this group of people.
Dealing with issues of safety and security the design group I was with in the year six said they did not want CCTV, they did not want concierge, they did not want security lights because all of those things made them feel at threat. The recommendations were much more about direction, good lighting, clear sightlines; a great set of agendas for us to take to the next design team meeting.
There are these 150 hours of interactive design work, consultation and collaboration. Then we would disappear into, as it happens, my studio where the architect and the artist try to distil what we had learnt. We did this process over months. We were told we cannot use any trees, any green, any planting; you should see what happens on site. There are trees growing through people's windows because they have not been serviced and looked after. However, another group of people said they wanted a notion of something green, something soft so we are looking at hybrid spaces.
Shapes, simply designed in the school and then more detailed drawing, looking at turning lights into sculptural trees. All of this time, I have put down statutory professionals and I don't know really what that means, but the officers that we had to work with. They are informed and involved as much as we can do under the time constraints of the project but Geoff the planner is certainly involved in a very real way, he actually sat down and helped develop the design of the street.
Returning to the issue of the tools. The consultation and the design tools that we use are drawing, speaking, pen and ink (that kind of stuff). In addition we we used an interactive process that Andrew Siddall has developed, using the Quake game engine; Vspace modelling tool (Vspace laboratory workshop). I use a different set of more accurate modelling tools, which is Cinema 4D and we use them both in consultation and design.
So how do you imagine your new community? You are looking out of your flat, well Andrew developed Ö this is using ABKTs proposal for the new flats, and texture mapped them onto a simple a block model. We can go to any single flat in this place and show them what it [the new development and street-scape] looks like but not as an image but as a movement around a space that is somewhere between a game and a model. The first part of the consultation was to actually say well this is what is going to be built. This is what has already got planning permission, directly dealing with the reality of the development process. They [the residents of Ringcross] always knew that these new flats were higher than theirs but they could actually see what the impact would be straight out of their own living room windows? (So that is the existing, that is the new and there is the level change). So we could actually demonstrate the effects of the new buildings through the model and remove fear [turn the unknown into the known] and also start to discuss the issues of that space, that street, your street.
Other kind of modelling, [image] you saw me working with the two young women on a play area or football space, this was the model we developed in about 40 minutes of talking about how to develop a play area that is transparent and secure. It is a very early kind of model but this one we can then use and take to the engineers/planners etc as a dimensionally accurate thing. The Vspace model is growing so when you actually move around the space you see yourself and other in the design partnership inhabiting the street.
Currently we are at stage C, we are doing all those things that you have to do: trying to find out what can we afford, attempting to establishing the actual boundaries, the legal requirements, the S106 , all of this process stuff that is very tiring but essential. I guess and it is evenly split as a responsibility in the team [although I have a feeling that Andrew Siddall is taking the brunt]. Technical feasibility is as much to do with how we integrate it with the Newlon Housing development as with our zone of design. And, because this process has [is] taken so long, from the point where we had a working design to the point where we are going to go to stage C, we are going to refresh and re-invigorate our relationship with the community.
This is what we were given to start off with. This is where the streets are. I will talk through it. At the leading end of the street we have got an enclosed high-tech landmark football general play area moving up through a quieter zone ñ this is the most seen space in the whole street so we are actually trying to make that the space when we are looking at the idea of very young children being able to move out from this rather unseemly space into a more public space and we have also got vehicular access with a series of issues of safety we had to deliver.
We have resolved the car parking, that was one of the big things about the consultation and then we have got a formal green bank space at the more public end of the street. This design could not have come out without the collaboration/consultation, we could have come up a design, but not this design. We did not have these things in our head. My particular interest is in the lighting so this is the light intensity scheme, so this is the first series of sketches that were developed out the conversations. Looking at hot spots and routes, not lighting people but lighting walls. Differentiating between colours of existing sodium street lighting to white halide street lighting. Our budget is modest so we are going to have to be very careful with how we work with that.
To move onto a completely different context of an artist working in a design team. This is the Bristol Broadmead Development. To actually walk into a context and know that I had to deliver is participation in the process. It is a retail led development in Bristol which I am sure a lot of you are aware of, I think it is around £650m as a total investment in the city. I was commissioned to work with [without specific a brief] Chapman Turner Architects, get involved in the planning workshop process and later in the project I became quite involved with Schlegs Bergerman and Partners, a German engineering company.
Entering into this context I was very sceptical of Land Securities Plc, retail led about regeneration, notions of capitalisms, all of the stuff that I am ambivalent even slightly however it has been a pleasure. So there are seven architects, one lead architect (Keith Makinson from Chapman Taylor); the architectural team was from all around the world. The idea that the artist would come in and talk to the architects about colour was clumsy, they are talented and creative people. However, there was one area of the project which I had quickly identified did not have a vision and I woke up with one so I was allowed to run with it, which was to develop and make recommendations for the conception and design of the free floating glazed roof forms that kind of float between the buildings. This is the end of the process of the design collaboration [animation of model].
The process was very simple on this project. There was a research trip where I went out with directors from the stakeholding companies: Land Securities, the lead design of the landscape architect, landscape designer etc. I simply arrived as a kind of rogue element on the project. However, the research trip was to look at other glazed and covered spaces and it was this trip that actually gave me the vision. I was taken on a research trip and unsurprisingly I drew when I was on the research trip, but what it meant that the whole process from directorial level at Land Securities right down to the artist had an energy and a shared understanding of what was possible. We knew what was possible because we had been all round Germany looking at the exciting and innovative roof forms, at a cost obviously, we went to Milan to look at the Galleria there, to actually fire up a whole team of people. I mean one of the people there was involved in CPO but was also part of the initial process.
The planning workshops stimulating, the whole architectural team had come to the Architecture Centre in Bristol and spent six or seven hours with the Planning Committee, actually talking through the issues. That has led me to co-write a book called The Spectacle and Disorientation of Retail Architecture . But the planning workshops actually allowed the whole design team to focus on a series of key issues, as teams.
