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The Effect of Public Art on Public Spaces. Poets, Worms and Street Art

Bachelor Thesis 2015 94 Pages

Sociology - Habitation, Urban Sociology

Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Abstract

Acknowledgements

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Research overview
1.2 Research questions and aims
1.3 Research context
1.4 Structure of the dissertation

Chapter 2 Literature Review
2.1 Overview
2.2 What is a public space?
2.2.1 Oeuvre
2.3 Sociality of public space
2.3.1 Democracy in public spaces
2.3.2 Massey‟s thrown-togetherness
2.3.3 Situated multiplicity
2.3.4 Affect
2.4 Public art in public space
2.5 Summary

Chapter 3 Research Methods
3.1 Context of research
3.2 Qualitative research
3.2.1 Semi-structured interviews
3.2.2 Questionnaire method
3.3 Analysis of method
3.4 Ethics and positionality

Chapter 4 Reflections of a ‘good’ public space
4.1 Overview
4.2 Landscape and amenities of public space
4.3 People-oriented public spaces
4.3.1 Inclusive and welcoming public spaces
4.3.2 Pedestrian zones
4.4 Summary

Chapter 5 Art in public spaces
5.1 Overview
5.2 Role of art in public spaces
5.3 Engagement with public art
5.3.1 Engagement with Robert Burns statue
5.3.2 Engagement with the Worm sculpture
5.3.3 Engagement with street art
5.3.4 Combining engagement with public art in Dunedin
5.4 Democracy: public participation in public art
5.5 Summary

Chapter 6 Aims, limitations and future prospects
6.1 Aim of research
6.2 Limitations
6.3 Future prospects
6.4 Concluding statements

Reference List

Appendix A: Interview questions

Appendix B: Survey questions

Appendix C: Ethical information sheet and consent form

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1.1: Robert Burns Statue, Dunedin

Figure 1.2: Worm sculpture by Julia Morrison

Figure 1.3: Street art trail map

Figure 1.4: „Love is in the air‟ artwork by Natalia Rak

Figure 2.1: Angel of North sculpture by Anthony Gormley

Figure 2.2: Tilted Arc by Richard Serra

Figure 4.1: Seating and green spaces in the Botanic Gardens

Figure 4.2: Graph depicting „sense of belonging‟

Figure 4.3: Trafalgar Square, London

Figure 5.1: Graph depicting historic symbolism

Figure 5.2: Robert Burns Statue in a Korowai

Figure 5.3: Children interacting with the Worm sculpture

Figure 5.4: Pixel Pancho, Chipmunks

Figure 5.5: The Eagle by Del East

Figure 5.6: Bronx Bronzes by John Ahearn

LIST OF TABLES

Table 4.1: Survey respondents on why they visit public spaces

Table 4.2: Reasons for feeling welcome in the Botanic Gardens

Table 4.3: Reasons for feeling welcome in the Octagon

Table 4.4: Responses on pedestrian friendly zones

Table 5.1: Reasons for engaging with Robert Burns in the Octagon

Table 5.2: Reasons for engaging with the Worm sculpture

Abstract

Public art is thought to enhance the public space of our cities. Public art plays a vital role in public space because it adds creativity to the space and gives the public space a focus. The variety of public art available in public space creates vibrancy and contributes to inclusive spaces which can lead to engagement with public art and with people in public spaces. These kinds of artworks, which are freely available for everyone to interact with either intellectually or physically, can have an effect on the built environment, not only in the beautification of the city or the design of the public spaces, but also on the general public‟s psyche. This dissertation addresses two main research questions: „What are the characteristics of „good‟ public spaces?‟ and „How does public art contribute to „good‟ public spaces?‟ To answer these questions the dissertation will focus on three main public spaces in Dunedin each having its own distinctive artwork. These include, the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon; the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens; and street art around Bond and Vogel streets.

How people interact and engage with these distinctive artworks is evaluated through qualitative research, specifically semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and questionnaire surveys to gather the public‟s perceptions and understanding of public art as relevant to their public spaces. The vibrancy created in the public spaces where different entities combine to form a positive atmosphere is „situated multiplicity‟ which also contributes to having specific creative moments of „oeuvre,‟ where people interact with many different materials that combine to form a positive emotive effect. The ways in which people perceive and feel about these attributions can be „affective.‟

This research found that many amenities are involved in creating a „good‟ public space and that the way the public space is built contributes to how people engage with it. It shows that there are many ways people engage with public art in public spaces, and the type of art a person is engaging with contributes to determining the way people interact with public art. For instance, an interactive sculpture creates different forms of engagement than a static statue or a street art as they create different types of perceptions and emotions to the public. The ways in which people interact with different forms of public art is the main focus of this study.

Acknowledgements

This study has been very inspiring and fulfilling to undertake. It would not have been possible to do it alone, and there are a few people I would like to thank for making this an exciting and a possible journey:

- My supervisor Dr. Sophie Bond, whose regular feedback, support and assistance were invaluable.

- My parents, my brother Vilas and my sister in law Diana, for their constant support and encouragement. Thank you for always being there for me through my ups and downs.

- All my wonderful friends, who have been a positive influence and always ready for a chat.

- The interview participants and the survey respondents, who dedicated their time for this study.

- The staff and friends of Abbey College, for providing me with good accommodation and helping me to acclimatize to a new city.

- The staff and students of the Geography Department at the University of Otago, who have made this a memorable year.

Thank you!

Thejas Jagannath

Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Research overview

Cities around the world invest in public art for a variety of reasons (Amin, 2008; Cant & Morris, 2006). Public art can denote symbolism which can sometimes lead to community involvement (Hawkins, 2013). Communities engage with public art in cities in many ways with interactive or static sculptures, and street art which are mostly free for all. Such public artworks often try to represent the city by giving people a sense of familiarity towards the public space (Pile, 1996). The place in which public art is located gives an idea of who it is targeted at and what the motive behind the art is (Zebracki, 2012). The open spaces in a city which are created for public recreation are often selected as sites for public artworks because such spaces allow people to come together and contemplate or enjoy the landscape (Amin, 2008; Cant & Morris, 2006). In such situations, the public art in the space activates the emotions and feelings of people as they engage with the artwork.

The characteristics of what makes a „good‟ public space and how public art adds to this concept of public space will also be explored in more detail. Ash Amin (2008) argues that a good public space is one that brings people together as a community and many factors such as safety, inclusivity, civic spaces and the behaviour of people in the public spaces contribute to how inviting a place is for its citizens. Inclusive, people-oriented spaces are thought of as being good public spaces because there are more chances people would interact with each other if it is inclusive and open for all (Amin, 2008; Cant and Morris, 2006). Public art is one of the characteristics which influence good public spaces as it draws people to form a connection with the artwork and with each other (Zebracki, 2012).

This research will explore the effect public artworks have on public space in the city of Dunedin in New Zealand. For a small city, Dunedin has a fairly vibrant public art scene. There is a mixture of street art, sculptures and statues placed in many parts of the city‟s open spaces. This research will focus on three main public artworks in Dunedin, which are, the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon, the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens, and street art around Bond and Vogel streets in Dunedin‟s Warehouse Precinct. While all of these types of artworks can be interactive in some way, a key issue is how different types of interaction with public art might shape the experiences of public spaces in different ways. For example, the street art which is gaining popularity in Dunedin‟s Bond and Vogel streets would not be interactive in the same manner as using touch to interact with sculptures such as the Ouroubrous which is colloquially known as the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens (Note: this dissertation will refer to it as „Worm sculpture‟). Street art by local and international artists around city walls of Dunedin reveal powerful images which can make people contemplate art or specific social or political issues whereas sculptures might form a more physical effect such as using body movements to reveal emotions (Hawkins, 2013; Pile, 2010). Choosing specific examples of public artworks from statues to street art, this research will explore how public art contributes to public space.

1.2 Research questions and aims

The three types of public art mentioned in the previous affect Dunedin‟s population in different ways. It is important to understand how the public spaces in which these artworks are located are constructed and used by people in order to understand whether art has a positive influence on public space. The location of specific artworks and whether this is appealing to the general public as opposed to officials and whether the public should be involved in such matters is also debated in geography literatures (Amin, 2008; Pollack & Sharp, 2011; Zebracki, 2013).

Given the limited time period, it would not be possible to focus on all the artworks Dunedin offers as there are more than 30 sculptures around the city. Public spaces which are considered to be engaging that brings people into the area will be specifically looked at. Three main areas, the Octagon, the Botanic Gardens and Bond and Vogel streets, are explored in the context of the research. The Octagon and the Botanic Gardens have defined public spaces where people gather on a regular basis and interact with artworks, other amenities or just use the space for their own purposes. However, Bond and Vogel streets do not have public spaces where people can sit or linger. The art is more prominent in the streetscapes than in defined public spaces. As the artworks are located on buildings, it is not necessary for people to be in the space for long periods of time. For instance, people can drive by and appreciate the street art rather than spending time on the street.

Considering all these three types of artworks, the overarching question in this research will be:

- How do different types of public art contribute to public space?

As part of the above question this research will address two main research questions:

- What are the characteristics of „good‟ public spaces?

