The consultation, participation and involvement of the local community – both established and new – are crucial to the project to develop a sense of shared values and ownership.
"Public Art Portishead Quays has sold the development in a lot of ways. It's been a great facilitator for getting together the local people, using local themes and local history to bond old and new together." Paul Talbot, Design Director, Crest Nicholson
Strategies for community involvement include:
(i) Community representatives central to the steering group
At least two community representatives have consistently sat on the steering group. Sue Hayson from Portishead Town Council believes this has influenced the conceptual basis of the artworks so that they "reflect things that have happened and people in Portishead... you have a new building site and you have a reflection of the historical events and elements."
(ii) Artist in Residence - artists have been invited to meet with residents and visitors to discuss the project and explore ideas...
The initial strategy for reaching out to the community was to employ an artist in residence, Michael Disley. He worked on site to demystify the artistic process and more importantly to elicit ideas from local people and engender a shared sense of ownership of the public art programme.
"I think it was really important to have a community artist upfront to do the work with the community. We chose someone whose work was accessible and understood by the community, who was actually a good communicator as well. That worked really well." Tean Kirby, North Somerset and Portishead Partnership
(iii) Artists working with schools and in other community group situations, for example an enamelling project with the Mencap group who meet at the local youth club
A series of projects have been run which directly link community groups with professional artists. Please see 'Fragments and Traces' (community projects section) for more information.
"The number of young people we have reached through the schools projects has been fantastic - some 700 school pupils have been directly involved in arts projects. We hope they will feel inspired by these creative experiences to further investigate the public art trails with their families." Richard Briggs, MD, Persimmon Special Projects Western
(iv) Incorporation of ideas from the community, in terms of cultural and historical experiences, into a variety of artworks
For example, Ann Christopher’s contemporary sculpture 'Towards the Sky', cited near the entrance to the development, is a work which celebrates the heritage of the site and the passing of its industrial phase.
At over five metres high, this rich tactile work acts as a market, introducing people to different elements of the site, its vibrancy whetting appetites for the remaining artworks.
Artworks engage interactively with the community
For example Tean Kirby’s Riddle of the Stones is an innovative on-line storybook and puzzle based on the tale of Ned Teach who became the notorious pirate Blackbeard. The on-line storybook links to a quirky sculptural trail and tale of ships, pirates and rats that weaves through Port Marine. Follow the stories, gather the clues and solve the riddles by visiting the website www.riddleofthestones.co.uk.