Art in public

Art in the public realm

Together, the Liverpool Biennial and researchers from LJMU’s Liverpool School of Art and Design (LSAD) are working to extend the opportunities for local communities to participate in public art projects and improve the opportunities to talk about and share experiences of contemporary visual art.

The Liverpool Biennial is the largest international contemporary art festival in the UK. While each festival attracts nearly 700,000 visitors to the city, the Biennial is committed to encouraging Liverpool residents to rediscover the city in newly commissioned artworks and projects presented in diverse locations. Researchers from LSAD have been instrumental in mediating the impact of the Biennial on the cultural life of the city, inspiring people to engage with art.

Researchers have created community-responsive arts programmes designed to assist audiences to develop their appreciation and understanding of contemporary visual art. One example is the Hope Street Project interactive sound and light installation which linked the towers of Liverpool’s two cathedrals with two lasers: one visible during hours of darkness and the second an invisible beam carrying the voices of around 650 local participants, relayed between the two buildings during the 2008 Biennial. The Hope Street Project became a nocturnal landmark during Liverpool’s European City of Culture celebrations and was affectionately known in Liverpool as ‘God’s Washing Line’. It featured extensively in the local press, radio and television. Many thousands of people saw the installation and visited the two Cathedrals to experience the sound installations.

Biennial and LSAD researchers recognise that creating opportunities for local audiences to talk about art is key to improving the reception of public art in the social and cultural life of the city. Their research has sought to deepen audiences' engagement with artists' work and enhance their image and perceptions of contemporary art.

Collaborative work has provided opportunities for participants to get involved in new things and foster networks while learning about other people’s cultures. 'Shang‐pool Arcadia' (Biennial 2010) invited the public to link with people in Shanghai through a variety of virtual encounters. Around 200 members of the public participated in this live event.

Beneficiaries of the research have also gained by participation in community-responsive arts programmes. For example, in addition to being screened at the Biennial 2010, 'Private Views Made Public' (exploring women farmers’ histories and relationships with their country environment) was installed in seven non-art, rural locations throughout the region and led to a series of community events.

Find out more about the research taking place within the Liverpool School of Art and Design.

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