There was also autonomous work where I was on my own, in the studio, thinking about how do I dream a roof form and how do I imagine a space and through this freedom within a very tight design constitution I was able to look at the way that buildings were connected, for example pedestrian bridges as carpets. This [image of covered landmark bridge] of is going to be a profound optical experience, you are walking into a linking bridge surrounded by dichroic, that is multiple colour refracting mirrors, so the entire external and internal spaces would collapse into a transforming image on the surfaces of the bridge. On the plan there was a concrete bridge with a guard handrail so that kind of freedom to extend thinking was great.
We always had the assumption there would be millions of foot prints as in the Bullring Birmingham and quite often that is the experience in this kind of retail environment, particularly as it is going to be a 24-hour city zone. So seeing lots of people bustling around was one thing but I also had to think about, I want to think about, the one person isolated in a vast retail space.
The project has started. I have been commissioned by Optima Community Association to work collaboratively with two other artists to develop notions of routes and gateways through the existing and new areas of the regeneration. These ideas will be generated out of the context, which is the Optima, which is five estates, 2,000 [approx] people. A development which is about 30% social housing, commercial housing, shared equity housing, Park Central by Birmingham Design Services, the rest of the landscape within that central scheme by Lovejoys and then the other bits, which are the Woodview and Benmore Estates and Five Ways Estates and other estates and another estate up in the middle and somehow the three artists and the arts coordinator have to address this, which is what it is now. The people that live here who have to live with this for the next four years, whose steps do not even work [image].
So the signs are there for a little conflict between of the aspirations of the developer, the different communities, Optima's core social aspirations and our vision as a team of artists. Here is the team. Jorge Orta he is man that can light mountains and buildings, he has got an amazing sense of colour a space, I mean just a joy to even think about working with a guy like this. Lucy Orta, also a transformational, issue led public artist: art, clothing as architecture. Her practice brings people together through its nature and then our arts coordinator, Jayne Bradley that has to guide us through this rather complex process.
I just wanted to make this point that we somehow become their people.
We are at the beginnings of developing community partnerships, this is part of an open workshop day that we did.
- this is George talking to a rather active resident within the Optima Association and his translator.
- An unplanned and unexpected day in a school where they were doing a masking parade.
This is what we are confronted with, the design and art collaboration with the Optima Housing Association, the main developer, the Landscape planners, the City Council (twice really, in different forms).
I shall stop now. Thank you.
Andrew Kelly (Chair): Thank you very much Nayan and Philip. We are scheduled to take a break now and I would like to take that, but there is an hour for discussion this afternoon where we can take up some specific issues, as well as more general issues that will come up from the other two speakers as well as our first two speakers this morning.
We have had so far the perspective from a public authority and from an artist who works with a public authority amongst others. This afternoon we are looking at the work of creating excellence and the publication that has recently been published by Creating Excellent in the South West as well as Maggie Bolt talking about the work that she does.
What I would like to do now is take that break. If I could once again thank Philip and Nayan for the contributions this morning and we will have them back this afternoon. Thank you very much.
Presentation 3: Maggie Bolt, Director of Public
Art South West and
Dominic Murphy, Development Manager, SWRDA
PASW's CURRENT INITIATIVES AND CREATING EXCELLENCE ñ SOUTH WEST REGENERATION CENTRE AND ITS AIMS
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Good afternoon everybody and welcome back to the designs on our environment conference. We have got two speakers before we have the panel session, first we have Maggie Bolt from Public Art South West and Dominic Murphy for Creating Excellence.
I am just going to go straight now into Maggie Bolt from Public Art South West.
MAGGIE BOLT (DIRECTOR, PUBLIC ART SOUTH WEST):
Hello. I notice that the other speakers gave a brief run through of their biography; I don't usually do that, the reasons being that I have just spotted what was written about me leaving my fine art course. I wasn't aware that this would be public knowledge, so now I can't even claim to be a failed artist, as I never even got that far!
Anyway, my background was slightly touching on art school, moving away swiftly into advertising. I left that and went to work with a leading private sector gallery at the time, Nigel Greenwood Gallery. After that I moved into the public sector working for the Scottish Arts Council, where I dealt with the support schemes for individual artists, touring exhibition work, a bit of lecturing and then developing a public art policy for the Scottish Arts Council several years ago. Then I moved to Public Art South West and focused entirely on the whole area of involving artists in change in our built environment.
So today what I am going to be talking about is how Public Art South West promotes the area of multi-disciplinary working philosophy so to speak, and then to briefly touch on some current projects and future plans.
Engaging artists as ëvisual engineers' is a central theme of our work and is why we were so keen to arrange this event in collaboration with PAF ñ so that the debate could be continued and widened.
PASW is a public art development agency. We primarily serve the south west of England, but our work extends beyond geographical boundaries in terms of the critical thinking and application of artists' skills and creativity we promote.
We work with national and regional public and private sectors, and actively network with a range of professions within the areas of culture, design and architecture. Our field of work covers advocacy, training, advice and resources. Our pro-active approach in initiating projects and way of working is underpinned by being able to offer financial support to a range of strategically important projects and regional partners.
A key element of our work is www.publicartonline.org.uk , a unique website and international intellectual resource which provides a research based forum for debate. We pro-actively research projects for our case studies section, which exemplify integrated approaches and collaborative working. The purpose of these case studies is to investigate their aims and look at how these were achieved, what issues and problems arose and most importantly, identify what can be learnt from others' experiences.
We believe that the integration of artists' creativity and skills in to our built and natural environment creates benefits for communities, urban renaissance and business. When the art becomes a recognised component of regeneration, they can encourage personal development, build confidence, skills, and social networks and encourage social cohesion and community empowerment.
Quality of thought and implementation, in terms of design, results in imaginative and exciting places that are fit for purpose, reflect local identity, provide economic benefits and which meet respective communities needs, by engaging them in the cultural process.
We therefore champion multidisciplinary working and promote that the arts and design professions should work together and recognise the mutual benefits this can bring, in terms of delivering high quality environments.
