I work in the public realm because of the opportunity to respond to site, context and audience, therefore people are at the core of my practice and engagement throughout the process is a key aspect of my approach.
This focus is manifested in many ways, at times I engage and consult with either client or end user groups to ensure that they are part of the process and feel ownership over the process of development. Other projects have worked with people to ask more simply, how do places make us feel, how do we respond to public art?
Some projects have been almost entirely engagement based, process is everything. An example of this was the work that I undertook with Andy Siddall of Civic Architects for Bridgewater Building Schools for the Future. Using various creative exercises we enabled a team of young people to select which artist they wanted to work with. They also facilitated the creation of a briefing document for the developers full of information about colour texture and form that could be taken forward into their new buildings.
On another level I also uses the process of engagement within my own work: this can be seen in the project ‘Four Questions’ which was created for the new City Library in Newcastle in 2007. I wanted to mark the opening of the building as an important civic building and to create a sense of ownership over the scheme, also to mark a point in time and to create a kind of contemporary portrait of Newcastle. Working with a team of researches, a website, audio interviews and questionnaire, we asked 1000 people 4 simple questions,
- What do you fear?
- What makes you happy?
- What would you change?
- What gives you hope?
The answers to these were woven in drawings which formed four chapters of an installation on the main glazed elevation at the library making the people of Newcastle a permanent part of the building.