Public Art Portishead Quays The Lady Sings, Michael Disley Flying, Lucy Glendinning Fallen Nails, Cod Steaks Ship to Shore, Jon Buck Gates and Fencing to Portishead Primary School, Matthew Fedden When Shall We Three Meet Again...?, Robert Stuart Clamp
the commissioning process

The steering group endeavoured to make the process of appointing an artist as democratic as possible. Four commissioning models were adopted in response to the needs of the individual brief:

  • Artist in Residence - the artist produces work whilst based at a location near to, on a site, or within the community where the public art work will be placed

Gordano School

  • Open Competition - announced by placing advertisements describing the site and commission in appropriate journals and newspapers
  • Limited Competition - a small number of artists are asked to develop and submit proposals for a site following a site visit and delivery of the Artists brief
  • Commissioning by Direct Invitation or Approach - an artist or group of artists

"In the early days it was important to set competitions and interviews. Once you've done that it's easier for the future. Given the longevity of our programme, it was important to build up a database early on." Paul Talbot, Design Director, Crest Nicholson

Opening up the programme to a broad range of artists, designers and craftspeople has, over time, resulted in a stimulating input of ideas. Along with an increased confidence in the processes employed by the steering group, the content of the programme has shifted from cautious to experimental:

"Initially we were quite cautious because it would have been a disaster if the first works we commissioned weren't successful. We employed an Artist in Residence, as we were very keen to have someone work on site. He agreed to work for the whole summer and to speak to anyone who visited the marketing suite. It eased us in gently to the idea of a commission." Mark Hallett, Project Director, Crest Nicholson

Arc of Angels, Rick Kirby

"representing the new community, both unique and individual, yet gaining strength and support in their united formation. The piece also relates to the five radio towers that stood for many years on the site." Arch of Angels, Rick Kirby

More ambitious, contemporary and experimental approaches hallmarked the ethos behind the second phase of the development around the Ashlands and the East Dock.

"There was a degree of pragmatism at the outset it has to be said and not a great deal of risk taking - but that was a question of confidence building. If you go down there and look at the pieces, they are certainly getting riskier. The energy sculpture is quite cutting edge! The early, more conventional sculptures gave the steering group and other stakeholders the confidence to be a bit more imaginative and exciting." Kedrick Davies, Urban Designer, North Somerset Council


Setting a brief

One of the key elements that helped to enrich the programme was the variety of opportunities offered to artists. Several potential ways of engaging with the site were identified in the strategy and formed the basis of non-prescriptive briefs for the artworks, which include:

  • Artist Specific - engaging a particular artist / craftsperson
  • Site Specific - taking in to account the components of 'place' - topographical, historical, social, economic, cultural characteristics and the purpose and use of space

Sculptural Garden, Forge Projects

"a place of leisure and reflection; with an education element responding to the history of the site intended to promote an initial interest and engagement with the locality." Sculptural Garden, Angela Cockayne

  • Specific Context - the physical and environmental aspects of the proposed space alongside the potential social use of the area