However, we also recognise that this way of working is a specialised areas, and to quote from a paper we have just commissioned for our website on collaboration and what it means, by the artist David Patten, ënot every artist can do this sort of work'.
There are issues about commodification, compromise and whether full integration results in such a blurring of the boundaries that the essence of what an artist is and brings, becomes lost in a corporate sea. There is also growing evidence that the pool of artists wanting and willing to work in this way is getting smaller.
So, is this a direct reaction to the fact that the opportunities being offered to artists aren't the right ones?
Does it mean that artists are turning their backs on projects, which require a team rather than an individual solution?
Or is it the lack of opportunity to gain the necessary skills needed to work in this way? And therefore more help is required in the form of training and skills development. The latter we are already addressing and will be running a course for artists on multidisciplinary working, in September.
But whatever the reason, there is a need to continually assess who is responding and why to opportunities, who is benefiting and most importantly are we moving forward in terms of creative solutions.
However, just because those questions are there, doesn't negate, in my view, that the practice of multidisciplinary working is not still a fruitful goal to pursue It's simply that we mustn't lose focus or become complacent, there is always a need to question current working practices, methods and assumptions.
A couple of years ago, PASW was instrumental in establishing regional research into a strategy for Architecture and the Built Environment in the South West. We worked closely with a range of partners including the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Civic Trust, the South West Regional Development Agency, English Heritage and Government Office South West - and the outcome ëDesigning our Environment ñ towards a better built environment for the South West, (example) has been published by Creating: Excellence. I won't go into further details now, as Dominic will be covering this in his presentation.
A key aspect of that work, and why it was important for us, was the desire to make the integration of artists' skills mainstream within new developments.
The following paragraph from this publication, sums up the partners aspirations in this regard:
ëWe champion an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to design in the environment. We believe it is time to stop thinking in narrow terms or dividing up the roles and responsibilities we have for creating the built environment. To promote a richer mix of talent, we need to encourage greater co-operation between planners, engineers, designer, surveyors, artists and other professionals. The process of creating new spaces and regenerating old ones demands teamworkÖ.we should not miss the opportunity, for example, of including artists and other conceptualisers in design teams as a way of enriching this vision'.
The challenge now is to realise these aspirations within actual projects in the south west and make real this ësea change' in attitude we are looking for.
PASW has also recently commissioned a small and very focused piece of research on the role of artists in regeneration, and took a sample of projects from five local authorities in the south west. Whilst this work is still ongoing, its early findings are re- affirming our belief that the lack of good communication and team briefing is one of the main barriers to the realisation of successful projects. So we intend to investigate how we can extend our current training and continuing professional development programme, to encompass team building amongst different professional disciplines.
Another key project is a major new scheme we are running on behalf of CABE and A&B ñ which is due to be launched in June and run until the end of March 2006.
The purpose of the scheme is to engage artists, public agencies and the private sector in a range of projects that will have a positive impact on the places in which we live. It will bring a new dimension to, and promote wider issues around, the development of a high quality built environment. It will do this by supporting artists to comment on or work within the design, planning and construction sectors in order to influence and create a shared vision for architecture, public space, planning and high quality urban design. It will cover England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The scheme will particularly focus on the areas of Housing, Education and Health.
The Scheme intends to raise the level of debate, change working practices, unlock partnership funding and analyse the benefits of working with artists. Therefore an independent evaluation process will assess projects in receipt of awards in order to evaluate the outcomes. The goal is to produce research with a robust evidential base that will inform future policy and practice.
We are very excited about the potential of this scheme and the fact that it represents an important validation of the role of artists, by the two funding partners.
Our aim at the end of the two years is to have supported a range of exemplars around the UK, which help influence and inform future policy and working practice.
Another big opportunity for promoting this way of working is the emergence of Design South West, which I believe Dominic will enlarge upon, and the establishment of a Devon and Cornwall Design Action Programme Manager, funded by CABE and SWERDA, whose remit is to encourage design quality within local authorities.
We have been very supportive of these initiatives and will work closely with them, not only to ensure that there is a place for artists, but that they also achieve and maintain an equitable profile, in terms of the role artists can play.
So, I hope this brief run through has provided an indication of how we, as a public art development agency is forging constructive partnerships with a range of agencies and organisations.
The time has never been better for proposing new solutions and ways of working in order to achieve the goal of quality living environments which stimulate mentally as well as physically. Central government planning guidance is now full of references to the need to achieve good design and local government is reviewing its role in light of the call for Design Champions and cohesive approaches to the public realm.
Artists can make a significant contribution to this aspiration for quality. And I see our role as one of encouraging those responsible for the creation and regeneration of spaces, to be creative commissioners and provide the opportunities for artists to do just that.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Thank you very much Maggie, we will take questions after the two sessions together.
We are going to move straight onto Dominic Murphy from Creating Excellence. Maggie referred to the publication that Dominic is going to talk about and I will just leave it to Dominic I think to move straight on.
DOMINIC MURPHY (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SWRDA): Thanks very much Andrew.
I will just explain basically what this presentation is about. It is picking up really on some of the stuff that we have heard already and putting it in the South West context. Earlier on in the morning we were told about Regen West Midlands and Creating Excellence is the South West's version of the Centre of Excellence and this presentation is also going to be a bit of a confessional, I need to get a few things off my chest. I have been working in regeneration for about 20 years and the evidence that the Government has compiled quite recently since 2000 is that we have not been doing a very good job and one of the reasons, or the evidence that we have for that, is that we are continually returning to the same neighbourhoods to do more or less the same work with the same communities, more or less on the same themes. So there is a fairly strong piece of circumstantial evidence anyway that this programme called regeneration has not actually been hitting the spots that we wanted it to hit.
The concept of Centres of Excellence - I will not bore you with all the detail but the concept is that part of the reason for that failure (not the whole but part of it) is our failure to invest in the people who have to deliver regeneration ñ and that is paid and unpaid. It is a failure to invest in their skills and knowledge, that is part of the reason. So in a sense this is a good time because the Government is actually saying hang on a minute, we have been doing this wrong, we should be spending some more resources and time on people who are responsible for actually delivering the regeneration of our run down and deprived neighbourhoods so here we go.
