Showcasing artwork and innovation in public places has always been an example of a community with high culture. Cultural pursuits are an intrinsic part of community growth, and showcasing the work of local creatives can serve as a source of pride for the local community.
Further, it shows that we as a community care about art and innovation and want to remind both visitors and each other of that fact. It builds visible links within the community, and shows that we wholeheartedly want to support local talent.
If you’ve not seen the art installation in Boscombe pictured above you’re missing out. It’s a fantastic piece of artwork across the side of two shipping containers. The innovative use of the containers for display is something we really like, because innovation truly is the heart and soul of all the creative disciplines, and should be encouraged at all times.
When it comes to public art installations there are a few concepts we want to consider; visibility, changeability, mobility and saleability.
Installations need to be visible, which they almost always are when newly installed. They’re fresh, they catch the eye and people pay attention to them. If, however, installations don’t have changeability their visibility will decline over time because they become habitual. People become accustomed to them and pay them no notice.
If installations have low or no mobility, such as wall murals, they can stagnate the process of showcasing new public installations because they take up valuable space. Further, a potential buyer would be put off a purchase if there was no way to move the installation to their desired location.
Now we appreciate that not all art installations are created with a view to being sold, however if the artist is willing to sell but there is no easy way to get the artwork to the buyer it’s game over.
Public display cases to the rescue
In our opinion, public display cases seem like the most sensible solution to this conundrum. The cases themselves are fixed in their locations, but the installations inside of them can change as often as we want them to. This method of displaying public art installations meets all four of the requirements we mentioned above.
Innovation is a constant. New things are designed and created everyday, so we need to maximise the utilisation of the spaces we designate to showcase them.
There are many creatives within our community across a broad spectrum of fields and disciplines. We have artists, sculptors, fashion designers, metalworkers, carpenters, up-cyclers, furniture designers. We should provide space for all types of art, innovation and creative design to be showcased, so that we can broadcast the range of talent amongst our residents.
Due to the strong changeability aspects of public display cases, well timed displays of installations can be organised to coincide with all kinds of local, national and global events, festivals and celebrations very easily.
Easy public showcasing of artwork, innovation and creative design is a very good way of generating sales leads for creatives. It serves as a great advertising opportunity for their talents and especially the variety in their work.
A dedicated organisation, such as BEAF, or perhaps a department of the council itself could act as an optional sales liaison on behalf of creatives to help them sell their works, thereby increasing their sales and revenue.
Where to place display cases
It makes sense to locate the majority of display cases in areas with high footfall. Historically this would be high-streets, but as more and more people are engaging in health-consciousness and wellbeing public parks would also be a very good location.
On the beach front, and along active travel routes would also be very good locations. These display cases could also be utilised along pathways with no street lighting to provide a small amount at night time to improve safety in those areas.
How to design them
We came up with two designs for display cases that we think would fit well. We need to be aware that we’re potentially dealing with both 2D and 3D installations, so we need to cover our bases.
Our example 2D design is perfect for standard artwork and would have an industry standard size (2440mm x 1220mm). This is the standard size for plasterboard, ply board and OSB in the building industry. By utilising this size, installations that are sold can be easily applied directly to walls in homes and offices.
It has a small footprint, is designed to allow for two installations at the same time, front and back, and would have a transparent glass or polymer casing around the installations to protect them from weather and vandalism. It would also make sense to apply an anti-graffiti laminate on them, and also a silicon anti-adhesive so flyers and posters don’t damage their appearance.
Our 3D design (dubbed the ‘circus tent’ by Ellie at BU Sustainability — we see what you did there), is designed to handle installations that need a bit of room. As we mentioned earlier, fashion designers, sculptors, up-cyclers and furniture designers could all utilise a space like this for their work.
Our example is circular (or cylindrical if you want to be pedantic), but square and rectangular versions would be equally good, and in some situations even better.
We stuck some solar panels/tiles on the roof so that it could probably power its own lighting, just about. It could have a battery to store energy in its roof space, or perhaps even in its base with a slight design variation.
We also stuck an antenna on the top as a suggestive enhancement to serve as an opportunity to expand the BCP SmartPlace free public Wi-Fi initiative.
This kind of concept would be a fantastic addition to the BCP. It could provide residents with another reason to take a walk through a park or along a street, because they might just see something different. As with the pictures above, display cases could be grouped together in under-utilised public spaces and serve as new focal points for community integration.
If you’d like to talk about this idea with us, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions about it.