Public art within rural environs: a structured discussion and design symposium.
This weekend saw the commencement of Sculpture in the Landscape at SSW, to explore ideas for the renovation of the Lumsden Sculpture Walk. The weekend encompassed a two-day symposium led by SSW’s Emily Gray in partnership with sculptor Matt Toole and landscape architect Ryan Madson, from Savannah College of Art and Design.
SSW founder Fred Bushe RSA OBE, in partnership with the local council, established the Lumsden Sculpture Walk in 1985. The original aims were to provide a showcase for the work carried out at SSW, to build relationships with the local community and to create a new public space that would establish Lumsden as a cultural destination.
Moving on three decades, SSW is re-addressing the site by looking at what sustainable structures can be put in place to maintain public art collections and how the organisation can work in collaboration with artists and communities to facilitate this.
The aim of the symposium was to bring together landscape architects, designers, anthropologists, artists, and curators in the context of the landscape and the local community, to explore contemporary critical thinking regarding public art, and to consider how outdoor art collections can be relevant to communities and to the development of artistic practice, as well as exploring the expanded field of sculpture and how contemporary visual art practices can interact with the Sculpture Walk and surrounding landscape.
The first day of the symposium was spent discussing the history of the walk, and giving examples of other successful outdoor art installation methods and was to make the most of the surrounding environment. Ginny Hutchison, artist and SSW Assistant Technician, debriefed the group on the heritage of the existing walk, while Ryan and Matt gave presentations surrounding various relevant outdoor sculpture projects, and landscaping design around the idea of the picturesque. The pair, with Emily Gray, then hosted an open discussion during which the group was asked to think about issues surrounding the walk such as ownership, public involvement and benefits, the local environment, sustainability, temporary and permanent art in situ, artist involvement and the use of public spaces.
During the afternoon all the participants of the symposium were asked to take part in a pecha kucha, offering an opportunity to present the different view points present and experiences of those around the table, highlighting personal research or art practices.
During the second day of the symposium, those participating in the symposium were led down to the existing Sculpture Walk to consider the possibilities of regeneration, and the physical possibilities of what can be done to revamp the current walk. In the afternoon everyone gathered for a design charrette, generating a structured plan encompassing all of the possible ways the walk could be built upon and re-developed to achieve the most successful outcome.
Matt and Ryan will continue to engage with SSW over the upcoming weeks as part of a research residency to think of the best future outcomes for the Sculpture Walk. SSW hopes to make substantial yet realistic changes to make the most of the walk currently in existence in the short term, but we look forward to establishing the framework for exciting possibilities in the years to come.