- How does public art contribute to „good‟ public spaces, with a focus on:
- Sociality of space in the Octagon, the Botanic Gardens and Bond/Vogel streets
- People‟s engagement with art in each of the three public spaces

1.3 Research context

This section will explain the context of each of the three public artworks this research focuses on. These are the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon, the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens, and street art around Bond and Vogel streets.

There are a number of bronze statues of famous figures in Dunedin. For the purpose of this research, the Robert Burns (Robbie Burns) statue in the Octagon will be used to collect data to interpret the perceptions and interactions of people with the statue because the place in which the statue is located is well used by the public and acts as a central part of the city (See Figure 1.1). The Robert Burns statue was built in 1887 by Sir John Steell (Dungey, 2009). Another reason the statue is prominent is because Robert Burn‟s nephew Thomas Burns was one of the „founding fathers‟ of Dunedin city, so it represents the historic Scottish influence in Dunedin. Recently, it is also thought to represent the literary side of the city as Dunedin was branded as „City of Literature‟ by UNESCO (Dunedin City Council, 2014). The Robert Burns statue can be interactive although it is fixed in a place to commemorate history, it can reveal emotions which interactive sculptures do not such as resembling history or making people feel appreciative of having a Scottish literary influence in Dunedin. The central location of the statue which is in the CBD of Dunedin attracts people to engage with it or linger in the public space the statue is located in.

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Figure 1.1: The Robert Burns statue, Dunedin. Source: Author

A more physically interactive artwork is the Oroborous, commonly referred to as Worm sculpture which was designed by artist Julia Morrison in 2013 and located in Dunedin‟s Botanic Garden (See Figure 1.2). The sculpture is called Oroborous because the word signifies a worm which eats its own tail. It is supposed to represent the cyclic nature of life symbolising self-reflection and growth. It was constructed to commemorate the Botanic Garden‟s 150th anniversary. This interactive sculpture is particularly designed for children to walk around the sculpture and to play with it (McAvinue, 2013). However, adults also walk around it, sit on it and interact with it but not in the same fashion the children interact with the sculpture. Adults also ponder over the deeper meanings of what the worm sculpture means, given its official name of Oroborous. Many families bring their children to the park so that they can engage with the Worm and other statues such as the Peter Pan bronze statue which children can learn about. Therefore, the Worm sculpture has a multiple purpose (McAvinue, 2013).

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Figure 1.2: The Worm sculpture by Julia Morrison. Source: Author

Street art has gained momentum in Dunedin specifically in the Warehouse Precinct around Bond and Vogel streets. As indicated in the street art trail map below in Figure 1.3 there are a number of street artworks around Dunedin city (Dunedin Official Website, 2015). Vogel Street and Bond Street, which will be the focus of this research, are well known for street art painted by international artists. These artworks in the Warehouse Precinct started in Dunedin in 2010 and have been popular among Dunedin residents. The paintings are mostly done on the walls of old industrial buildings around the Warehouse Precinct. Street art can reveal powerful emotions in people as it can give people a sense of awe or widen their imaginations such as the „Love is in the air‟ artwork (Figure 1.4) on Bond Street by artist Natalia Rak. Vogel Street was also allocated for a public art festival in October 2014 which gave free admission to people of all ages to enjoy public art particularly street art and sculptures (Dunedin City Council, 2015). Such events bring the community together on the streets for recreation (Sharp et al, 2005). Similar events which have taken place in England have influenced the public space in bringing the community together to socialise and be involved in the public art projects (Hawkins, 2013; Sharp et al, 2005; Zebracki, 2013). The Vogel street party in 2014 brought about similar effects with the public celebrating street art around the area.

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Figure 1.3: Street art trail map. Source: Dunedin‟s official website, http://www.dunedinnz.com/visit/see-and-do/where-to-go-for-free/street-art-trail

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Figure 1.4: „Love is in the air‟ artwork by Natalia Rak. Source: Author

The above mentioned public artworks are evaluated in order to understand how the public interprets and understand their presence in the city. People will interpret the same artwork in different ways as they will symbolise different things depending on the person who is viewing them. A particular focus of the research is to see the different types of perceptions and emotions these artworks convey in their public spaces (Pile, 2010). This is in relation to „sociality‟ of space (discussed in Chapter 2) where the concepts such as „oeuvre‟ which is creative activities people engage in when involved in the mix of a dynamic public space or during „situated multiplicity‟ when a combination of factors affect the emotions and thoughts of how people feel in the particular space. The activities present in and around the space contribute to making the space what it is, which revels specific emotive responses in people which can be called „affective.‟ For example, the awe or surprise created by the Love is in the air artwork (See Figure 1.4) can be thought of as being affective in response to the oeuvre as expressed by the artwork. Another example is the combination of entities present in the Botanic Gardens which brings people together to converse and think about a particular aspect of the Worm sculpture which contributes to the „sociality‟ of space. However, the Worm sculpture is not the same type of art as the street art and signifies a different type of social construct. It does not play with one‟s imagination the same way the street artworks do as it is experimentation rather than observation. All the three types of artworks influence people‟s sensations and emotions although in different „affective‟ ways (Pile, 2010). The way the public spaces are used will indicate whether they have characteristics of a „good‟ public space and how people interpret the art will indicate whether public art contributes to „good‟ public spaces.

1.4 Structure of the dissertation

The aim of this report is to understand the characteristics of well used public spaces and how art is incorporated into the space. It will also look at the influence the art has on the public space that makes it a positive space to be in.

The important social science literature which supports this research is analysed in detail in Chapter Two. This will include aspects of public space with concepts of „sociality‟ such as oeuvre, thrown-togetherness, situated multiplicity, and affect which focus on people‟s perceptions and emotions relating to public art. This will provide an overview for the following chapters because the themes discussed in the literature review are closely related to the structure of the research.

This research involved undertaking questionnaire surveys in each of the three spaces, semi-structured interviews were carried out with important stakeholders involved in Dunedin‟s public art (See Appendix B). These methods will be identified and discussed further in Chapter Three.

Chapters Four and Five addresses the first and second research questions in relation to the results found from both the questionnaire survey and the interviews conducted. Chapter Four focuses on the amenities that are required to provide for a „good‟ public space, specifically looking at the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens as distinctive public spaces.

Chapter Five addresses the second research question and explores how public art contributes to creating „good‟ public spaces, including all the three artworks and their effects mentioned in Chapter One. Chapter six, the concluding chapter, draws the findings and discussion Chapter Five explores, together discusses limitations and makes suggestions for future research that the current study highlights in relation to the contribution of public art in public spaces.

Chapter 2 Literature Review

2.1 Overview

This section will review a selection of literature available on art in public spaces. It is important to understand what public space is before discussing public art situated in the space because the existence of public space acts as a catalyst or a reason for public art. This literature review will be structured into three parts: Firstly, public space is discussed in relation to specific geographic literature while explaining the concept of Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre. Secondly, sociality of space in terms of people‟s perceptions and engagement with the public space will be discussed. Sociality of space looks at the social aspects that contribute to people‟s engagement and interaction in relation to how art is perceived and used in public spaces. These include democracy in public spaces, Massey‟s (2005) concept of „thrown-togetherness,‟ Amin‟s (2008) „situated multiplicity,‟ and Nigel Thrift‟s (2004) concept of „affect.‟ Thirdly, and leading on from the first two parts, the review will discuss public art in public space. For example, the concept of how important the term „public‟ is in public art is widely discussed in geography, so this review will discuss how the involvement of the public is integrated in public art leading to how public art is perceived in our cityscapes. This chapter will demonstrate why public art is a significant part of public spaces in our cities today.

2.2 What is a public space?

Public space is a city space which is open to the general public such as parks, plazas, beaches, recreational areas and outdoor spaces (Ghel, 2011; Goheen, 1998; Hoskyns, 2014; Parkinson, 2012). Any space in a city which is not privately owned or confined to a building but is accessible to everyone for free is considered a public space (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Zukin, 1995). The accessibility of public space leads to freedom of speech and democratic behaviours where people don‟t feel restricted. This concept of public space being available for the general public to gather is covered widely by some scholars, as this quote by Ash Amin (2008, p. 5) describes:

A city‟s streets, parks, squares and other shared spaces have been seen as symbols of collective well-being and possibility, expressions of achievement and aspiration by urban leaders and visionaries, sites of public encounter and formation of civic culture, and significant spaces of political deliberation and agonistic struggle.

Here, it is evident that public spaces are seen as spaces where people meet and gather together for a variety of reasons. Public spaces could also be a site where public discussions and a communal feeling between people who visit the spaces on a regular basis are initiated. This is understood by Amin as „civic culture‟ (Amin, 2008). Civic culture is where people from different backgrounds come together in a public space to carry out various activities (Amin, 2008; Goheen, 1998). This also gives an opportunity for people to encounter new people or discover more about the space that they are in. This communal aspect encountered in public spaces is expressed by Goheen where he states “citizens create meaningful public space by expressing their attitudes, asserting their claims and using it for their own purposes” (Goheen, 1998, p.479). Verbal and emotional expressions asserted in public space also seem to be important in defining the space in terms of how it is used by the public (Cresswell, 2013).

