Andrea Phillips has worked with numerous institutions in the public realm
to address questions about the commissioning of public art. This commenced
with an AHRC-funded research project, Curating Architecture
(2007-08), and in 2009 upon the invitation of a Dutch public art
foundation [SKOR] she co-founded a research project called Actors,
Agents and Attendants (AAA). This comprised public dialogues, expert
meetings, and publications that brought together the expertise of
commissioners, politicians, curators and directors to investigate the role
of art in the shaping of public, social life. The project coincided with
major changes to the Dutch arts funding system, and its activities and
outcomes were widely disseminated and influential in this context. Thus
for example SKOR has changed its shape since 2012, its new approach having
been significantly influenced by the outcomes of Phillips' collaborative
research. Her expertise in this area also led to her co-curating the
public programme of the 2013 Istanbul Biennal on the highly topical issue
of citizen's rights to, and use of, the public sphere. The Biennial was
attended by over 350,000 people including local and national politicians,
commissioners, philanthropists, collectors, artists and curators, many of
whom took part in the public events.
This case study focuses on three areas in relation to the social impact
of art, across the categories of `cultural life' and `public discourse'.
1) Artistic collaborations with non-artistic specialists in order to
generate new interdisciplinary pathways
2) Artistic collaborations with non-artists within a given community or
non-artistic institutional setting in order to create new forms of
3) The sharing of knowledge/skills between either non-artistic
specialists or a non-specialist audience and artists in the production of
a shared task or project.
4) Performance-based practice inside and outside of the gallery
The outward facing nature of this research, then, addresses the way such
work tests the prevailing competences, boundaries and identities of artist
and audience alike. This means researchers are involved with both artistic
and non-artistic funding-bodies and agencies as the basis for work on a
range of critical issues affecting the borders between the art institution
and non-artistic settings and contexts.
The Unit's research is at the centre of changing approaches to the
contemporary art and religious institutions by helping a variety of faith
communities to reflect on
their practices and by influencing public attitudes. The work focuses on 3
areas: the relationship
between nature and spirituality; the spiritual well-being of individuals;
the role of performance and
temporary works of art to increase understanding of religious communities
and sacred spaces.
Our findings have been used in policy documents published by the Church of
commissioning art in churches, in the National Conference of the Pagan
Swedenborg Society and by the Roman Catholic Church in Poland. These
impacts are particularly
relevant in the context of a new UK legal framework placing religious
belief among the protected
characteristics of Equality and Diversity.
Nowhereisland by artist Alex Hartley was a public artwork curated
and produced by Claire Doherty
as part of the Situations public art commissioning programme. This
large-scale touring public
artwork and accompanying online programme of activity enabled over 23,000
(including over 10,000 young people) from 135 countries to reimagine civic
citizenship and to rethink the nature of place, belonging and nationhood
within the context of the
London 2012 Olympiad. As an internationally recognised example of
participatory public art Nowhereisland helped change perceptions
about the nature of public art.
Artists leading in the Public Sphere has generated, inspired and
supported new forms of artistic practice that emerge out of artists
working closely with cultural organisations within research led inquiry.
These approaches confront the need for and the challenges of change, in a
process of mutual support between academics, artists, organisations and
communities to adapt to social environmental change and shifting cultural
values. By re-examining the role of the professional artist as a catalyst
for social change informed by artist activist pedagogies and theories,
these new experimental forms increase collaboration, opening up the
imaginations and sensibilities of individuals and groups.
Derek Matravers' research in aesthetics has contributed to the public
discourse on art by offering a
plausible postmodern definition of `art'. Matravers' definition offers a
way of understanding art that
places the emphasis on reasons, and thus moves beyond the obscurantism
contemporary art. His podcast on the subject, as part of the
PhilosophyBites series, has taken the
topic into public discourse. His work has also influenced the art world.
Matravers participated in a
conceptual art piece, where his ideas on the definition of art were
incorporated into the art piece,
effectively blurring the borders between the philosophy and the object of
Research carried out at the University of Southampton into the social and
intellectual value of conceptual art has been the basis of creative
education and personal development programmes designed for school
children, teachers, young offenders and the general public. Through public
engagement activities run through the University's John Hansard Gallery,
public knowledge and understanding of conceptual art have been deepened.
Research has had a significant impact on 93 young offenders whose
participation in arts-based programmes has resulted in the attainment of
educational qualifications, enhanced employment prospects and a drop in
re-offending. New programmes, co-developed with Southampton Youth
Offending Service, have influenced public policy at local and national
government levels, with impact reach evidenced when they were recognised
by the Ministry of Justice as a model for best practice.
Andrew Burton's practice-based visual arts research, presented through
international public exhibitions, commissions, illustrated lectures,
conference presentations and publications has impacted on international cultural
life and public discourse around the creative intersection
between the worlds of sculpture, ceramics, architecture and craft. This
a) provided opportunities for public audiences to experience unique
artworks which embody and combine an articulation of fine art and craft
sensibilities, methods and skills;
b) stimulated practitioner-led debate around the relationships between
the practices and educational disciplines of sculpture, ceramics,
architecture and craft.
Afterall is a research and publishing organisation founded in 1998 by
Research Fellow Charles
Esche and Professor Mark Lewis at Central Saint Martins, University of the
Arts London (UAL).
Afterall focuses on contemporary art, and its relationship to wider
theoretical, social and political
fields. Researchers associated to Afterall undertake and commission
research, which is
disseminated to an international audience through publications and events.
Afterall impacts on the
cultural sector and an extended audience by providing a platform for
critical and creative
responses to art, curatorial and cultural practice and by shaping
discourse in this area. The
significance and wide reach of this impact is demonstrated through
partnerships and high-profile
cultural events, publication reach, and support from the cultural
Led by Professor John Butler at the School of Art, BIAD/BCU, a programme of research was
embarked upon to create, develop and evaluate a series of models linking artists and their
work with diverse communities under-represented in audiences typically brought into contact
with the visual arts.
The effects of this research have been to make new connections between cultural
providers and to engage diverse audiences with art that they would not normally encounter.
This has, inter alia, re-invigorated the regional art scene, contributed to the regeneration of
areas of Birmingham and extended the cultural offer of the nation's second city. The impact
of these models is recognized by the region's political leaders and celebrated by the public
and artists. The work is acknowledged with substantial and continuing national and other
funding, so far exceeding £2.1m.