The first slide is quite recognisable as Basil Fawlty. I advise the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on regeneration policy and this is how, at the minute, how up to date the Government goes about policy making. We have a thing that actually says SRB123456. What happens is we run a regeneration programme for a while, we then realise it does not work, we thrash it to bits, we chuck it out, call it something else and start again. One thing we are very careful to do is to forget everything we learned. What Basil did not know, Basil did not have a clue how his car worked, it had got him from A to B before but he did not have a clue how that car worked and that is how it has felt for me working for 20 years in this field, particularly the higher up you go and this is where the decisions are made. Very, very little understanding of how the thing works, just very quickly, just by way of illustration.
Here are some of the more or less similar programmes that have been going on, either in very small areas or large areas across the country in the last, well getting on for 40 years now in fact. The GIA were in the 60s, I think they started off. The other thing of course that Government, but not just Government but Local Authorities Ö I have worked for two Local Authorities and I have worked for partnership organisations as well, our temptation is to over simplify what is a really complicated set of problems and that is the tick box, that is the thing that defines how we have gone about regeneration. That is what we want to get away from now, we want to start to understand the sophistication and the complexity of what we are in and it stems again ñ this is a bit of a history lesson (I'm just getting this off my chest really) ñ 80s and 90s managerialism, the idea that actually this regeneration stuff is a science. It is not a science, it is an art, if anything was an art, regeneration is. It is a creative process of itself, this cannot be run by audit.
These are the things that we have had to do. Output, guidance, hardly any knowledge of actually what works, an assumption that the Centre knows best. It is in this context that this new Ö there is this agenda about investing in people, I think it is quite strong and we should not need to have to justify if ever again.
So the focus is on practice basically, so centres of excellence are not about policy making per se at all, they are about the practice, they are about how do we support the people who get paid and unpaid on the ground, the artists, the residents, the children to improve their own neighbourhoods and to gain the expertise and the skills and knowledge actually to make that/get that sustainable regeneration?
Policy, where we are making policy it responds to what we learn out of our practice so it supports and improves practice. That is what policy should do, not constantly revolutionise and change and replace and squash basically, so not the other way round.
Centres of Excellence, the three main areas of work is in knowledge about what does and what does not work and I thought it is really good the presentation this morning talking about things that had not worked, because that is one of the things that has characterised my work over the last 20 years is the pressure on you not to talk about things that have not worked and that have failed. In fact in my own life, I have learned a lot more personally and professionally from things that have not gone well than things that have gone well. We do not tend to reflect when things go right, we are more likely to reflect on things when they go wrong.
The other bits of knowledge you will find, like lots of regeneration practitioners, again when I say regeneration practitioner I mean anybody who works in an areas like in Islington where Nayan's been working, anybody you know. We know there is tons of information out there but all the research we do with people who are supposed to be using it is that it is so unformed, it is so amorphous, there is so much of it but it is very difficult to get hold of, that people are just not using it.
We also stress learning in its wider sense, so Centres of Excellence are not going to be about providing lots of courses, it is much, much, much more about that thing ñ again we heard this morning ñ about networking, about introducing people who maybe do not traditionally talk to one another, to one another's agendas so that we can start to develop a much wider body of knowledge and wider understanding of our work and indeed on Monday, I do not know if any of you have heard of the Egan Review, it has not been particularly high profile but Sir John Egan has been carrying out a review of the skills required to deliver sustainable communities over the last few months and it reported on Monday and one of the things that it said is that we must stop learning in our silos in our professional silos or even in our area silos, we have got to start learning more together and sharing each others thoughts and agendas. So learning in its wider sense.
Skills again, emphasising again the acquisition of skills through experience and through learning, but learning together as well. The other thing that people want (and we will be providing) is advice and support because what we want to avoid is whilst at the same time we want people to have a broader understanding of the context of regeneration and what everybody else does. We are not expecting everyone to be experts in everything, we want to promote excellence and that means that people will be experts right, but what everybody needs access to is those experts. Again in my experience, working mainly in the South West, but also across the country, is the lack of knowledge of who is around who can help you, that is one of the key things that is holding people back at the minute. We are about supporting as well.
The other thing I want to tell you is that certainly in the South West ñ and I think this is something we are going to agree nationally ñ Centres of Excellence should not be great big gargantuan things. There are plenty of learning providers, there is plenty of expertise out there already, CABE, Constructing Excellence, there are plenty of networks already supporting people but what we want to do is to help them to talk to one another and help them to get in touch with the people who need to benefit from them. We want to improve what exists and by so doing raise the quality, again working alongside organisations so that we do not become a ëCamelot of expertise' that everybody looks at and says ìOh we'll never achieve thatî. It is about working alongside the officers in Local Authorities, in Housing Associations, in community organisations rather than becoming a place where all the excellence is done.
There are going to be gaps and we know there are gaps and we have been doing some research recently into that, particularly in the South West but the way we identify those gaps again is not going to be by sitting in Bristol and running a rule over the region or sitting in London, it is by actually working with the practitioners and asking them to identify the gaps. What are the things that are missing that are preventing you from getting your work done?
The last thing we want to do (this is another quality issue here) is raise everybody's expectations above not just the regional but to the national. Again, the idea of national networking to share information across the regions and across cities is something we are promoting through a thing we have just set up called the Excellence Network and we are doing some work around sharing quality standards for Centres of Excellence.
Very quickly now, it is quite a big organisation in terms of its concept but not in terms of its people. We have got five basic elements here:
- Design South West - which was called the Architecture Planning and Built Environment model, that is where we discuss as much of the learning needs as possible that we could start to meet in the region around that issue of design and seeing design in its widest possible context as well;
- Regeneration South West Network ñ this is our way of being in touch with practitioners, it is actually us networking all the networks and again the way we want to go about that is not by us having a list of everybody who does regeneration in the South West. That would take up all of our time, it would take up hundreds of staff time and we would never ever have a list that worked. That is going to work by networking into regional networks and networks that are about the county level. Our deal with the region is that we will ensure that we have really good working relationships with those networks and ensure that they can then cascade down to their members who will then start to tend to be the practitioners in that. We recognise we cannot do that ourselves, and in fact the process of networking is about supporting other networks in the region.