Clearly a public space is a place for the „public.‟ As Mitchell (1995, p.108) states “public space is that space where „the public‟ is formed and thus social and cultural rules governing public behaviour predominate.” Therefore, public space signifies the way the public behaves and interacts with each other. Spaces shape and are shaped by norms and rules. Amin (2008) and Goheen (1998) do not discuss governance or rules in the society, but rather the ways the social structure of the public space creates the atmosphere that is seen and encountered in the space. Mitchell (1995) takes a step further by suggesting public engagement and interaction inevitably leads to the formation of particular rules and governance in the public space.

The preceding discussion suggests that people create meaning in public spaces as they engage with it over time. The public spaces also convey meanings to the public as people interact with their spaces in a variety of ways (Goheen, 1998; Neil, 2009). These ideas of public space being shaped by people who engage with it, and simultaneously shaping those who engage with it, is encapsulated by Lefebvre‟s concept of oeuvre (Lefebvre, 1996).

2.2.1 Oeuvre

Lefebvre (1996) in his concept of „oeuvre‟ conveys the significance of public spaces in generating people‟s emotions and feelings in relation to the space in which they interact. Oeuvre is a creative activity that takes place within the public spaces of a city and public art contributes to those creative activities. Lefebvre (1996) describes the city as a place for encounters and exchanges between entities as well as other people and public spaces act as a catalyst for such encounters (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Mitchell, 2014). Oeuvre is the name given to the creative process that is induced in the public space (Lefebvre, 1996). The character of the public space is important in defining how people feel about the space that they visit (Neil, 2009; Parkinson, 2012). Public space‟s role in the city is to provide a space for public recreation and to provide meaningful spaces within cityscapes to enhance social interaction, promote the feeling of community and the sociality of the public space (Amin, 2008; Ghel, 2011).

For Lefebvre (1996), the city is a two way relationship where the city is built for people and the people make the city what it is. Public space is an important social part of the city where human activity is at the forefront of public space and the people in the city give the public space meaning shaping its identity and characteristics (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Lefebvre, 1996). Lefebvre (1996) looks at how people‟s thoughts and behaviours acts in shaping the city through oeuvre. As I understand it, oeuvre is a noun which suggests a process of the formation of cityscapes. It is important to think about people as shaping the oeuvre and also being shaped by the way city spaces are formed.

The concept of oeuvre illustrates the intricacies of a public space in the city as they are shaped by and shape the people who use them (Lefebvre, 1996). The creative activity of people in the city along gives public space significance (Mitchell, 2014; Neil, 2009). It is important to understand this concept of oeuvre in relation to how people interact with their public spaces as creativity gives form to public space. Oeuvre can also lead to the concept of „sociality‟ as people are central to the creative processes of the built environment (Lefebvre, 1996). The next section will look at sociality of public space, mainly focussing on people‟s engagement with public space and how this is perceived to be a positive effect for public spaces.

2.3 Sociality of public space

The various emotions and feelings that drive people to communicate with one another and form a collective social network in public spaces can be thought of as sociality (Sharp et al, 2005; Zebracki, 2013). Sociality of space contributes to creating vibrancy in public sphere by adding meanings to how people interact (Lossau & Stevens, 2014). A sense of inclusivity where people feel welcome and is shaped in part by the nature of that space contributes to sociality, diversity and engagement where a mix of people and activities in the space create vibrancy (Anderson, 2013). For example, public art can cause a sense of inclusivity among people where they can create a communal atmosphere contributing to social inclusion. This concept of sociality of public space can be better understood through concepts illustrated in literature, through understanding democracy in public spaces where people‟s right to voice opinions play an important role in public spaces. This engagement with space along with other activities present and coming together contributes to Massey‟s „thrown-togetherness‟ which also represents Amin‟s (2008) „situated multiplicity.‟ The reactions of people from the multiplicity in the space, can be thought of being „affective.‟

2.3.1 Democracy in public spaces

The democratic practices of the city can contribute to how people utilize the public space. For instance, if a space is thought of as welcoming where many people are free to assert their opinions, this might create a sense of inclusion and the space can be thought of as being democratic. As Mitchell (2014) argues, the structure of the public space can form a sense of inclusion or exclusion. Democracy of public spaces is an important aspect Massey tries to convey in her works and many other geographers have also discussed this issue (Hoskyns, 2014; Massey, 2005; Mitchell, 2014; Parkinson, 2012). These scholars argue that political events or protests can be thought of as giving a voice to the people where public space provides the site for such democratic activities (Neil, 2009). The fact that people‟s voices are heard in public spaces gives them a sense of democratic power in their city because such spaces exist (Hoskyns, 2014). Democracy contributes to how people express themselves in the public space, for instance, having a freedom of speech to express oneself in a public space can make the public space seem democratic (Amin, 2008; Mitchell, 2014; Pollack & Sharp, 2011).

Democratic spaces provide equal opportunity for the general public without discriminating (Mitchell, 2014). Usually, public spaces are inclusive of people without discrimination as they are free for all to use and this creates a sense of democracy or equal rights among people (Parkinson, 2012; Pile, 1996). This forms an important aspect of public spaces in democratic societies such as New Zealand, which will be the place of focus for this research. The public also have the chance to voice their opinions in the public space giving them freedom of speech and the ability to create change in the space (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Goheen, 1998; Zukin, 1995). The idea of democratic space is closely tied to concepts of sociality and to the following section of „thrown-togetherness‟ shows the democratic nature of the public space which allows for more interaction and coming together of various entities in one space.

2.3.2 Massey’s thrown-togetherness

Doreen Massey suggests that when people explore the city spaces, many elements are involved in making the public space what it is. This includes the character of the public space, the people surrounding it, physical structures present in the space such as art or fountains and even the traffic or the noise from the streets can impact the way the space is used and understood (Massey, 2005). The surrounding environs such as cafes, restaurants and theatres can also make the space more welcoming and inclusive (Massey, 2005). With the combination of all these elements coming together, people have different experiences and perceive the space individually rather than collectively (Massey, 2005). The ways in which these spaces contribute to creating a community and bringing people together for various reasons is important for Massey and she terms this „thrown-togetherness.‟ The combination of many entities which adds value to the space is similar to the concepts conveyed in situated multiplicity. Massey (2005) considers this important because public space acts as a stimulator for a combination of thoughts, activities and creative encounters to take place. Here, the normative dimension adds a „value‟ to the character of the „thrown- togetherness‟ which is depicted as something „good‟ for the public space. The normative dimension is the positive effects the public space has on people and people‟s engagement within these spaces brings about the positive elements of the space. This concept of „thrown togetherness‟ acted as an inspiration for Ash Amin‟s (2008)„situated multiplicity‟ which will be discussed in the next section.

2.3.3 Situated multiplicity

Influenced by Massey‟s (2005) concept of „thrown-togetherness‟ Ash Amin (2008) describes „situated multiplicity‟ as “thrown togetherness of bodies, mass and matter and of many uses and needs in a shared physical space” (Amin, 2008, p.8). This is the combination of material things which forms a collision of different entities coming together in one single public space (Amin, 2008; Amin & Thrift, 2002; Massey, 2005). The material things encountered can be in the form of the public space, the buildings, the art and the people that collide in specific and situated ways that contributes to making the public spaces unique, interesting and vibrant (Amin & Thrift, 2002). It is the “mingling of bodies, human and non-human in close physical proximity, regulated by the rhythms of invention, order and control generated by multiplicity” (Amin, 2008, p.13). An example of this is a form of interactive sculpture located in a square which causes people to do a variety of physical activities to interact with the sculpture and with other people who do the same. This interaction with the sculpture and with other elements in the square would cause multiplicity as a consequence of a situated space.

Ash Amin (2008, p. 18) suggests that there is “symbolic projection of wonderment” which is when a physical material in the built environment causes emotional responses in people such as evoking deeper meaning of a specific object seen in a public space. He gives the example of the Angel of the North sculpture by Anthony Gormley (See Figure 2.1). He states “Angel of the North in Gateshed, England, invites public reflection on the appropriate symbol of local unity and togetherness” (Amin, 2008, p. 18). Amin (2008) also discusses Banksy as a street artist who “seeks to raise awareness of contemporary geopolitical indignities by connecting ordinary people going about their daily business to distant events through graphic images” (Amin, 2008, p, 18). These are some ways the character of public spaces influences the society or community in the city, also adding vibrancy through street art and sculptures present in public spaces. This concept of vibrancy is evident in Amin‟s work on multiplicity where he suggests that the sensory elements present in our public spaces adds to people‟s emotions and expectations of the public realm (Amin, 2008).

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Figure 2.1: Angel of North sculpture by Anthony Gormley. Source: David Wilson Clarke, Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fly-Angel.jpg

This clearly demonstrates the impact social structures have on public space and the ways in which human activities observed in the public space can influence the behaviours and emotions people feel in the public realm (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Hawkins, 2013; Hoskyns, 2014). The way the physical atmosphere is shaped in our cities can also influence people‟s thoughts and actions in the public space. For instance, we can see that public art, although just a part of public space, can be important in bringing together a public life or a sociality of space which is the collective organisation of social groups contributing to co-operative societies (Lossau & Stevens, 2014). To take this concept a bit further and to understand how people perceive stimuli present in public spaces, particularly public art, the concept of „affect‟ is useful.

