Public art in Tasmania created through the Tasmanian Government Art Site Scheme

My name is Ellen Lamb and I’ve worked here at Bernie Linc for nearly 30 years in the state budget in 2015 we were allotted some money by the government to do a big redevelopment here and as part of that redevelopment a certain proportion of the money is required to be spent on public art I think they were 14 applicants and some of them were just mind-blowing – the artwork with stunning it’s the first thing that people notice when they walk or drive up or down the street even the council members have commented on how much they like it and they would like to see that kind of open bright colourful stuff happening in other parts of town as well the public art program started in 1979 and that makes it the oldest public art program in the country it’s the state government’s commitment to delivering public art for the people that’s really placed out in the community across the entire state so over the life of the scheme we would have commissioned more than a thousand artists and that’s delivered over 1,400 artworks into around 450 sites across the state I’m a furniture designer and maker people are often surprised what is defined as public artwork we’ve made a board room table for the police station at Devonport it was a five and a half meter long piece out of Tasmanian materials made specifically for the space and how they were going to use it so to be able to understand how something is going to be used and be able to help the people who are going to be using it understand how you design – as a maker it’s really great if you can design something for the space rather than buying it out of a catalogue the materials tend to come locally you end up with a better product you end up with a connection with the maker you’re going to get something which is more functional more useful therefore it has a longevity the environmental benefits are obvious I think the thing about public art is it takes art out of the gallery context and it puts it where the people are there’s a really immediate connection and that connection might be one that challenges or it might provoke or it might stimulate it might educate or it might sooth the people that come into contact with it one of the things that I love about the Public Art Site Scheme is it gives artists an opportunity to work on bigger projects that they may not normally be able to work on so with a creative project like the Public Art projects it’s that beautiful balance between creating something for a client and for an end-user but also that opportunity to express yourself and create something that has part of you in it as well I try not to be too limited by what I can physically do myself so if I have an idea that it requires stonemason or a timber worker or an element of laser-cutting cnc routing I’ll set up a team that can help me then produce the works according to my designs a larger proportion of the budget actually feeds out further into the local community and that’s something I try and do is keep all my suppliers local as well so the money is doing a good circle I think it can have a really big measurable impact on the way people use spaces so like the one at Springfield Gardens Primary it’s really a very direct call for action saying DIG – get into the garden and you know get your hands dirty see what you can grow see what you can make from it and I think that’s exciting for them the Prospect High School project was basically about saying to the students that this time at school is an exciting time it’s just part of a bigger journey that metaphor of the eagle flying through various landscapes which will be familiar to them was a really kind of simple way to communicate that idea there was another artwork that was put into the police station in Devonport which had some of those policemen in tears it was absolutely beautiful piece of artwork a glass artist had incorporated the fingerprints of some of their sergeants that had died a couple of years before and there was a bit of a memorial for these guys I’m in a beautiful simple way it was really subtle but meaningful and so I think that potentially it could have been a hard self why does the police station it artworks but it ended up being really successful project I don’t think we’ve heard a bad word about the artwork and it’s really quite interesting to watch people coming up the steps and stop and look at it they’ve tried to put bits of Burnie into the artwork and when people find bits of Burnie in it it’s kind of like wow this is ours this is our piece of art and we own it and then really interesting actually

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