Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Document written by Peter Downey, Special Projects Co-ordinator for Sheffield Hallam University.

One of a series of documents relating to the appointment of an artist for Phase 4 of the City Campus Developments (Campus 21).




A project to produce a “good practice” guide for Europe relating to artists and craftspeople working in the public realm. A collaboration between Sheffield Hallam University and CAMAS Building Materials.

The University’s “Art for the Community” programme, from its origination, has been designed to encourage a collaborative approach to ‘Public Art’. In the first document published to describe the programme, the University wrote of “the chance to make the most of the opportunities ... to develop public art as an integral part of the plan”. Sheffield Hallam University’s programme of development is envisaged as an unique opportunity to involve artists and craftspeople with all construction professionals as equal partners. A policy which has been pursued throughout the development of the City Campus.

This particular project is seen as a natural development; building upon the University’s experience and recognising the challenges presented in working in the public realm, frequently in essential collaboration with local government and their planning authorities. CAMAS Building Materials are natural partners for the project with their extensive experience, wide range and quality of artificial and natural stone products for use in the public realm.

The Concept
The ‘good practice’ guide will derive from the work of an international conference in the year 2000 to be held at Sheffield Hallam University. The conference will examine and evaluate the experiences of four projects, forming case studies, organised in different European cities to mark the Millennium. The British case study will be the design and remodelling of Hallam Square, Sheffield; a public space immediately adjacent to the proposed conference venue. Discussions have been initiated with other leading cities in Europe including Amsterdam, Florence, Helsinki, Kiel and Valencia. The report of the Conference will form the “Guide”.

The English case study
An artist will be appointed by the University to work with Sheffield City Council’s design team on the creation of the new enlarged Hallam Square. This major new “public space” will be created by the reconfiguration of Arundel Gate and Howard Street in the heart of the City. The artist, working within the constraints provided by the architects, civil and highways engineers, will be responsible for the concept of the visual underpinning of the public space and the identification of opportunities for subsequent interventions by other artists and craftspeople - a framework for the involvement of others.

The artist appointment will be recommended by a panel arranged by the University and CAMAS and the process will be:

  • national advertisement;
  • an expression of interest by artists;
  • a day’s seminar and site visit for all interested;
  • selection of six artists on the basis of previous work and experience;
  • short-listed artists invited to develop concept design proposals for the Square - there will be a fee for this work;
  • proposals exhibited publicly with comments invited;
  • selection of the winning artist by the panel.

It is proposed that both the winner and runner-up will receive a prize but the principal reward for the winner will be an appointment to the design team to realise the concept.

The Conference
In 2000 - designated Arts Council of England Year of the Artist - a major international conference will be held in Sheffield based on the development of Hallam Square and the projects of the three other European Cities.

The Conference, through an examination of the major case studies and with reference to other projects in Europe, has the aim of developing an ‘European best practice’ guide for artists and craftspeople working in collaboration with civic authorities to achieve higher standards of design, use, maintenance, public relevance and animation. It is anticipated a North American perspective could be provided by inviting a leading American practitioner to chair the Conference. [Since this Report was written, the internationally respected artist, Jack Mackie has expressed a keen enthusiasm to be involved.]

The Conference will be organised by and held at Sheffield Hallam University and late June is the period being considered. The main conference would be held over two days but it may prove possible to offer extended opportunities to view relevant work for international visitors.

Peter R. Downey

Special Projects Co-ordinator
Sheffield Hallam University

10 July 1996

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