2.3.4 Affect

Affect is a phenomenon that is used to describe the progression or transformation the body goes through which is caused by the presence of a particular stimulus (Anderson, 2013; Thein, 2005; Thrift, 2004). This stimulus can be anything, varying from another human being or a physical object or entity present (Thrift, 2004). As Nigel Thrift states “affect can be attached to things, people, ideas, sensations, relations, and any other number of things, including other affects” (Thrift, 2004, p.61). This transformation or intensity in the body usually occurs before we label it as a feeling or an emotion, “examples of affect include things like a shiver down the spine that results from a particular encounter - or perhaps a sense of revulsion as it is experienced by a body” (Cresswell, 2013, p.230). Anderson (2006, p. 735) refers to an affectual encounter as a “transpersonal capacity which a body has to be affected (through an affection) and to affect (as the result of modifications)” that is caused by something that is experienced. Although feelings and emotions are part of affect that the body experiences, emotions are distinct because emotion is a consequence of affect. Affect takes place before a particular emotion has been felt as a result of the stimuli (Anderson, 2013; Pile, 1996; 2010; 2011).

For the purpose of this research, public art can act as a stimulus for affect or the bodily transformation that is caused in people when they encounter the art or encounter other people engaging with public art (Cresswell, 2013; Thein, 2005). As Amin (2008) states, a sense of wonderment and surprise is sometimes provoked in people when they come across artworks in the public realm. This response can be named as affective where the public art instils a particular bodily affect (Cresswell, 2013; Thrift, 2004). Tim Cresswell (2013) includes affect as a part of non-representational theory (NRT), which was developed largely by Nigel Thrift. NRT emphasizes the practices and actions performed by human beings rather than just representations of what people do (Thrift, 2004). For example, people‟s responses to stimuli are emitted by the body usually as part of a particular engagement in an activity. Such bodily responses create a “sense of place” through “the rhythmic interplay between person and environment” (Dixon & Straughan, 2013, p.37). Some researchers such as Ben Anderson (2013) include emotions as part of the process of affects. But Nigel Thrift (2004) argues that it is difficult to distinguish affect from emotions, although emotions come after affect. For the purpose of this study, affect will be treated as a phenomenon that comes before emotion and as something that creates emotive responses in people.

The concept of affect differs from oeuvre and situated multiplicity. Affect considers bodily changes caused after the events have occurred as a consequence of engagement or movements in human beings. In contrast, oeuvre describes a creative activity that takes place and not necessarily how people feel about their actions (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Lefebvre, 1996; Thrift, 2004). Situated multiplicity also describes actions of people and the senses that are in play when people explore public spaces but does not consider the tangible feelings caused by those actions (Amin, 2008). Affect takes situated multiplicity a step further to demonstrate the reactions people might feel based on the stimuli present in the public space. Situated multiplicity looks more at the various stimuli present in the space which can aid in bringing people together in democratic, socially cohesive ways (Dixon & Straughan, 2013). These concepts will be understood in relation to public art in public spaces in the next section which looks at relevant literature on public art.

2.4 Public art in public space

Public art contributes to beautifying, signifying and symbolising the public space in which it is located (Lossau, & Stevens, 2014; Mitchell, 1995). Sometimes the public‟s perception of the artwork is important in determining the role art plays in the public space as people have different perceptions and emotions attached to public art (Zebracki, 2012). The art in the space activates the emotions and feelings of people as they engage with it (Pollack & Sharp, 2011). Public art can add to the character of the space and contribute to its inclusivity and sociality (Amin & Thrift, 2002). Martin Zebracki (2013, p.303) states “the fundamental purpose of public art is shaped by its publics, which comprise a multifaceted audience.” Here, it is clear that the public‟s viewpoint is essential in determining the overall effect of the artwork (Zebracki, 2013).

We can connect the concepts explored above to the way public art is perceived and enacted (Pollack, & Sharp, 2011). Public art situated in public space can be thought of as oeuvre which is an act of creativity because when people engage with the public space the art is situated in, there are multiple factors including the environment or ambience around them that creates „moments‟ where creative thought is activated which can be termed as oeuvre (Cant & Morris, 2006; Lefebvre, 1996). The way artists curate their art for public purposes to ponder over the art in the public space is also a part of oeuvre because the artist considers the physical environment to situate the art and the impact it could have on the public (Hawkins, 2013; Lefebvre, 1996). Public art contributes to situated multiplicity or thrown-togetherness of a space as it collides with all the other elements present in the public space giving people a sense of surprise or wonderment or provoking thought and contemplation (Amin, 2008).

Art creates affective possibilities as a response to stimuli (public art) in a given public space through the interaction between the body and the object or entities (Pile, 1996; 2010; 2011). Other elements such as how people are gathering around the artwork, who is engaging with it, their previous experiences with public art, and the various emotions public art has on the person can all cause affect as a response to the public art in the public space (Pile, 2011). Affect is a result of complex and messy interactions between public art and the space in which it is located which contributes to the „thrown-togetherness‟ and „sociality‟ of the space (Pile, 2010; 2011; Amin, 2008).

Interaction and engagement with public art and the overall structure of the public space which allows this to happen is also highlighted in geographic literature. Some scholars look at the role art plays in public spaces and suggest that there are many viewpoints in relation to the way people perceive public art and the type of art they are interacting with contributes to overall effect (Hawkins, 2013; Lossau & Stevens, 2014). The emotions the public art reveals in people can be different as people engage with artworks because “public art is no different from art in general where maters of taste and preference become paramount” (Sharp et al, 2005, p. 1001). For art like bronze statues, the significance of being located in a public space can have greater significance through time as it “can help to mellow public opinion to artworks so they become part of not just the taken-for-granted but also of the accepted landscape of the city” (Sharp et al, 2005, p. 1001).

Public art can become a symbolic landscape of the city where people gather such as the Nelson Pillar in Trafalgar Square in London. As Whelan (2003 p. 206) states “it (Nelson Pillar) became a popular meeting place and viewing point...and a symbol of the city centre which transcended any political connotations.” This causes interaction and communal gathering in public spaces around a particular piece of public art. Not all interaction is taken in a positive light as even taking action towards vandalising public art can also be thought of as interaction by the public (Sharp et al, 2005; Zebracki, 2013). Different types of public art can lead to different kinds of interaction and engagement. Static art can be good for contemplating the significance of the artwork whereas interactive sculptures can be physically and tangibly interacted with (Lossau, & Stevens, 2014). There is little literature on the ways in which different types of artworks in public spaces can create possibilities for different kinds of engagement. The current study seeks to contribute to addressing this gap.

The public‟s engagement in decision making around public art is also important and contested (Zebracki, 2013). A good example is the Tilted Arc which was a site specific sculpture erected by Richard Serra, one of the most reputed artists in the USA during 1980s (See Figure 2.2). Located in Federal Plaza of New York in 1981 it was highly controversial because of its public location (Finkelpearl, 2000). Residents and business people around the location held different views about the sculpture which led to a petition against it (Blake, 1993; Zebracki, 2010). People said that its elongated view blocked them from the view of the city or crossing over the space in which the sculpture was located, leading to a judicial hearing which contributed to the removal of the sculpture (Finkelpearl, 2000). Public art can lead to such debates where public viewpoints are emphasised over the artist‟s work (Lossau, & Stevens, 2014). The removal of the sculpture Tilted Arc can be thought of as an interactive process by the public to voice their opinion on art in public space (Sharp et al, 2005).

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Figure 2.2: Tilted Arc by Richard Serra Source: Duplex Arte + Arquitectura, www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/flashpoints/visualarts/tiltedarc_big1.html

Some geography and urban planning literature view public art, particularly street art, as a sign of urban revitalisation (Visconti et al, 2010). Street art is viewed as being a focal point of renewing urban streets and designing them to gain public attention in desolated areas without much urban growth (Garcia, 2004). Events are usually held in these areas to market city regeneration in the particular area (Pratt, 2009). This is similar to the street art that can be seen in the Warehouse Precinct which is an old industrial area without much activity and dilapidated buildings but is being revitalised by the Dunedin City Council (Dunedin City Council, 2015). Other cities such as Sydney, Australia and Glasgow, Scotland have undergone similar processes where public art has been used to revitalise particular areas by attracting residents and businesses into the district (Garcia, 2004).

Using art to revitalise particular regions of the city can transform the way the space is used on a daily basis. Street art, similar to other types of public art in public spaces, provides accessibility where people walk and explore the site (Pratt, 2009). Geographers and urban planners who have written about this differ in their perspectives on urban revitalisation. Urban planning literatures consider the whole design aspect of the region and include embellishing the public spaces with trees, and street furniture. In contrast, geography literature considers the two way relationship between people and their relationship to the public spaces where urban revitalisation and the role of art acts as a stimulator (Garcia, 2004; Pratt, 2009; Visconti et al, 2010).

