Situations is an arts organisation dedicated to commissioning and producing compelling and imaginative new forms of public art. For over a decade we have been supporting artists to make extraordinary ideas happen in unusual and surprising places, directly engaging in people’s lives and offering alternative ways in which to see, hear and connect to each other.

We believe that artists are charismatic agents of change. We invest in their process, challenge established studio or theatre-based artists to step into the public realm and nurture emerging artistic, producing and writing talent.

Missorts, 2012. Photo: Max McClure

We commission and produce both temporary and long-term public artworks, as well as acting as a connector to bring people and partners together through collective programmes and festival events in the South West of England and internationally. Our growing portfolio of projects feeds an on-going public programme of events, discussions, publications and debates called Public Art Now, which seeks to improve the conditions for, and skills to produce, new forms of public art nationally and internationally. Our work is guided by our belief in the capacity for the arts to change, enhance and inform the way we think about and interact with the world around us. For us, public spaces outside conventional arts venues offer the most rich and rewarding contexts in which that can happen.

Our Story – we do things differently here

Less Is More, 2009. Photo: Stephen Rowe

Working beyond the boundaries of a gallery or museum context offers a rich and often challenging set of conditions. We begin from a more dynamic understanding of place than a physical site, inviting artists to contribute to the lived experience of a place. This consideration of situation (a set of conditions, locations, people, moments in time and circumstance) rather than location means that every newly commissioned project starts with a process of becoming locally embedded.


Situations began its story in 2002 as a public art commissioning programme embedded within the University of the West of England in Bristol. Founded by Claire Doherty, previously Curator at Ikon in Birmingham and FACT in Liverpool, Situations grew from Claire’s sole curatorial endeavour to become an organisation recognised for the international reach and high quality of its work and for the distinctive and surprising ways in which it has engaged audiences. This is reflected in the award of the Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough Award for Outstanding Cultural Entrepreneurs in 2010. On 1 November 2012, with the support of the Breakthrough Award, Situations transferred out of the University and became an independent arts charity with its studio based at Spike Island in Bristol. We are rooted in the South West of England, with Bristol as the seedbed of our programme, whilst our international projects extend the reach of our programme overseas.

We think and reflect on what happens when the spark of an idea is lit by a public artwork, and we bring in unexpected voices to open up that conversation. We share those ideas through dynamic events, websites and blogs, books and workshops. Building on the legacy of Cultural Olympiad, we feel it’s time to nurture a new generation of producers and artists in the public realm and to change the ways in which public art is commissioned and valued and we pledge to make that a fundamental part of Situations’ future through our Public Art Now programme.