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Quality Public Art

Judges have released a shortlist for the Liberty Kent Public Art Award 2011 that reflects the quality of public works of art that are being commissioned in Kent.

The shortlist reflects public artworks of high quality that engage audiences and communities, generating interest and understanding of the environment and the community in which it is situated. The shortlisted pieces are:

1. A K Dolven, "Out of Tune", Folkestone. Commissioned by Folkestone Triennial

Since the 1990s, Norwegian artist A K Dolven has worked with the idea of not being in harmony with one's surroundings. More specifically, she has worked with disused bells for the past three years. This commission for the 2011 Folkestone Triennial continues a series of similar titles such as Out of Time, Out of Balance and Out of Season.

This idea of being out of harmony is an appropriate metaphor for the theme of the 2011 Folkestone Triennial. Entitled A Million Miles From Home, the second Triennial invites provocative artistic responses to the situations of displacement, migration, and not belonging – drawing on Folkestone’s own geographical position on the southeastern tip of England, and its symbolic position as a gateway to Europe and further afield.

Curator Andrea Schlieker invited A K Dolven to make a work based on her large-scale temporary outdoor installation Untuned Bell (Oslo, 2010). For the Triennial, Dolven chose to situate the bell on the melancholy seafront of Folkestone, in the desolate space left vacant by a former amusement park. It is placed in line with St Mary and St Eanswythe’s Church on the hill, which has eight bells.

During the opening of the Triennial, Dolven enacted a performance whereby she rang the bell and then bell-ringers from St Mary and St Eanswythe’s responded. A group of bell-ringers from Scraptoft Church also drove down from Leicestershire especially for the opening.

Out of Tune aims to reflect not only the universal themes of difference and being out of harmony, but also incorporating a range of local concerns, such as the decline of the local church.

2. Adam Chodzko, "Ghost", Whitstable and Queenborough. Commissioned by Whitstable Biennale

‘Ghost’ is a kayak; ‘a sculpture as vessel’, coffin, bed, costume and camera rig. It was conceived by the artist in order to ferry people to the island of the dead: Deadman's Island, off Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK.

Made from hundreds of strips of cedar, mahogany, oak and ash sealed with resin, the vessel’s surface incorporates iconography relating to the theme of a deathly voyage.
Deadman’s Island was used as a burial site for bodies of people who had died on the prison hulks moored in the Swale in the 18th and 19th C. In 2010, one by one, members of the public were ferried to the island.

‘Ghost’ is designed to accommodate a rower at the back, and a member of the public at the front. The passenger travels lying down flat in the vessel, low in the water, like a body in a coffin with head slightly raised. A dome in the deck of the kayak also separates the passenger physically and visually from the oarsman at the back. On the deck is a mount for a video camera which records the journey of the kayak from across its bows. ‘

Ghost’, therefore, generated a record each passenger’s unique journey and the film footage was then archived. At it’s launch at the Whitstable Biennale 2010, ‘Ghost’ carried many local people from the Isle of Sheppey to Deadman’s Island.

3. Sans Facon, "Iconic Site", Neon, Margate. Commissioned by Margate Arts Creativity Heritage (MACH)

Iconic Site is a red neon text created by Sans façon as a response to the situation of many cities, where a massive wave of new developments change the face of our urban environment, often replacing the character of the place with hollow words and meaningless phrases.

Re-commissioned in Margate in 2011, where an arts and heritage-led approach to regeneration has made a virtue of the town's historic character, Iconic Site takes on new meaning and purpose. Here, the artwork forms part of a multi-faceted campaign to transform the fortunes of the derelict Fort Road Hotel. Gracing the front of the building and illuminating it by night, the work invites us to look again at The Fort Road Hotel: to see beyond its current state and reconsider its historic significance; to review its fantastic location and re-imagine its future.

In this setting, against the backdrop of Margate's Old Town and overlooking the landmark new gallery, Turner Contemporary, Iconic Site actively participates in questioning the role of the built environment in urban renewal.

The winner will be announced on 19 October.

Now in its 17th year, the Liberty Kent Public Art Award is funded by Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd and Kent County Council and carries a total prize of £15,000. The award recognises that great art is being commissioned and delivered in Kent. The shortlist reflects public artworks of high quality that engage audiences and communities, generating interest and understanding of the environment and the community in which it is situated.

The award is judged by a panel of experts, which this year is headed by design guru Wayne Hemingway.

Other members of the judging panel are Mark Davy, founder of Futurecity, the UK’s most successful culture and placemaking consultancy whose projects include Battersea Power Station, Ebbsfleet Valley and the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project; Stephanie Fuller, Senior Manager for Regional Planning at Arts Council England South East; Rosa Ainley, a Kent-based writer/artist and Anna Harvey, a Young Arts Ambassador for Kent.

“We are delighted to be involved in this award and the standard of the entries is testament to the quality of public art we are lucky enough to have in Kent,” said Andrew Blevins, managing director of Liberty Property Trust UK Ltd. “The three shortlisted works are exceptional and we are very grateful to our distinguished judging panel for their hard work in assessing all the entries.”

Sally Staples, head of KCC Arts Development Unit, said: “The shortlist reflects the exciting variety of works being commissioned in the public realm in recent years. Public art has evolved to include a spectrum of artworks from the permanent sculpture through to temporary interventions and pieces with which the audience can interact directly.”

“These public works of art play an important role in enhancing the urban, suburban and rural environment of Kent.

“They also have an important economic role. The shortlisted works – as well as installations such as Tracey Emin’s work in Margate and Cornelia Parker’s in Folkestone – reflect the effort that has gone into cultural led regeneration in East Kent. Turner Contemporary in Margate, the Folkestone Triennial and the Whitstable Biennale have all proved to be successful catalysts for change.”

Anyone who would like more information on the award should visit www.libertykentpublicartaward.co.uk

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