2.5 Summary

Overall, the literature selected in this chapter has focussed on how the influence of public art on public space can be explained through concepts such as oeuvre, democratic values in the spaces, thrown-togetherness, situated multiplicity and the concept of affect and sociality (Lefebvre, 1996; Mitchell, 2014; Neil, 2009; Parkinson, 2012). Public art shapes perceptions of the public space, such as how inclusive it is. Positive or negative responses from the public were also recorded and different forms of public art can generate different emotions, affects and forms of democratic engagement among the public (Lossau, & Stevens, 2014). What is notable, however, is the lack of concentration on how specific types of public artworks influence the public and the space, people‟s interactions with artworks and their reaction to the artworks in public space. The aim of this research is to contribute to filling these gaps. The next chapter (Chapter 3) focuses on the methods this research uses to understand how Dunedin‟s public perceive public art and engage with Dunedin‟s public spaces.

Chapter 3 Research Methods

3.1 Context of research

In order to set out the research methods adopted for this study, this chapter considers the ways in which qualitative research was used to understand individual‟s perceptions of public art and public space in the built environment. Qualitative methods were employed for this research because it places humans at the forefront of the process of interaction with their environment (Trainor & Graue, 2013; Winchester & Rofe, 2010).

The nature of this research topic supports a conceptual framework where human engagement and experiences with public space will be considered. A conceptual framework is a series of theories and concepts to bring together specific ideas and assumptions (Schein, 1997). The theoretical framework in this research has been discussed in Chapter 2 with concepts of „sociality‟ and how public art can affect public spaces positively. Considering concepts of „sociality,‟ it is important for understanding how social processes of the ways individuals form meanings with the art in the physical environment (Davies et al, 2014). To support this, interview methods and a questionnaire survey were undertaken to explore how people perceive public art in public space, and the importance of both public art and public space for our urban fabric.

The methodology of study used for this research will be explained in the following sections of this chapter. Then, the two qualitative methods used will be used individually to explain why they are essential techniques for this research.

3.2 Qualitative research

Scholars suggest that qualitative methods are used to investigate people‟s experiences, social processes and real life situations (Bradshaw & Stratford, 2010; Winchester & Rofe, 2010). Qualitative research can employ a broad range of methods but typically it can be used to study “feelings, emotions, attitudes, perceptions and cognition” based on human behaviour (Trainor & Graue, 2013; Winchester & Rofe, 2010, p.4). It can give researchers an understanding of people‟s realities and thought patterns (Bradshaw & Stratford, 2010; Davies et al, 2014). Qualitative research in social sciences also tries to attach meanings people generate to understand their interpretation of their various experiences in life (Trainor & Graue, 2013). The social context of people‟s actions, human interaction with the environment and the way this affects people‟s life on a regular basis is also a part of qualitative research (Bradshaw & Stratford, 2010; Davies et al, 2014; Winchester & Rofe, 2010). The main methods used in this research for understanding public art in public spaces are semi-structured interviews and questionnaire survey to understand the human elements that are involved in interactions with public art and public space. These methods were used to answer each research question stated in Chapter 1. The questionnaire survey and the semi-structured interview are both used to answer the research questions. In particular, the survey focused on the three case study sites.

3.2.1 Semi-structured interviews

Interviews provide an important insight into people‟s opinions and perceptions about a particular topic (Davies et al, 2014; Dunn, 2010). It also allows an interpretation as to why things are the way they are and an “investigation of complex behaviours and motivations” (Dunn, 2010, p.101). They help in understanding the diverse thoughts people have and differences in the way people perceive entities or issues (Trainor & Graue, 2013).

Nine main stakeholders who had a wide knowledge about public art in public spaces were interviewed. They were all contacted by email and asked if they would be willing to participate in the research. The participants included four people from the City Council (two elected representatives and two officers), a lecturer from Dunedin School of Art, a student from University of Otago‟s Art History department, an art professional from Dunedin, and Julia Morrison, the artist of the Worm sculpture in Dunedin‟s Botanic Gardens. One stakeholder withdrew from the study. The interviews were conducted in June and July 2015. The location of the interview varied and was somewhere convenient for the participants. Some interviews took place in cafés and others in participant‟s work places. The interviews were between 30 and 60 minutes each.

Interviews used a topic of public space and public art as an interview guide. The questions that were asked in guide with questions that provided structure to the discussion but that were able to be modified in the interview depending on the nature of the conversation during the interview. Adopting a semi-structured approach was important for this research because it provided flexibility over the questions that were asked allowing the conversation to develop in different directions depending on the research participant‟s interests and knowledge (Dunn, 2010). The questions were divided into six themes: introductory questions, characteristics of public space, art in public spaces, governance of public art, and the role of public art in Dunedin. All the interviews were recorded and transcribed. Some interview questions varied depending on the expertise of the person (see topic guides in Appendix A).

As a researcher, it proved important to maintain a positive congenial relationship with the stakeholders and to gain critical opinions and insights into the participant‟s views on the topic. Dunn (2010) describes this as the interview-informant relationship whereby a professional stance is maintained in the conversation during interviews. As these stakeholders were in respected positions in their field it was important to maintain a professional relationship and to be open to diverse viewpoints. Informed consent was secured from all the stakeholders, as stated in the ethics form for this research. The informed consent stated that the participant would be anonymous unless they requested otherwise and that the interview was voluntary without any pressure to participate or answer any of the questions asked. All the stakeholders signed the consent form (See Section 3.4) before formally taking part in the interview (See Appendix C for copies of the information sheet and consent form). Julia Morrison requested to be identified by her name but all the other stakeholders were identified by their professional positions.

3.2.2 Questionnaire method

Questionnaires are important for gathering the opinions and social experiences of individuals or groups where “they can provide insights into relevant social trends, processes, values, attitudes and interpretations” (McGuirk & O‟Neill, 2010, p.192; Preston, 2009). As this topic about the engagement of people with public art in public spaces is not necessarily sensitive, it was thought appropriate to use a questionnaire survey for this research (Preston, 2009). The questionnaire method was designed to answer both the research questions which are:

- What are the characteristics of „good‟ public spaces?

- How does public art contribute to „good‟ public spaces?

A questionnaire survey was used for this research asking members of the Dunedin public, who were present around the public art in three public spaces to participate in a five minute survey about the public space and the public art located in the public space (See Appendix B). The three locations were the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon, the Worm sculpture in the Botanical Gardens, and street art around Bond and Vogel streets which are sites of new forms of street art (See Chapter 1).

McGuirk & O‟Neill (2010) suggests that when approaching participants the researcher needs to make sure that the participants have the knowledge of the topic they are being asked to take part in. This was usually the case with this questionnaire because people who were engaged around the public spaces knew the art they were engaging with or had an idea about what to answer regarding public spaces. The surveys were conducted in June and July 2015 in all the three public spaces where the art was located and were mostly done in the afternoon on days the weather seemed promising so that it was likely people would use the public space. In the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens, people who were using the space such as sitting or lingering in the space were approached and asked if they would be willing to participate in a five minute questionnaire. In regard to the street art, people who were walking around the street art and people in the shops or cafes near the street art were approached.

A mixture of open ended questions and likert scale questions (where 1 was strongly agree and 5 was strongly disagree) were asked in the questionnaire to gain the perceptions of the general public of the public art in Dunedin‟s public spaces (See Appendix B). The questionnaires were in paper form with face to face interaction with the individuals who were participating in it. Some questionnaires were filled out by the participants and others were administered by the researcher. Questionnaires were modified for the street art location in Bond and Vogel streets because it was a different kind of public space (in comparison to the Botanical Gardens and the Octagon) as it was less likely that people would linger and interact with the art (See Appendix B).

A total of 68 questionnaires were collected for all the three types of public art. Of these, 27 questionnaires were collected in the Botanic Gardens, 25 questionnaires were collected in the Octagon, and 16 questionnaires were collected in Bond and Vogel streets. All participants consented to participate in the questionnaire before they took part and were offered an information sheet (See Appendix B).

3.3 Analysis of methods

The data collected from the semi-structured interviews and questionnaires were analyzed through coding different themes for content analysis (Cope, 2010; Trainor & Graue, 2013). Data was analysed in two ways, by using inductive and deductive methods (Panelli, 2003). Where the coding themes emerged from literary concepts and influenced real life data collection, they were thought to be deductive, whereas if the codes were generated through data which contributed to the literary concepts it was considered to be inductive (Panelli, 2003). Some themes were reliant on deductive methods such as vibrant and engaging public spaces, role of art in public spaces, variety and mixture of public art in public spaces, importance of public spaces to cities, interaction with public art, public art projects and public discussions around public art. However, some other codes were inductively produced such as gentrification and community bond. Most were deductive codes as the literature greatly influenced the analysis of data. These codes were mostly attained from the structure of the interview and the answers to the questions in the interview (See Appendix A).

The questionnaire survey data was transferred into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The results from this survey were analysed to also understand the differing viewpoints from the general public. Basic descriptive statistics were used to identify trends in opinion through the likert scale questions.

3.4 Ethics and positionality

The project received approval from the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee before the research took place (See Appendix C). As noted above, all the participants in both research methods used provided informed consent before they participated in the research. Interview participant‟s identities have been protected through the use of identifiers such as Street Art volunteer, Dunedin arts professional, City Councillor 1, City Councillor 2, lecturer from Dunedin‟s School of Art, community arts advisor, and art history student. One participant the Worm artist Julia Morrison, asked to be identified. Confidentiality was protected throughout the research.

