Online Professional Practice Seminar: Public Sculpture, Gender, and Sustainability

Supported By

Holly Hendry public art commission
Research Area:
Public Sculpture, Gender, and Sustainability
Research Type:
Seminar, discussion, interviews, case studies
“I find the pressure on artists to be some kind of moral compass for the world, exhausting and concerning… I think the class implications within discussions on sustainability in the wider public realm are not much considered. It is a privilege to be able to think about the future in such a concerted way. I don’t think lots of people, especially with the current cost of living crisis, have the mental space and access to think about the future.” Emma Hart, Artist, London.

We met with four curators and six artists who had all undertaken or are engaged in current large-scale outdoor public art commissions. The participants were aged between 29 and 49, not all were at the start of their careers, but all felt the financial precarity of this moment. Each shared their ideas and experiences and then a chaired conversation was held. Key take-aways were that environmental concerns should not overpower the idea or approach of the artist, that often times, thinking environmentally is a privilege if you are struggling to get work made. Career stability, pay, working conditions, class and mental health are often not catered for or considered; adding Environment before these seemed an affront. The idea that artists have a responsibility to be activists or accountable was felt to be unreasonable and unsustainable for the artists present.

There was extensive conversation around material choices and circular economies. Concern around biennale formats and curators / commissioners not looking locally for talent and the supply chain promotes waste and pressure to travel. Storage is an issue for the sector and building in a plan for the after care and afterlife of the sculpture is important/essential. It was universally suggested that this should be always be discussed and included pre commission.

Art installation on The Line, East London

Online Professional Practice Seminar: Public Sculpture, Gender, and Sustainability.

This event took place on Tuesday September 19th 10:30am – 1pm online.

Participants: 4 Curators, 6 Artists:
Charlotte Booth, Head of Operations & Production, The Line
Sarah Carrington, Head of Strategy & Partnerships, The Line
Rachael Champion, Artist Jodie Carey, Artist
Beth Derbyshire, Artist, MA Course Leader Birmingham University
Holly Hendry, Artist
*Emma Hart, Artist
Claire Mander, The CoLab/The Artists Garden
Ro Robertson, Artist
Lucy Tomlins, Artist and Director, Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre
Chair: Lizzie Neilson, Curator and Director, Pangaea Sculptors’ Centre & Zabludowicz Collection (chair)

Supporting meetings with: with Rana Beguam, Artist; Alison Wilding, Artist; Heath Lowndes and Aoife Fannin, Gallery Climate Coalition.

This event was supported by the British Art Network (BAN). BAN is a Subject Specialist Network supported by Tate and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, with additional public funding provided by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. The Network promotes curatorial research, practice and theory in the field of British Art. Its members include curators, academics, artist-researchers, conservators, producers and programmers at all stages of their professional lives.

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