Public Art: feeding the soul on Glasgow’s subway?

Tuesday 19 November, 6.00pm until 8.00pm, Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street, Glasgow G3 6RB UK Satellite Events 2013

Tickets: free but ticketed- available on the day, box office open from 14:45 (max. 2 per person).

At one time you had to go to a gallery to participate in the art world. Now, from The Kelpies to UK-wide project Art Everywhere, public space is increasingly being filled with various objets d’art. Strathclyde Partnership for Transport shares this new enthusiasm and wishes to ‘feed our souls’. Its ongoing programme of modernisation of the Glasgow Subway includes plans for ‘quality pieces’ in each of the 15 stations. But is the public really in need of such nourishment? What role does expertise play in choosing ‘public’ art, and how comfortably do these choices sit with the vogue for bottom-up audience participation? Should authorities instead stick to providing more traditional civic amenities such as parks and fountains rather than spending resources on artistic engagement, often of questionable merit? Or is there something to celebrate in the notion of great art being freely available to all in our daily lives?

There will be drinks on arrival before the discussion from 6:00pm.

Dr Tiffany Jenkins
writer and broadcaster; author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there

Toby Paterson
artist; public commissions include 'Points of Contact' (Dunfermline)

Andy Scott
sculptor, projects include "Heavy Horse", "Equus Altus" and "The Kelpies"

Claire Fox
director, Institute of Ideas; panellist, BBC Radio 4's Moral Maze; author, I Find That Offensive

Produced by
Dr Simon Knight senior youth work practitioner; vice chair, Play Scotland
Michelle Watt communications manager, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport
Recommended readings
A State Of Agreement Stephen Willats,, 2013

In defence of the public’s judgement

A public debate on the point of the arts showed a worrying disdain for art's potential audience.

Alka Seghal Cuthbert, spiked, 20 June 2013

Turning art into advertising

The Art Everywhere plan to plaster art on UK billboards is more about public relations than public art.

Wendy Earle, spiked, 11 June 2013

Frieze: 10 tips for dealing with (or in) contemporary art

It’s hard to deny that in its quest for instant accessibility, contemporary art has lost something of the sense of purpose that it enjoyed when it was genuinely pushing at the boundaries of moral and social consensus. It is no surprise that art is so popular these days, when it is so easily consumed and digested.

Peter Aspden, Financial Times, 4 January 2013

Public art and place

We are delighted to bring you an exclusive interview with Toby Paterson, one of Scotland’s most successful contemporary artists. Here he discusses the impact of place in public art. Artworks appear courtesy of the artist and The Modern Institute.

Avocado Sweet, 5 December 2012

Public Art: A Good Investment or a Waste of Taxpayers' Money?

Public art has also been hailed as transformative in regeneration projects across the country. Governments have frequently attempted to link regeneration and public art. NCF's report discusses the London Docklands where a public art strategy was adopted as part of an urban regeneration project in the city. Huge amounts of money have been dedicated to artistic commissions in cities across the UK.

Theodora Clarke, Huffington Post, 19 May 2012

Meet the Kelpies, Scotland's giant addition to the UK sculptural skyline

Full-scale versions to stand 10 storeys high - and be more than just decorative

Severin Carrell, Guardian, 24 November 2008


This is the lead chapter in a book of essays entitled, ‘DECADEnt – Public Art – Contentious Term and Contested Practice’.

David Harding,,

Session partners