Therefore, this chapter has provided details of the research process. Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 will explore the data collected in relation to the research questions identified in Chapter 1.

Chapter 4 Reflections of a ‘good’ public space

4.1 Overview

This chapter aims to answer the first research question posed in Chapter 1: What are the characteristics of a „good‟ public space? The interview and survey results along with secondary sources will be used to answer this question. The landscape features including amenities and the design of the public space such as the importance of seating, artwork and green spaces will be discussed in the first section of this chapter. This discussion of the physical environment will then lead to how people use these spaces and how these public spaces are people-oriented and shared pedestrian spaces which facilitate interaction between people. The combination of the characteristics of the physical space and people using those spaces for various activities contributes to making the space vibrant and engaging. This vibrancy in a public space which is achieved through the two-way relationship between people and the built environment is what makes for a good public space. This chapter considers the questionnaire survey data from the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens as examples of public spaces where people can linger and spend time in but does not include the survey data from street art because Bond and Vogel streets have a different character and do not provide the same amenities as a defined public space.

4.2 Landscape and amenities of public space

As illustrated in the literature review, the design of the public aids its ambience and shapes its use. This is evident in Lefebvre‟s (1996) concept of oeuvre where the creative activity of a group of individuals contributes in shaping the public space and the way the built environment is presented gives an essence to the landscape by how it is used. This idea was conveyed by a Dunedin arts professional in an interview when he said “the personality of your city is around the environment of that city. It‟s about the built environment, the architecture, green spaces.” This shows that the landscape of the public space is important to consider because the ambience or the „personality‟ of that space is defined by the way it is built. Things such as “access to food, toilets and the design of a public space has to be considered” (Interview with Julia Morrison, 2015) because in order to make the space functional, basic amenities are required.

Seating was one of the amenities found to be an important element for public spaces as indicated by Perrem (2009, p. 70):

In places where positive approaches to seating are taken, people are more likely to stay for longer periods. The benefit of people spending more time in public spaces is that spaces then become more self-regulating entities, and also focal points for the expression of a city's particular identity and culture. Consistently empty public spaces can often seem quite lonely, uninviting and intimidating, while vibrant and lively spaces will be more attractive to people and draw them in through a socially self reinforcing process.

Here, Perrem (2009) suggests that seating adds vibrancy to the public space. Seating acts as an important function in public space because it gives people a place to take a break from the fast paced city life and linger in the space (Perrem, 2009; Zimring et al, 2005). It also contributes to making the space more inviting for residents to spend time in the public realm.

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Figure 4.1: Seating and green spaces in the Botanic Gardens. Source: Author

The seating available in both the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens were praised by some of the survey respondents (See Figure 4.1). These responses included:

- “seating - good place to sit and take a break”(Survey# 50);

- “A beautiful garden, varied, beautiful plants and good seating” (Survey# 26);

- “Seating is good” (Survey# 26)

As is evident by these responses, seating gives people an opportunity to be present in the public space for a long time while engaging with green spaces, sculptures or statues (artworks), plant life, café life and in the case of the Octagon the seating enables people to glimpse the human activity occurring around the central city. As an interview with a City Councillor suggests “you want places that people want to spend time in rather than travel through. So, public space as a destination and we do have that such as the Botanic Gardens, it is an example of a public space that we do want to go to and spend time in” (City Councillor 2, 2015). The amenities available in the Botanic Gardens make people want to stay there and spend time in the location. Seating is one of those amenities which allow people to stay in a place for a longer time and observe the on-goings around the public space. This indicates that the seating available in a public space forms an important part of defining the character of a „good‟ public space.

Having green spaces in public space is another amenity that affects the built environment. Having more trees, plants, lawns and natural habitat in public spaces is not only attractive for people, encouraging them to spend time in the space, but also has proven health benefits (Lee & Maheswaran, 2010; Mass et al, 2006;). This is because it promotes walking, exercise and provides a breather for people (Lee & Maheswaran, 2010). People are also more likely to use green spaces such as parks for rest and recreation as Mass et al (2006, p. 587) suggests: “many people experience nature as an environment where they can rest and recover from daily stress. In the hectic society in which we live there is a growing need for nature as a source of relaxation and recreation.” Public spaces are usually known to offer such green spaces for their residents to add a feeling of nature and wellbeing to city life (Mass et al, 2006).

Preference for green space was evident in the questionnaire survey results, given as one of the reasons respondents visited both the Botanic Gardens and the Octagon. Table 4.1 highlights the responses given by survey respondents in these two public spaces in Dunedin. It shows that green space played an important role for their visit to the space.

Although other amenities were also mentioned, the availability of trees and natural elements in the public space influenced people‟s attractiveness to the area. People associated green spaces as being „peaceful‟ and „tranquil‟ indicating that it provided them with a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban city life.

Another amenity that contributes to a good public space is public art. Some literature highlights that the identity of the city is in a way shaped by the way the public space is built and the amenities available in the space such as public art can signify symbols to the city (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Goheen, 1998; Nakamura, 2015). Artworks in the public space act as an important element of the space and as an amenity that is present for people to identify and assert meaning to the space. Some interview respondents supported this:

Chalice, which is a work by Neil Dawson is very much now part of Cathedral Square [in Christchurch]. There‟s another sculpture it‟s a globe sculpture again by Neil Dawson which is suspended above Civic Square in Wellington and those two sculptures have become part of the branding of the cities which I think is really interesting (Interview with Dunedin arts professional, 2015).

The above quote suggests that art acts as an amenity in the public space which is used for branding to create a specific image of the city for people to identify with. In turn this contributes to determining the public space. This is also evident in the Treehouses for Swamp Dwellers, an artwork by Julia Morrison that has become part of Christchurch city‟s identity:

It is a sensual experience and has a function. Treehouses for Swamp Dwellers, for example, is a series of ten little rooms which have joined together which can be moved around and relocated if need be. It is a catalyst for all sorts of activities; reading, shelter, planters, play maze, seating, light spectacle etc. (Interview with Julia Morrison, 2015)

This suggests that art can be an important signifier not only of the public space but of the overall built environment. Art also creates possibilities in the environment and is always interpreted differently by different people. Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre supports this, as art in the built environment is construed as a creative activity which is part of the city‟s structure creating an ambience for the landscape.

Table 4.1: Survey respondents on why they visit public spaces

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Ash Amin (2008, p.5) also supports this as he considers public spaces as “symbols of

collective well-being and possibility, expressions of achievement and aspiration.” The way the public space is designed conveys these “expressions of achievement” depending on how the space is used. The presentation and ambience of the public space is important in making it a successful one. The public spaces available in the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens have been successful because of their positive ambience and welcoming characteristics. Therefore, it is important for public spaces to make use of seating, green space and public art as they are some of the key elements which represent a „good‟ public space. However, these amenities have deeper meaning only when they are used by people because public spaces are built for people as explained in the following section.

4.3 People-oriented public spaces

4.3.1 Inclusive and welcoming public spaces

People define the way public spaces are used in our cities. The landscape of public space would be of no use if people did not interact with the space (Amin & Thrift, 2002). Having a mix of people use the space and make the most of the amenities provided contributes to making the public space vibrant. One interview participant suggested “I think it‟s about the people and it‟s about having people coming in and out of it. So you can create a really amazing space that‟s all shiny and got monumental works popped in there but if the people are not there, it‟s not going to be a vibrant place” (Interview with community arts advisor, 2015). This indicates that people-oriented spaces are important, and what Ash Amin (2008) terms as „civic culture‟ is evident in vibrant public spaces as there is a communal feeling and wellbeing among the people in the space. Good public space also needs to feel welcoming and invite people to stay in the space. For example a city councillor indicated in an interview:

Public spaces need to feel really open and welcoming for everybody. I think some of our public spaces can feel a little bit intimidating for some people and I don‟t think that‟s what public space should be about. I think they should be fun and be the sort of places that encourage different thinking or curiosity or exploration. Places that people want to interact with.

I think the presence of people is really important and what encourages people are good places for people to sit or do things for people to look at, comfortable places that are facing the sun or enjoyable or interesting aspects to a space (Interview with City Councillor 1, 2015)

Here, City Councillor 1 suggests that including different kinds of people in the public space is important in making it more welcoming to everyone regardless of their gender, race, age, ethnicity or background. Having the mix of activities in the public space was considered important for a good public space by seven out of eight interview respondents. For example, in an interview with a Street Art volunteer suggested:

Earlier in the day when there is a greater mix of people in the space (the Octagon), whether they are working in business, whether they are mums with kids, whether they are families or elderly people that create a really nice vibrancy I think. I think it‟s around that accessibility (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

This sense of vibrancy is evident in Ash Amin‟s (2008) concept of situated multiplicity (See Chapter 2). The coming together of different kinds of people interacting with the public space in different ways create a “thrown-togetherness” of various elements, in one single setting (Massey, 2005), which can create lively and active spaces for people to engage with. As a Dunedin arts professional states in an interview:

It‟s about giving people opportunities to kick a ball or to have their lunch, to shelter, to be educated and to congregate; to sit in a café on the edge potentially, to skateboard, to play. To me, activating and engaging public spaces are ones that give you multiple opportunities to do things (Interview with Dunedin arts professional, 2015).

