Public Art (Now) was an 18-month national programme of talks, films, publications and workshops, devised by Situations with our partners, dedicated to showcasing internationally significant new forms of public art which ran from 2014-15

The primary aims of the programme were:

  • To expand ideas about what, where and when public art takes place, thereby encouraging public engagement with a broader, more challenging set of art experiences outside galleries and museums;
  • To effect a change in the types of public art commissioned by improving the knowledge of commissioners about the potential for progressive forms of public art projects to endure in the public imagination;
  • To change the current perception amongst artists and curators that the public realm is a place in which creativity is curtailed by offering insight into the ways in which experimental art practices can survive outside galleries.
Jeremy Deller gives lecture at John Wesley’s Chapel, 2014 Photo: Max McClure

Live Events

4 May 2014: Artist Jeremy Deller at John Wesley’s New Room, Bristol in collaboration with Bristol Museum and Art Gallery exhibition of English Magic, achieved live attendance of 334 and was live streamed by this is tomorrow. We created a ‘live streaming assets pack’ and invited organisations across the UK and beyond to join us via the live stream, with over 2,000 live audience members watching from 10 partner organisations including Atlas Arts (Isle of Skye), A3 Project Space (Birmingham), University of Worcester, Spike Island (Bristol), Field Notes (Cornwall) and Creative Time (USA). According to visitor survey comments this live event was a particular highlight of the inaugural Bristol Art Weekender, a celebration of the visual arts across the city from Friday 2 – Monday 5 May 2014.

Futurefarmers visit Bristol Photo: Max McClure


13 July 2014: Amy Franceschini and Futurefarmers brought their boat oven to Bristol and staged a participatory talk and workshop in collaboration with Bristol artisan bakers Harts Bakery. It was the first time the boat oven has traveled to the UK and Futurefarmers’ working methodologies demonstrated first hand.

16 April 2015: Out of Time, Out of Place: Public Art (Now) Talk at Whitechapel London to launch Claire Doherty’s new edited volume Out of Time, Out of Place, Public Art (Now). Claire Doherty, Director of Situations, and Magdalena Malm, Director of Public Art Agency Sweden, were joined by Nato Thompson, Chief Curator of Creative Time and artist Heather Morison to discuss the risks, delights and challenges of producing new progressive forms of public art. Live streaming partners for this event included the Centre for Curating the Archive (South Africa), who curated their own panel discussion prior to the start of the event, highlighting that despite drastic contextual differences to the visual arts ecologies in UK and Africa, comparable challenges are faced by producers and artists pushing to work in the public realm in both countries today. In addition to the two Situations’ reports, a blog response was also commissioned directly by CCA as a result –

Theaster Gates at Sanctum Photo: Max McClure

31 October 2015: Theaster Gates’ Performance Lecture at St. Georges, Bristol, was programmed to coincide with the opening weekend of Theaster’s first UK public project Sanctum – which transformed the bombed out remains of Temple Church into an intimate gathering place in which to hear the city like never before. Theaster delivered his ‘performance lecture’ in the form of a from-the-heart recital of gospel hymns conjured from childhood memories.

Public Art Now Days

11 July 2014 (Liverpool): Futurefarmers visited Homebaked project in Anfield, produced by Liverpool Biennial, selling out and meeting the target of 40 participants including: The Coordinator for Sustainable Food City Liverpool, a Senior Arts Producer, a PHD Student researching arts practice within the field of social housing, a freelance Project Coordinator for a local community engagement festival, a Public Art Officer from Sheffield, Public Programmes Officer at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead and the Managing Director of a National Arts Development Organisation.

‘The day provided the perfect balance of thinking, talking and doing. I was able to meet and learn from other people in a relaxed yet concentrated environment, which you often don’t get at these events.” Programmes Officer, BALTIC, Gateshead.


31 October 2014 (Folkestone) Artist Alex Hartley (UK) and Curator Mary Jane Jacob (Chicago), presented to a sell-out out audience of 40 participants hosted by the Folkestone Fringe on the occasion of the Folkestone Triennial, on the subject of risk-taking in public art. Participants included: The Senior Producer at Cornerhouse Manchester, Outdoor Arts Producers from across the country, an Arts Development Officer at Wandsworth Arts Team, Artistic Director of Strange Cargo and the Learning Officer (Arts) for Economic Development at Plymouth City Council.

“It was a really energising day and a lovely balance of listening, thinking, playing and mingling with some brilliant people.” Engagement Producer, Watershed

Film interviews were conducted with Claire Doherty in conversation with artists Amy Franceschini, Ahmet Ögüt, Jochen Gerz, Susan Philipsz and Theaster Gates. 

Public Art Now blog
Building on the success of the News Rules of Public Art which reached a record number of 27,088 views in the month of December 2013, the blog was launched in 2014. Its international reach spanned from the UK, USA and Australia to Singapore and Korea. This was where we published the reports from all the events – now available here under resources. 

We awarded fourteen bursaries of £150, each which enabled a wide range of successful applicants the opportunity to attend and report on our events. For example, curators Cat Bagg and Rosie Thomson-Glover of Cornwall-based organisation Field Notes attended the Jeremy Deller lecture in May 2014, Bristol-based artists Anna Clawson and Nicole Ward joined us in Liverpool for Homebaked, founder of the public art Stove Network, Katie J. Anderson, travelled from Dumfries to attend the Futurefarmers event at Hart’s bakery and Niamh O’Connor, a Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship Student at Trinity College Dublin and Goldsmiths, travelled from Ireland to report on the workshop in Folkestone. More recently, Hermione Spriggs and Katy Beinart reported on the Public Art (Now) book launch event at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, in addition to enabling Grace Harrison (Liverpool) and Bristol anthropology student Finn Blythe to attend and report on Theaster Gates’ unique performance at St Georges in the context of the opening weekend of Sanctum.

All and more have featured their reports on the Public Art Now blog and are included on this website as a resource.

Out of Time, Out of Place, Public Art (Now) was published in January 2015. Edited by Situations’ Founder Director Claire Doherty, this survey publication was published by Art / Books in association with Situations and Public Art Agency Sweden and the European Network of Public Art Producers in 2015. Public Art (Now) brings together over 40 of the most influential public artworks to have emerged in the past decade.



Public Art (Now) was produced by Situations in association with Bristol Festival of Ideas, Art / Books, Creative Time (New York), Eastside Projects, Live Art Development Agency, Folkestone Triennial, Liverpool Biennial, Public Art Agency Sweden, Space Studios, This is Tomorrow, University of Central Lancashire and University of Bristol.

Public Art Now was made possible through the generous support of Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Cultural Value programme, European Cultural Programme, Paul Hamlyn Foundation Breakthrough Award, Public Art Agency Sweden and Bjorvika Infrastruktur, Oslo.

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