Exhibition

Art in Public Places

30 May 2009 – 30 Aug 2009

Leeds, United Kingdom

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As one of the first organisations of its kind, the Public Art Development Trust (PADT), established in 1983, defined public art in the UK for some twenty years. The archive of the PADT was acquired by the Henry Moore Institute in 2005 and this exhibition traces projects generated by the Trust — realised and unrealised — featuring artists such as Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker and Katarina Fritsch. The material gives a unique insight into the evolution of public art and charts the major shift from permanent bronze and stone figures to temporary interventions, installations and projections. The exhibition also gives a snapshot of how an organisation is represented through its archive, with the complex genesis of sometimes controversial projects played out through ephemeral and documentary material. The PADT produced new works of art which engaged with aesthetic, social and environmental issues within projects which were usually site specific. The artists were supported by the Trust to explore their ideas for a specific commission, and the resulting work could be temporary, permanent or involve an extended period of time. The Trust also worked to broaden public understanding and critical debate in relation to public art, by convening talks, publishing and engaging with the media. The PADT focused on commissions of new work and initial projects had quite a traditional feel and largely involved permanently sited works, but as time went on the projects became more experimental, and were increasingly of a temporary nature. Working with contemporary British and international artists, including well-known names such as Daniel Buren, Anya Gallaccio, Grenville Davey, Magdalena Jetelova, Langlands and Bell and Vong Phaophanit, the Trust generated hundreds of projects. These were developed in collaboration with a wide range of organisations — public bodies and private developers, architects and individuals — including London Transport, BAA plc, British Rail, British Waterways and many local and regional authorities. The projects ranged from small-scale interventions to major urban developments and encompassed a wide variety of media. The exhibition features previously unseen material from the PADT archive, including drawings, film, letters, photographs, maquettes and audiotapes. The archive of the PADT records the development of realised and unrealised works and in some cases their history after installation (and their occasional demise). As such it offers a rare insight into a range public art projects, including some which have never been brought to public attention and others which no longer exist.

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