The bottom three I have covered(learning and information and advice), except to say that again when we are delivering learning and when we are delivering information we are going to use existing organisations, we are not going to set up anything ourselves.
The last thing down there is:
- Funding South West ñ one of the biggest issues for anybody who works in regeneration is ìHow are we going to pay for this?î and when we poled hundred of regeneration practitioners in a phone survey last summer and asked them on a list of issues which is the most important issue to you in your work, funding came out way at the top and more particularly the complexity of funding. The fact that different funders have different rules and different application processes and monitoring processes and evaluation processes.
Finally, South West is us bringing together all of those funders in the South West to talk to one another about sharing good practice and about improving the way they do their work. It is not about them deciding to carve up the funding, it is much more about them improving their practice as funders.
The reason we want to work with practitioners, and particularly thinking about design here is to start to demolish some of the myths. Now it is my experience (it is certainly widely held), this is the first line very much when we are doing regeneration, and I know colleagues who have worked with me before, this is one of the things we have to battle against all the time. When money is tight there is an assumption that the first casualty will be design ñ why God only knows ñbecause if money is tight you would have thought that pushes design into an even sharper focus. ìWe have got to get it rightî, you know, but these are the sorts of myths that we are having to dispel at the minute and the only way we can do it is by proving to people that this stuff works.
The other thing is people often consider design (as we heard earlier on) far too late and again remember we are working with people who do not see themselves as built environment people. A lot of them do not see themselves as designers and yet are holding fairly large sums of cash to improve areas, so we must get to these people and get them to understand some of these basic things and indeed that is where the publication Designing our Environment starts to come into its own. Although it is very good that built environment people and designers can get hold of it, the key audience is the people who do not see design as part of their world in terms of life or work. They are the people we have really got to get to because those residents and those decision makers are people who need to understand this process much better.
Who should consider design? All of us. It is not just something that is done my professionals, it is something that can be considered by everybody but we have got to give people the means and the ability and the support to do that, we cannot just tell them to go and do it. Indeed in the past what Government has assumed is all you have got to do is that, all you have got to do is issue guidance and then all of a sudden something will happen. Well that does not work, we have got lots of evidence that that does not work, and we have got to put into place education and learning and information and support and advice to help people to be able to take on this agenda and get people talking and aware that they are not on their own. Sometimes working on some deprived estate, like the last one I worked on in Bristol can feel very lonely. You literally are on your own sometimes in an office and that you have responsibility for delivering this programme, with loads of outputs and all that sort of thing and if you get it wrong it is your neck on the line and all that sort of thing so it is very important for us to get a feeling of togetherness and community in here and we see that very much as our role.
So moving onto what Andrew wants me to talk about, which is the document ñ although all of what I have said before is very relevant to the document actually. This is the purpose of the document really, this is what it is there to do.
It is to promote the benefits of design, raise awareness, that is very, very important. We want to start to help that process by the old rewards and some celebratory events and publications. We already produced a Sustainable Urban Land Use manual with the Local Agenda 21 Group in Bristol and that was actually not just looking at Bristol projects it was looking right across the country at case studies, the sorts of things so that we can fire peoples' imaginations so that when we are talking about ìWe want you to be sustainable in the way you are using up landî, we want to give them some examples of that as well and that is the celebrating excellence bit of it.
Obviously we want to encourage developers as well and allow them in, but you would not believe as we go through the Government funding process how much of a problem that is starting to become. The question of ìOh is this a state aid?î, is offering some training to companies a state aid and therefore something we cannot do. These are the sorts of things we have to overcome actually right at the centre of Government as well because it appears that the machine does not want to actually do some of this work. This book will get more people involved I am sure of it, and I think that through the implementation process and indeed what we have done is we have established a panel chaired by Les Sparks who used to work in Birmingham to implement, to start talking to practitioners about how we can implement all these aspects of the document and in fact one of their meetings is on today, so several people who are at that would have been at this event and send their apologies. That is a process of working actually with the practitioners to start to push some flesh on the bones of this.
I will just quickly run through some of the other things that Design South West are doing. They have produced this document Designing our Environment , which sets a bit of an agenda and they have set up this implementation plan. The other thing that we want to do is rather like the design review process in cities, we want to try and establish something, build on some work that CABE have been doing nationally and also with the Kent Architecture Centre in the South East of England and start to establish a design review panel. Now we have just tendered for that work and so we are just about to start and the idea of this is to recruit some expertise right across the region, which will be people on what we call a ëcall off' contract which will mean they are available a certain number of days per year to come and advise design review panels around the region. That will include recruiting artists and youth workers, all sorts of people who have a view on the design process and then they will be able to use them to supplement local panels which will involve residents and people who have a more local interest in particular schemes.
We are already running some training events and seminars, most recently with the Architecture Centre here, the Design Champions Programme (three seminars) and we want to widen that out quite a lot, I will come back to that briefly later. We are building a website like everyone else is and we also have one architecture centre in the South West and we really do want to try and improve on that and try and create (this is a long term project obviously but) over the coming five years start to create a network of centres that people can visit. Obviously we are doing good practice guides and publications.
Also with CABE we are going to be doing some training for elected members, that is a CABE programme as well, very important that we do not forget the elected members, and that is something that hopefully CABE will be piloting with us in this coming year. There is a specific project in Devon and Cornwall that Mark Pearson from the Architecture Centre here is going to go and run which is concentrating on Plymouth and the Objective One area and it is basically promoting the agenda laid out in Designing our Environment but particularly in Devon and Cornwall acting as a sort of contact point for CABE, so CABE will actually have almost like a little ambassador in Devon and Cornwall and also one of the major objectives of that is to leave a legacy at the end. It is a two year programme, we want to try and leave at the end a built environment or architecture centre in Devon and Cornwall somewhere. That would be, if you like, the legacy of that project and it is quite an exciting programme for Mark to have to concentrate on. We want to link with other learning programmes, that is just an example of two organisations that are running learning programmes at the minute.
