490 Dissertation

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Text of 490 Dissertation

  • The Effect of Public Art on Public

    Spaces: Poets, Worms and Street

    Art

    Thejas Jagannath

    A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

    Bachelor of Arts with Honours at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    October 2015

  • ii

    Abstract

    Public art is thought to enhance the public space of our cities. Public art plays a vital role

    in public space because it adds creativity to the space and gives the public space a focus.

    The variety of public art available in public space creates vibrancy and contributes to

    inclusive spaces which can lead to engagement with public art and with people in public

    spaces. These kinds of artworks, which are freely available for everyone to interact with

    either intellectually or physically, can have an effect on the built environment, not only in

    the beautification of the city or the design of the public spaces, but also on the general

    publics psyche. This dissertation addresses two main research questions: What are the

    characteristics of good public spaces? and How does public art contribute to good

    public spaces? To answer these questions the dissertation will focus on three main public

    spaces in Dunedin each having its own distinctive artwork. These include, the Robert

    Burns statue in the Octagon; the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens; and street art

    around Bond and Vogel streets.

    How people interact and engage with these distinctive artworks is evaluated through

    qualitative research, specifically semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and

    questionnaire surveys to gather the publics perceptions and understanding of public art as

    relevant to their public spaces. The vibrancy created in the public spaces where different

    entities combine to form a positive atmosphere is situated multiplicity which also

    contributes to having specific creative moments of oeuvre, where people interact with

    many different materials that combine to form a positive emotive effect. The ways in

    which people perceive and feel about these attributions can be affective.

    This research found that many amenities are involved in creating a good public space and

    that the way the public space is built contributes to how people engage with it. It shows

    that there are many ways people engage with public art in public spaces, and the type of art

    a person is engaging with contributes to determining the way people interact with public

    art. For instance, an interactive sculpture creates different forms of engagement than a

    static statue or a street art as they create different types of perceptions and emotions to the

    public. The ways in which people interact with different forms of public art is the main

    focus of this study.

  • iii

    Acknowledgements

    This study has been very inspiring and fulfilling to undertake. It would not have been

    possible to do it alone, and there are a few people I would like to thank for making this an

    exciting and a possible journey:

    My supervisor Dr. Sophie Bond, whose regular feedback, support and assistance

    were invaluable.

    My parents, my brother Vilas and my sister in law Diana, for their constant support

    and encouragement. Thank you for always being there for me through my ups and

    downs.

    All my wonderful friends, who have been a positive influence and always ready for

    a chat.

    The interview participants and the survey respondents, who dedicated their time for

    this study.

    The staff and friends of Abbey College, for providing me with good

    accommodation and helping me to acclimatize to a new city.

    The staff and students of the Geography Department at the University of Otago,

    who have made this a memorable year.

    Thank you!

    Thejas Jagannath

  • iv

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Abstract ii

    Acknowledgements iii

    Table of Contents iv

    List of Figures vi

    List of Tables vii

    Chapter 1 Introduction 1

    1.1 Research overview 1

    1.2 Research questions and aims 2

    1.3 Research context 3

    1.4 Structure of the dissertation 8

    Chapter 2 Literature Review 10

    2.1 Overview 10

    2.2 What is a public space? 10

    2.2.1 Oeuvre 12

    2.3 Sociality of public space 13

    2.3.1 Democracy in public spaces 13

    2.3.2 Masseys thrown-togetherness 14

    2.3.3 Situated multiplicity 15

    2.3.4 Affect 16

    2.4 Public art in public space 18

    2.5 Summary 21

    Chapter 3 Research Methods 22

    3.1 Context of research 22

    3.2 Qualitative research 22

    3.2.1 Semi-structured interviews 23

    3.2.2 Questionnaire method 24

    3.3 Analysis of method 26

    3.4 Ethics and positionality 26

  • v

    Chapter 4 Reflections of a good public space 28

    4.1 Overview 28

    4.2 Landscape and amenities of public space 28

    4.3 People-oriented public spaces 33

    4.3.1 Inclusive and welcoming public spaces 33

    4.3.2 Pedestrian zones 39

    4.4 Summary 42

    Chapter 5 Art in public spaces 43

    5.1 Overview 43

    5.2 Role of art in public spaces 44

    5.3 Engagement with public art 45

    5.3.1 Engagement with Robert Burns statue 49

    5.3.2 Engagement with the Worm sculpture 54

    5.3.3 Engagement with street art 58

    5.3.4 Combining engagement with public art in Dunedin 64

    5.4 Democracy: public participation in public art 64

    5.5 Summary 67

    Chapter 6 Aims, limitations and future prospects 69

    6.1 Aim of research 69

    6.2 Limitations 70

    6.3 Future prospects 70

    6.4 Concluding statements 71

    Reference List 72

    Appendix A: Interview questions 76

    Appendix B: Survey questions 77

    Appendix C: Ethical information sheet and consent form 84

  • vi

    LIST OF FIGURES

    Figure 1.1: Robert Burns Statue, Dunedin 4

    Figure 1.2: Worm sculpture by Julia Morrison 5

    Figure 1.3: Street art trail map 6

    Figure 1.4: Love is in the air artwork by Natalia Rak 7

    Figure 2.1: Angel of North sculpture by Anthony Gormley 16

    Figure 2.2: Tilted Arc by Richard Serra 20

    Figure 4.1: Seating and green spaces in the Botanic Gardens 29

    Figure 4.2: Graph depicting sense of belonging 38

    Figure 4.3: Trafalgar Square, London 40

    Figure 5.1: Graph depicting historic symbolism 51

    Figure 5.2: Robert Burns Statue in a Korowai 53

    Figure 5.3: Children interacting with the Worm sculpture 55

    Figure 5.4: Pixel Pancho, Chipmunks 61

    Figure 5.5: The Eagle by Del East 61

    Figure 5.6: Bronx Bronzes by John Ahearn 66

  • vii

    LIST OF TABLES

    Table 4.1: Survey respondents on why they visit public spaces 32

    Table 4.2: Reasons for feeling welcome in the Botanic Gardens 36

    Table 4.3: Reasons for feeling welcome in the Octagon 37

    Table 4.4: Responses on pedestrian friendly zones 41

    Table 5.1: Reasons for engaging with Robert Burns in the Octagon 50

    Table 5.2: Reasons for engaging with the Worm sculpture 57

  • 1

    Chapter 1

    Introduction

    1.1 Research overview

    Cities around the world invest in public art for a variety of reasons (Amin, 2008; Cant &

    Morris, 2006). Public art can denote symbolism which can sometimes lead to community

    involvement (Hawkins, 2013). Communities engage with public art in cities in many ways

    with interactive or static sculptures, and street art which are mostly free for all. Such public

    artworks often try to represent the city by giving people a sense of familiarity towards the

    public space (Pile, 1996). The place in which public art is located gives an idea of who it is

    targeted at and what the motive behind the art is (Zebracki, 2012). The open spaces in a

    city which are created for public recreation are often selected as sites for public artworks