The above quote indicates that having many activities take place in the public space is important in creating engaging public spaces. This is related to inclusive spaces because making a space inclusive gives opportunities for diversity and engagement in the space. Goheen (1998) also suggests that public spaces are places for everyone without discrimination where people create meanings based on their actions and the way they express themselves in the public spaces of the city. The characteristic of inclusive space is such that it is open for a mix of people, allowing them to activate the space by interacting with it. So, for a public space to be positive, it first needs to be inclusive as this provides opportunity for diversity and engagement. For example, an interview with a City Councillor suggests that:

It should be vibrant and evolving and people should feel a connection to it and to feel comfortable there because the public belongs to everyone. It is contested because everyone has different ideas and different ambitions for what they want their public space to be, that‟s great but it shouldn‟t privilege a particular group of people or class of people or a mode of transport (Interview with City Councillor 2, 2015).

Similarly, Street Art volunteer suggested “the number one thing is that public spaces have to be friendly for people and they have to be inviting for people. So what you really want to be doing is attracting people to spaces that they are going to spend more time in” (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015). Here, the research participant argues that inclusive spaces need to be a priority for good public spaces. In the questionnaire survey, 100% of the respondents said they felt welcome in both the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens as public spaces. This indicates that these two spaces are inclusive public spaces because how inviting a public space plays a part in determining whether it is an inclusive space for people to use. With street art, as there was no defined public space for people to sit and gather, people go to the space in their own time if they wish to view the street art and interact with it. The public space around the street art was not measured in the same way in this study because it differs in character.

Here, the concept of sociality of space which was discussed in the literature review is very relevant (see Chapter 2). The inclusive nature of these two public spaces showed that sociality of space was evident in the way people interacted and integrated with the public spaces (Lossau & Stevens, 2014). Responses in Table 4.2 and 4.3 show that there is a sense of sociality for the people who engage with the environment which in turn may allow for more social integration. Because the Botanic Garden was „beautiful‟ with „nice nature‟ and „friendly people,‟ it seemed to be an inclusive space which was open to everyone, enabling communal bonds among people to form in the public space (Amin & Thrift, 2002; Lossau & Stevens, 2014).

Table 4.2: Reasons for feeling welcome in the Octagon

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Table 4.3: Reasons for feeling welcome in the Botanic Gardens

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Figure 4.2: Graph depicting „sense of belonging‟

In the above graph (Figure 4.2) it is evident that a large number of respondents in both the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens felt that there was a sense of being with other people in the area. Amin (2008) suggests that where there is vibrancy in the public space, safety becomes less of an issue and people feel free to reveal their true nature in the open space. He suggests that people feel less threatened and are less threatening in shared spaces because of situated multiplicity where a lot of activities happen in the space shared space (Amin, 2008).

The reasons given by people for enjoying a shared space in the Botanic Gardens was that they could get to know other children and parents or families who were also playing in the garden. This caused social interaction and a sense of communal well-being for many families. People who came alone to the gardens found it tranquil and nice to spend time with themselves without anyone interrupting their peaceful experience. The space was thought to be:

- “beautiful” (Survey# 2)

- “peaceful” (Survey #8)

- “tranquil” (Survey# 8)

This suggests it was a good place to visit regardless of whether people came by themselves

or with families. It was also seen to be: “a façade barrier; breaks the barrier between strangers; no tension around the area; sense of relaxation; not in a hurry - a lot easier to connect with people around you” (Survey# 13). Such a communal space which was inclusive proved to be very useful in the Botanic Gardens, not only for enabling interaction with other people but also to have one‟s own space for themselves without interruption. In the Octagon, 65% of the respondents said they came alone to enjoy the space. However, most respondents said they get to meet interesting people during events and people around the area are generally friendly and nice.

Both the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens seemed to provide a sense of community for the respondents through providing a space in which people could socialize with new and well known people as stated by Survey number 35: “Provides a space to meet other people. Occasionally, I meet with friends for festivals and community engagement.” This interaction with other people also creates sociality of space as the community bond and feeling of belonging in the space creates inclusion and perception of a good public space.

4.3.2: Pedestrian zones

Pedestrianising public spaces is becoming more prominent in the 21st century (Zimring et al, 2005). This is so that people can have space to walk, shop, eat without the hassle of traffic. As Wooler et al (2012, p.16) suggest “transforming car-oriented streets into functional public spaces and pedestrianised environments has the potential to create environments that support active transport (e.g. walking and cycling), social interaction, and economic development.”The importance of building public spaces for people rather than for vehicles was emphasized in interviews and questionnaire surveys. For example, an interview with a Street Art volunteer suggested:

Spaces that are open to a full range of people, that isn‟t just about I need to drive through in my car, rather I go there because it‟s a really great space to spend time. I think inherently that you‟ve got to create a space that people want to go and spend time, not just to go and park and go away.

If I think about something like George Street or even the Octagon, anytime anyone proposes taking the cars out and making it a bit friendly for people to walk around - that‟s seen as being so negative. But I think that the conversations are coming up more and more now, so I think it‟s a change of generation. (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015)

Internationally pedestrian zones in and around squares and plazas have been found to increase accessibility for people, for example, Trafalgar Square in London [See Figure 4.3] (Nakamura, 2015; Wooller et al, 2012; Zimring et al, 2005). Many respondents in the survey suggested that they would like the Octagon to be closed off from traffic and be converted into a space for pedestrians only. However, as stated in the above quote by Street Art volunteer this is not perceived positively by the council although it could be a priority for the future. This idea was also reiterated in the questionnaire survey where many respondents suggested making the Octagon a pedestrian friendly zone by excluding all vehicles. Table 4.4 shows these results.

Sections 4.2 and 4.3 have shown that having good amenities in public space contributes to communal spaces where people feel welcome and invited. It is firstly important to have an inclusive space to bring diversity and engagement into the space. Sociality of space was evident in both these sections as bringing people into the space contributes to situated multiplicity and thrown-togetherness where the combination of different activities in a shared space creates more vibrancy and activity. Art has also played an important role in this chapter as an amenity. The next section will summarise this chapter and lead to the next chapter on public art in public spaces.

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Figure 4.3: Trafalgar Square, London. Source: Abariltur, Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/abariltur/8239198370

Table 4.4: Responses on pedestrian friendly zones

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4.4 Summary

From this chapter, it is clearly evident that a lot of characteristics are involved in making a „good‟ public space. Firstly, the amenities and the landscape of how the public space is built is important because it will not only determine how people use those amenities but also shape the overall ambience and feel of public space which in turn contribute to the city as a whole. Some amenities that were discussed were the importance of seating, green spaces and public art which can help people engage with the built environment. These also enable creative activity in the space as expressed by Lefebvre‟s (1998) concept of oeuvre (see Chapter 2) where all the amenities are creative processes made by people to design a communal space to use the creative processes around them. Secondly, people-oriented spaces were discussed in more detail. The leads to sociality of space as inclusive spaces are important in making the place more diverse with activity and vibrancy. These results indicate that the amenities and the functions of both the Botanic Gardens and the Octagon are „good‟ public spaces. A key contribution to public space, evident in both literature and data collected is public art. The next chapter will look at how public art contributes to „good‟ public spaces. Although public art was discussed as an amenity in this chapter, the next chapter will discuss it as a main characteristic of a „good‟ public space. The ways in which people‟s perception and engagement with public art contributes to their overall outlook of the public space will be explored in more detail.

Chapter 5 Art in public spaces

5.1 Overview

This chapter aims to answer the second research question posed in Chapter 1: How does public art contribute to „good‟ public spaces? This question will be answered in three sections. Firstly, section 5.2 explores the understanding that art in public spaces is a mode of interaction (different from art in private spaces such as museums) which empowers the community as it gives people a reason to visit the public space. Secondly, section 5.3 explores engagement with public art by looking at how different types of art encourages the public to be involved in the art and how this varies over space. By engagement this section indicates the ways people connect with the artworks which could happen in many ways such as physically or intellectually. Inclusive spaces (as stated in Chapter 4) are important in contributing to engaging spaces. The section specifically considers the three public spaces this study focussed on and their respective artworks (the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon; the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens; and Street art around Bond and Vogel streets). The importance of having a variety of artworks to create a vibrant mix in the public realm that contributes to sociality as discussed in Chapter 2 and Chapter 4 will be evaluated further, specifically focussing on the perceptions and emotions of people in relation to public art and how „affect‟ is created when people engage and socialize with public art. Thirdly, section 5.4 explores the role of the general public in public art by taking into account whether the public should be involved in decisions around public art or if it should rather be left to the experts and authorities. All these sections will demonstrate why public art is important for public space and how public art contributes to making „good‟ public spaces.

5.2 Role of art in public spaces

Public art plays many roles in public spaces. Primarily art encourages people to think about it and interact with the public space the art is located in (Hawkins, 2013; Lossau & Stevens, 2014). Many interview respondents shared the idea that public art was part of everyday life. For example, an art history student suggested:

I think what‟s nice about art in public spaces particularly is that you don‟t have to enter a gallery or an art institution, it becomes a part of everyday life. You interact with it in a different way than if you saw a painting in a gallery (Interview with art history student, 2015).