The networking project, that is the sort of thing that we are doing, I think I have gone into the networking activity at the minute. We see it as our core activity as a centre, we are basically a network, we are not a big organisation, we are a network and our job is to bring those diverse networks together. Currently this part of our work is actually managed by a voluntary sector umbrella group called South West Forum which is part of the Urban Forum network and that is a really interesting thing because we are asking a voluntary sector organisation to actually arrange the networking of Local Authorities as well, and other public bodies and that is a real challenge for them. It is them working right outside of their box. We have had four events so far, which were like taster events, and the last one was at Eden, it was run by I think Sue Hill from Eden and it was about creativity and regeneration and we got regeneration managers together to show them what they could learn from the creative process and also what creative enterprise can lend to the regeneration process itself and it was an absolutely fantastic day. We got loads of stuff out of it and I think that is another thing we try and show people as well, when we start talking about regeneration as a creative process it becomes far more interesting than if you talk about it as an auditing process which is what it has been for the last 30 years. We have now got a fulltime manager for that so we are really ready to ramp up the activities on that and we are hoping that by this time next year we will be talking about a very active networking project indeed.
We are in the process of securing funding and going through all these hoops about state aids and all of that sort of thing. We are assembling information sources through basically a series of huge databases that people will then be able to search easily. They will be doing that through an organisation called the South West Observatory; most regions will have an observatory. Basically it is a lot of researchers from higher education institutions and other research institutions who compile statistics about the region, around public health, education, planning, environment, business, all of those things, crime ñ all the things that you would expect, the data that you need to be able to do regeneration. We are building those databases at the minute.
We are piloting some courses, we are going to start recruiting some staff once we have got some money and we are going to officially launch in the Autumn. If you want, at the minute, we have already launched our free phone number, which at the minute will just get you through to me and we have registered a website which at the minute is a couple of pages on the RDAs website but over the coming through months you will see that detach itself to become its own discreet site. On that point in keeping with what I have been saying before, this will not be again some great big site you can get lost in, it is mostly going to be something that is showcasing the expertise contained on other websites already existing, so we do not want to duplicate stuff we want to just take people to the best that is available that is on websites that is in the field that they are interested in.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Thank you very much Dominic.
Plenary Session led by Andrew Kelly
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Thank you very much and I now want to move into much wider discussion and to give you the opportunity to ask questions to individual panel members or indeed about more general issues.
I just wanted to kick it off by asking each of the panel members just to talk about the role of the artists in all of this. We have had a presentation about the region, about the developing Centre for Excellence but I would like to know particularly about, first of all perhaps from Philip. This is really set in the context of what Maggie said about it seems that less and less artists want to work within this type of framework, what do you look for when you look to work with artists in your work and what do you look for from Local Authorities when you are trying to develop projects?
PHILIP SINGLETON (DESIGN ADVISOR, BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL): Well firstly I was quite concerned because I did not know that the pool of artists is shrinking, that is acutely disturbing I have to say. I will speak personally about what I think we as a city might expect from artists, because there are more specialist people in my team and then it goes out to the people who are promoting and expecting and seeing that happening if you like. So much of what I see frankly from architects is incredibly bland and not beautiful and very poorly considered and I have talked to George Ferguson (the President of the RIBA) about this and he does not disagree with me. It is the top level of the profession which you are aware of but so much of what actually gets generated ñ not just in neighbourhoods, actually in city cores ñ needs a real stab and sorting out, that is a lot of what we do all the time. I have not yet answered your question but I think what artists can bring, is beauty, is distinctiveness, is challenge, is the memory of place and the combination of all of those things. I also think there are (if I can use the term) kind of functional uses to public art and I know some of you would probably challenge that, as I said in my talk earlier, but I think that there are outcomes ñ not quite outputs but outcomes ñ from that that actually are there for a function. If you have a community installation it is very much embedded in that community but it could be as a visitor, if I go to visit that community I am told to turn right at the sculpture then it becomes purely functional in a legibility over design sense so that is one way of looking at it. My final point though is that I have distilled this down to either two or three words depending whether you join any one of them up and this is very cross silo working mix, but I actually think what this is all about is creative place making and we are, all of us, creative place makers and I think artists are creative place makers, but actually engineers are as well. I mean I personally do not create places but I regard myself as a creative place maker and the artist, the engineer, the other people, the funders, promoters, all the people you can list in your own mind are actually about creative place making. That very theme is what Dominic was just telling us, his take on it is not an output, it is saying it is about creativeness.
NAYAN KULKARNI (ARTIST): I do not know how to answer the question, what do you expect from me, what do I expect from the Local Authority? Pretty much the same I expect with anybody I work with I guess which is clarity, support, a challenge. To actually read proposal documents; it does not happen very often. I have been in a number of projects where a proposal has not been read by the client or the Authority so basic assumptions that are rendered clear in statements have not filtered through in organisations. Then you are confronted by an arts officer that has not really been told the vital piece of information, which is transparent, so that is more to do with communication. The idea of creative place making is just another way as sort of experiential place making and I would completely concur with that, really the central interest for an artist practitioner in the public realm is to transform experience. I mean that should be our goal I think.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Thank you for that, I would like to just bring in Dominic and Maggie on this. Dominic in terms of your Centre of Excellence do you see a role for training artists, in terms of working in a multi-disciplinary way?
