The first project I delivered in the public realm was the Dialogue Project in Bristol, as a Director of Independent Artists Network (IAN). Dialogue delivered in empty buildings, warehouses, flower stalls, ferry boats and underneath bridges. IAN went on to work in Bristol area for several years, working with all the key players in the city – Watershed, Arnolfini, Bristol City Council, UWE etc. Public engagement and consultation was all part of that process, as was evaluation and documentation.
Following IAN, I was employed as Project Assistant to Claire Doherty of Situations on the Thinking of the Outside Project. Using empty buildings in the city centre, we delivered some ambitious works, including installing a cinema in an old market hall at St Nicholas Market, complete with cinemas seats, carpets and drapes, and a video installation in a grade I listed building, part of the Bristol castle on Castle Park.
My next role in the public realm was as Producer for the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, where I honed my awareness of health and safety (blue light meetings) and environmental awareness, alongside the specific challenges of delivering permanent artworks outdoors in unprotected spaces. We commissioned events, temporary works and permanent works for the trail and worked closely with Forestry Commission to submit and achieve planning permission for permanent works.
Working on the contract to tour Aeolus with, and by, Luke Jerram demanded awareness of conservation in both the built environment and the natural. We worked together with two Universities – Salford and Southampton – and our host partners – to ensure the artwork was engineered and installed safely in three key locations – outside the BBC on Salford Quays, in a wildflower meadow at The Eden Project and at National Trust Property on a veranda at Lyme Park. Manoeuvring ten tons of steel into place at all three locations took a skilled team and some careful thinking.
More recently I have worked on temporary works more often than permanent, but they often have the same limitations and licensing requirements. I was the Producer for ExLab in Dorset, presenting as part of London2012. ExLab was a county-wide scattered-site exhibition of temporary works, sited on headlands in Coastwatch Towers and National Trust barns; on Hive Beach; Durlston House and other locations.
Since then I’ve delivered the Bideford Black Project for The Burton in Bridport and various other events and temporary works, including another with Luke Jerram, Withdrawn, a number of huge fishing boats installed in Leigh Woods, as part of the Bristol Green City programme. Straddling land owned by National Trust and Forestry Commission, the partnership working was complex but achieved. Withdrawn was a temporary work but still required planning permission and compliance with playground legislation.