Big Things on the Beach

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Public Art Course - Course 2, term 1

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ImageBig Things on the Beach began it’s second Public Art course for the local residents of Portobello in September 2007. This year thirteen people enrolled on the Public Art course and last week participants successfully completed their first ten week term.

The Public Art course started with a basic introduction to Public Art. Participants have been shown a variety of different types, media and artists involved in contemporary Public Art. Slide shows have included good and bad examples of temporary & permanent Public Art in both a national and international context.

Read on for more information...

Ettie Spencer with the group
Speakers, of which there have been artists, lecturers in Public Art and arts consultants, have facilitated various group discussions around Public Art exploring the commissioning process and many of the issues surrounding it. Some of these issues have included the legal and contractual obligations of the artist and the commissioning body as well as the potential impact of the artwork on the local community and the natural environment.

One particular session focussed the group on developing a creative brief which acts as a "call to artists" to respond to the particular area of Portobello's beach and environs. This session was one of the "most difficult session so far". The speaker "lead us through the process step by step, explained it well but the speaker really helped the group get their ideas together". The brief is currently being widely advertised through various websites, established artists mailing lists, arts organisations and galleries. The deadline for artists proposals is the end of Jan 2008.

On Portobello Promenade
Participants have already been on three local trips. One trip involved the group going on a site visit to the beachfront with a local historian to explore the local area in more detail within an historical and cultural context. This session "gave me a sense of place and the speaker gave a vivid account of Porty's past identity and character". The group have also been to the "magical" garden of Little Sparta to see the work of the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay, giving participants a chance to "see art in a natural setting". Lastly as an end of term treat, the group visited Powderhall Bronze, a local Edinburgh based bronze casting company. The group were able "to see behind the scenes and learn about the process". The evening ended with a glass of wine in the on-site gallery which showcases the work of local artists.

At Powderhall Bronze
For the last session of term one, the group were asked to evaluate the project so far. Overall the group's feedback has been extremely positive and everyone seems very happy with the accessibility of the course work and the course content. One participants said she was "surprised by the amount being covered by the course". The course has "extended my knowledge about Public Artworks and encouraged my thinking". Participants now have a good understanding of the subject which will ultimately help them feel more confident and better informed for the demands of the second term. The group will be expected to help short list, interview and finally select an artist to create a temporary Public Artwork. However they will also be able to enjoy Public Art in a more informal setting by taking part on one of the three Public Art study tours to Berlin, Barcelona or Liverpool.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 December 2007 15:48  

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Big Things on the Beach is a public art trust in Portobello, a seaside suburb close to the city centre of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was formed by a group of residents in 2003 to explore the potential of the seafront as a site for engagement with public artworks by both emerging and established artists.

Since 2004 we have commissioned artists to create substantial temporary artworks, trained ourselves and others in the process of commissioning public artworks through international site visits and guest lectures and successfully raised funding to these ends.

Our current project - The Big Welcome - is supported by Creative Scotland, Portobello & Craigmillar Neighbourhood Partnership and Edinburgh City Libraries