DOMINIC MURPHY (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SWRDA): Absolutely, I mean what struck me and has impressed me recently is when talking to people like Maggie and others is that artists can bring a huge amount. When I was a practitioner I understood this better I think, I would have understood better how to use artists in terms of their different perspective on what you are doing in terms of space. My brother is a professional actor basically and one of the training things they use when they are training actors and directors is a director sits with an actor and all the director is allowed to say is the word ëYes' and they have to guide the actor through a performance just using the word ëyes'. They do not have to say ëyes' all the time, it can be when they are timing their ëyes' and all the time the actors must interpret what ëyes' means and it brings out loads of interpretations. This is a methodology that artists are using and we turned that round in Eden and started to say ëwe could use this as a template for doing regeneration as well'. Actually the perceived wisdom amongst regeneration managers is that ëno' is the safe option, when in fact if you try in the artist context, in the drama context using the word ëno' to guide the performance the two people lose contact with one another very, very quickly. In about two minutes they cannot actually communicate and talk because they have run out of ideas, so that word ëno' is not a safe option, it is actually destructive. It actually reduces things, and so it is very much in the way artists go about their work that I find I can borrow from them. The creative process, the perspective that artists have on their world is always going to lend something that you did not necessarily think of.
MAGGIE BOLT (DIRECTOR, PUBLIC ART SOUTH WEST): Well I threw that in saying the pool was shrinking and the reason I said that is because talking with a lot of other people and just being involved in other projects I am aware of the fact that a lot of artists who previously did work collaboratively are starting to pull back and not necessarily go for opportunities, that is a lot to do with the experiences that they have had. Being marginalised, being compromised and finding it is just such a long process that they, at the end of five years, can be the only original team member and every time someone new comes on board they are questioned as to what their role is and they say ìbut you commissioned meî, and so people who have built up a pool of experience ñ and it happens in all sectors ñ are kind of rethinking. I will not go into it now, I think it is a massive issue about what is happening in our arts schools. We are not realising but we are going towards a huge time bomb because what goes on in our schools now compared to in the past - the lack of creative thinking, the lack of courses for the sake of people exploring their own creativity, they are all justified within it being IT based or media based. Pure practice is getting squashed out and there are no visiting lecturers, there is no freshness. We are really running into an issue where we do not ever look for artists coming out of an art school environment. That is another conference, but I think one of the reasons is, because in a strange way we are a victim of our own success because I think that a lot of the early pioneering, advocacy work, of work with artists has been picked up by a whole range of professions. You know, they are intelligent people and they see how more creative thinking can work well. In a way, because that work has been successful that there is still a need to leave room for exploration.
I am experiencing this myself at the moment in a project ñ to let what you think is different come in and not just try and homogenise it and say ìBut we do not do things like that, but yeah keep talking, but no we do not do things like thatî. I think that there is a role, not for training artists because I do not really believe in that, but certainly a role (which I was mentioning earlier) for communication. Really simple things like trust and respect which are really hard to define, where you say why do you want to work with this person? What do you think it is bringing? How are you all going to work and are you all going to agree that there is real parity there? I think that is the key to making things like ëDesigning our Environment' work and ëCreating Excellence'. Yes it is about remuneration and money as well but it is about really being clear as to why the artist comes in. Not because it was a policy, not because someone says we have to, not because it seemed like a good idea, because the other people working with them still do not know why they are there. It is exactly what you say about what you put forward not being read. I think it is about other professions learning and doing training, if you like, as much as the artist. What I think the artist brings is they come into a room and say ìWell why are you saying that is a problem? Why are you saying that will not work? Why do those constraints happen?î and just start that discussion. Slightly shift it and start it from another angle and see where that takes you.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Okay I am going to open it up now for questions.
DAVID HALEY (ECOLOGICAL ARTIST AND RESEARCH FELLOW AT MANCHESTER METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY, FACULTY OF ART & DESIGN): To follow on from the last two comments, I was recently at a regional industrial and commercial waste management conference, which to some might seem like pretty dry stuff, it was very exciting from my point of view. In the breakout sessions that took place afterwards I found myself in a group of seven white middle aged males similar to myself perhaps, and they reflected the different agencies that are concerned with large scale waste management, an important issue if we are wanting to save our species and the planet. However, something that I brought up, which was like the proverbial French kiss at a family reunion was why is it that we keep reverting to linear hierarchical structures to try and meet complex systemic problems and if I might say it is not just about making places nice or something of that sort, it is actually about shifts in attitude and I think that is something that we are trying to do at Manchester Met through a programme called ëArtists as Spatial Planners' so we are trying to go to the core of the issues if you like. Thank you.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Does anyone want to respond to that or shall we just take that as a comment?
MAGGIE BOLT (DIRECTOR, PUBLIC ART SOUTH WEST): Only that I want to find out more about the course.
ALAN STONE (DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL): Just picking up on something that Dominic mentioned earlier about the Egan Review which is about sustainable communities I think are very relevant today and this blockage that was referred to. It sort of talks about the core skills there of the built environment professions being planners, architects and urban designers but then sort of highlights a second group and those include police, educators, health etc and then the third group of the wider public, media, residents but there is not reference to the role of artists at all and this sort of block that was referred to by the previous speaker, this perception of how within the other professions you actually get the message over for integration of artists in association with this.
DOMINIC MURPHY (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SWRDA): I have not read the full Egan Review report yet, it was only out Monday. Can I bring in Emma here?
EMMA LARKINSON (DIRECTOR, PUBLIC ART FORUM): Yeah I think there is one mention of artists within that somewhere within the appendices but I think what is interesting about that is PAF made a response to that review and referred to some of the skills that Nayan was talking about this morning that artists can offer, which are around negotiation, creative thinking, not submitting I suppose to pre-formed or pre-set agendas and answers to particular problems. I think a lot of those specific skills are mentioned within the review but obviously they do not link them up closely to every profession and I think that is what we have to do, to be able to continue to promote artists as having those particular skills. Skills that are needed and perhaps are not obviously linked to artists. So it's a slight move in the right direction but a shame there is not more acknowledgement of a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to working, with a vague notion of sort of working together, which I do not think anybody would disagree with really.
DOMINIC MURPHY (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SWRDA): Can I just butt in there? It does mention artists but only in the context of them being within the wider public group and the point is that, this is the point that Maggie has been making, they do not have the status within that document of being like ëa profession' that is officially part of sustainable communities. They are part of the wider public group that includes also the public Ö this is a way of thinking issue that actually this whole concept that there are people who have a much greater degree of status within this whole debate, it is not very helpful at all. We would want to encourage that by getting people to learn together, so this thing about training is not so much about training artists but having everybody, including artists, working on these problems together is I think a much better approach.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Yes but one of the points of the Egan Review, which is in the news release that I read is the setting up of a National Centre for Sustainable Communities Skills, they need a snappier title, but how would that link with Ö I mean would that be of value in terms of your work? Would you want to be involved with that? How would it work with Creating Excellence and the other centres for excellence?
PHILIP SINGLETON (DESIGN ADVISOR, BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL): Can I say something on this? Egan is learning quite slowly actually because he did the, I think it is called Rethinking Construction four or five years ago and that was very much about the process by which you procure buildings rather than places actually and he missed out the architects largely. We found ourselves quite challenged so you are in quite good company. So he has not got architects on board and the design and creativity in space which was not there before; I mean the guy used to turn out Jaguars. So where we are on this, on this sort of national skills agenda, I think there may be almost two strands to this, and I also have got these papers on my desk not yet read but there is an issue of training for urbanists. As Dominic said getting everybody to train and learn together and I think that is very much about professional learning because we always talk about schools and colleges and them getting it wrong, but actually we have got all the generations. We are dealing with actually doing the stuff so we have got to attack children learning, and university education but also all of the people that will be doing it the next 20 years. Hopefully I will be around a few more years so it affects me as much as those, so I think there is an issue about professions and I would include artists in that. I think sustainable communities are actually bigger than that and I think that is about helping people to be consultees as well as consultants to the people themselves if you see what I am saying so I think there are quite a few big issues there. Whether one national centre is right I am not sure.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Does anybody else want to make a point on this?
DOMINIC MURPHY (DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SWRDA): Just that the last time a national centre was proposed for neighbourhood renewal the Northern regions themselves they were not overly impressed with the idea because I think that one of the issues about sustainable communities and our experience over the last 30 years is that the political gravity is in the South East. If we are to have one it needs to ensure that it does not merely reflect the interest and needs of that part of England and I would suspect that there is quite a lot of suspicion in the Northern regions now about that.
PETER JOHN SMYTHE (PERCY THOMAS): I am an architect, but I would like to challenge an assumption, are we allowed to challenge assumptions?
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Yes.
PETER JOHN SMYTHE (PERCY THOMAS): I think the key assumption I would like to challenge which is I think at the root of the artists problem: everybody wondering what they are doing there. It comes from the Victorians who actually, I think both us and the Germans, defined the fine arts, and they said that there was architecture, painting and sculpture and all the other things people did were not fine arts, they were just ordinary things. I think we think of artists as fine artists and when we talk about artists we mean the artists who are not architects, that is usually what we mean. I suggest that the real problem is that we should not be thinking of that like that at all because actually art is making anything, making shoes, making clothes, the ëart of doing something' that is what it means, an art of making something and when it rises to art it is when what you make is beautiful. So the idea that there are special people who are called artists and that other people who make things are not is corrosive and terrible. Somebody was saying to me that the person who restored the Mappa Mundi, and it was brought into the Victoria and Albert Museum, they did not actually acknowledge the people who had done the restoration, the contractor who had done the restoration. It is that, it is that terrible thing of actually saying that art is a special thing that you do when it should imbue anything you make. One of the awful things about your presentation of Islington ñ nothing about your presentation but what actually happened ñ is that what you were having to do was to make good the complete lack of art in the buildings around you and so the idea that somehow or other it is acceptable to have that situation where there is no art in the buildings and all art has to be put on afterwards is absolutely hopeless. You think of our Medieval parish churches, they absolutely exude art but you cannot tell what is architecture, what is sculpture, what is painting can you, or what is just making the pews or the floor. The making of everything matters and I think we should stop thinking of artists as separate people.
TAMARA KRIKORIAN (DIRECTOR, ARTWORK WALES): Sorry actually I wanted to talk about something else but I will wait for that. I just really want to answer that, because although there was a lot of clapping. I am afraid I sort of fundamentally disagree and I think that actually if you start talking about Medieval architecture and you think about the tradition then of either the Medieval times of the Renaissance there were strict guilds which people used to work in and they learnt their skills and their artistry (if you want to call it such) within those guilds. The architects would have been one lot of people, the stonemasons another, the people who were carving the sculpture, I mean, a cathedral is a complicated structure. The people who were doing the carving must have been a different set of people if you look at the lines within Romanesque sculpture, I mean it is entirely different to the actual construction of the building so I think there has always been a separation. The problem now is perhaps the lack of training in arts schools, the preparation of artists who are coming out of art school for a world which could give them a lot of different possibilities. But to me that is the role of people like ourselves. I represent Cywaith Cymru in Wales, it is people, public art organisations and agencies and public art consultants role to find artists who perhaps have an inkling that they would like to work in this sector. It is our role to actually help them to get into the sector. The idea that somehow, this idea that everybody, that everything that is fine and beautiful is art or whatever is far too general.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): Thank you. I am going to ask Nayan to respond to that.
NAYAN KULKARNI (ARTIST): Just about the art school becoming the focus, it has got quite a lot of attention. As an undergraduate I did not expect to leave my fine art degree with the kind of skills that I have now. We have got 87 graduating at Sheffield in 10 days time, I know them very well as a third year tutor, I would say there are five people that have a potential interest in working in architecture and regeneration ñ a political rather than aesthetic or conceptual interest I suppose. Out of those five, if one out of 85 is involved in regeneration or public art projects that is a success as far as I am concerned from our course and I would anticipate 90% of them being involved in the creative industries, and maybe three or four artists. We have too many students already and to expect us to be able to produce what seems to be required is just not really an arts school issue, it is a cultural industry issue really. I know a lot of undergraduate architects who really are not ready to design much yet.
ANDREW KELLY (CHAIR): We must draw the meeting to a close. Thank you to everybody for coming today and of course, a very big thank you to our contributors, Maggie Bolt, Emma Larkinson, Philip Singleton, Nayan Kulkarni and Dominic Murphy.