This was reinforced by an interview with a City Councillor as he suggested that people are drawn to interact with public art because it is part of the public sphere:

I don‟t know if the role of art in public spaces is any different to the role of art in general but it functions differently in that it is harder for people to avoid interacting with it and avoid having those conversations or answering the questions it might be asking. It doesn‟t ask you to go anywhere or do anything, it‟s just there (Interview with City Councillor 2, 2015).

Here, the Councillor indicates that most art is thought provoking but having public art in a public space creates openness in the built environment where people are naturally drawn towards it without seeking permission to do so. Hawkins (2013) suggests that public art can be meaningful to the public and forms a focus for people to come into the public space and enjoy the space it is located in for different purposes. Lossau and Stevens (2014, p. 3) support this claim as they say public art provides “cultural, social, aesthetic and investment benefit.” These elements of public art in public spaces are critical in attracting people to interact with both the art and the space in which it is located. However, it is important that the art is interesting to the public as they enter the space. An interview with another City Councillor suggested that art creates this interest in space in a variety of ways:

I think it (public art) has a range of roles, part of it is about creating that interest in a space. Part of it is about representing perhaps a history or a human element in that space. Part of it is about challenging the views or the thinking of the people who might be viewing or experiencing that space.

Some might call it [a] disruptive role, something that interrupts or adds different layers (Interview with City Councillor 1, 2015).

Amin (2008) suggests that public art can add a visual component that creates many different symbols to the passers by. Art in public spaces can reflect events, people, important memorials, commemoration and many other elements which give meaning to the public space. Public art also gives people a reason to visit the public space as it is a component of the built environment and the public space it is located in:

Public art gives public space flavour. Original public art is unique and so it will give a public space personality. It will speak about the history of that place or potentially speak about the people who live in that space if the artist is from that space. But it will give a public space a unique point of difference, it will give the public a reason to come and vInterview with Dunedin arts professional, 2015).

Public art is also thought to play a role in beautifying or transforming the public space (Amin, 2008; Mitchell, 1995; Neil, 2009). This is related to public art as an amenity (discussed in Chapter 4), but it serves a greater role because people interact with the art. As Zebracki et al (2010, p. 786) state “public art can be read in different ways and its uses to beautify the city or celebrate its reimagineering do not necessarily enjoy universal consensus.” This indicates that there are a variety of roles public art has in public spaces and often they are widely debated. The next section tries to answer the question under what conditions art creates opportunities for people to engage within the space.

5.3 Engagement with public art

As noted, there are many ways people can engage with public art and the type of public art shapes the nature of that engagement. As an interview with a City Councillor suggests “it encourages people to stop and think. It tells a history or speaks to a theme or idea that might be integral to a space” (Interview with City Councillor 1, 2015). Having a symbolic element where people can think about the art and what it represents suggests that public art is engaging, creating aspects of sociality in the public space where the public‟s perceptions and thoughts about the artworks create different emotional responses. In turn, this contributes to the thrown-togetherness and affective dimensions of public spaces (Dixon & Straughan, 2013; Massey, 2005; Pile, 2010). Public art can create specific bodily affective responses which are closely tied to the physical environment around them (Anderson, 2013; Cresswell, 2013). This engaging element indicates that public art acts as a positive element enhancing sociality and for creating „good‟ public spaces. Cant and Morris (2006) suggest that art has a creative element to it which draws people to engage with it even if it is just about thinking what the significance of the art is to its landscape. Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre also suggests that art is a creative element where interaction with different kinds of people and different creative elements is important in producing vibrancy in the environment. In an interview, a City Councillor emphasized the importance of having different types of artworks:

It would be boring if we only had one kind of architecture and one kind of vehicle or one kind of anything. Everybody is going to respond differently and react differently to each work. People have preferences. Something flat like a mural has a very different effect than a statue will and sculpture again particularly if it‟s something you can physically engage with, that‟s very different because it has a purpose beyond just to be looked at. I think variety in general should be encouraged (Interview with City Councillor 2, 2015).

Variety of artworks is required for people to engage with diversity and different forms of thinking. Having a mix creates vibrancy in the public space where people can choose particular artworks to interact with. Julia Morrison in an interview suggests that in Christchurch, art is being used to bring people back into the city after the earthquakes in 2010-11 which caused widespread damage, particularly in the city centre. This has a slightly different purpose of revitalizing a city but bringing people into the city to engage with the artworks creates a positive effect:

What‟s happening in Christchurch now is the rise of urban [art] activism, I think it‟s to do with activating a city because we desperately need people to come back into the city. There‟s no reason for people to come in, there‟s nothing there, just gravel and destruction. Art is being used to activate and to bring people into the city and to offer one reason to come in (Interview with Julia Morrison, 2015).

This suggests public art can be used to change the atmosphere of the city and bring people into an area. Public art as a revitalization strategy has been widely discussed in literature (Bailey et al, 2007; McCarthy, 2006; Pratt, 2009). McCarthy (2006) calls this „culture-led‟ revitalization which encourages the local population to engage with the artwork creating local identity. Public art creates a place image where people can attach meanings to the objects and the art gains significance in forming both individual and collective identity, leading to social cohesion by bringing the community together. Pratt (2009) also suggests that revitalisation can form a sense of social cohesion, just as Julia Morrison indicates for Christchurch above. In an interview a Dunedin art‟s professional suggests that art has been used in Wellington in a similar sense but has developed a particular culture:

There‟s a very mature public art culture in Wellington and there‟s a portfolio of a lot of collection of a lot of work. Wellington is becoming a place where you can see high quality public art. As long as public art has been commissioned sympathetically to be located within a site and adds to that site rather than detract from it, it needs to be in keeping with its surroundings and have a conceptual framework which makes sense in the surroundings (Interview with Dunedin art‟s professional, 2015).

The above quote suggests that public art has an influence on its surroundings and that engagement with art is important in creating an impression not only of the city but also in individual people‟s experiences and daily lifestyles. The interviewee further highlights how perceptions and acceptance of art changes over time:

People are often against public art when it‟s been talked about being installed but once they‟ve got used to it and accustomed to a piece of public art in a site, when you want to move it, or the public artwork is threatened in some way, often the public will be vehemently against any change. They like the artwork. Public art has the ability to really change the site that it‟s in (Interview with Dunedin art‟s professional, 2015).

This suggests that the public space the art is located in has a meaning for the public and people usually get used to interacting with art in the specified location. In an interview with a lecturer at the Dunedin School of Art gave specific examples of artworks that can have an immense impact on the built environment, including how people perceive them and draw meanings from such symbolic artworks:

Another favourite sculpture of mine is Natalie Jeremijenko, these are temporary works that she does but one she did which was called „No Park‟

and...you get fire hydrants and you‟re not allowed to park in places like that, so what actually she does is she has an environmental health clinic which has a red cross on the side and you just plant plants there and if you need the fire hydrants you just knock the plants over and they can re-grow and you put the fire hydrant in but in the meantime you got grass and oxygen being produced by these plants.

Another marvellous public artwork is [by] Andrea Polli, her „Cloud Car‟ which is a parked car giving all the steam and what she tells you is how much particulates an ordinary car running it‟s motor is going to generate all the time.

So, these kinds of public artworks are in the public arena and they are provocative, you know they tell you something, they are temporary. But they have a meaning and they talk to the present. They are not about beauty and they are not about good behaviour, so there are different kinds of public art (Interview with lecturer at Dunedin School of Art, 2015).

Here, it is evident that having variety in public art is important although the artworks mentioned in the above quote is remarkably different from the specific artworks of this study, they nonetheless carry important connotations with them affecting how people interact with their spaces and with art in general. Zebracki (2013) has also looked at how people engage with different types of artworks. He conducted a study on Sculpture Terrace in Rotterdam considering the way the public engaged with the terrace sculpture and the public space it is located in and found that it was intellectually stimulating for the public (Zebracki, 2013). In another study Zebracki (2012) conducted qualitative studies to see people‟s engagements with Paul McCarthy‟s public artwork called Santa Claus in Rotterdam which was controversial. Pollack and Sharp (2011) also see the public‟s reaction to specific artworks in Raploch, Scotland where they suggest that the public‟s participation is important when engaging with public art. These literatures support the opinions stated by the interview respondents in that the literatures indicate that the public‟s participation in the public spaces is an important asset to the city and people‟s engagement in the space is vital in determining how the space is used. It is therefore important to look at how specific artworks are used to facilitate and enable people to engage with public spaces. The three artworks in Dunedin‟s public spaces which this study focused on will be specifically explored in the next few segments of this section.

5.3.1 Engagement with the Robert Burns statue

Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of the history and purpose of the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon. On a regular daily basis the Robert Burns statue is used to symbolize history and to understand the significance of the poet and his contribution to literature. Dunedin is often known as a „literature city‟ and Robert Burns is often used as a motif to denote the literary side of the city. As an interview with a Dunedin arts professional suggested “public art in the 19th and 20th centuries was often about bronze statues. Those things tell stories, they tell stories about important people.” In this manner, the Octagon tells the story of the poet and his significance to Dunedin City:

As our sense of place from Edinburgh, you know, I mean Dunedin is a city like Edinburgh. You know, we are like the baby Edinburgh, the Scotts came all the way across the world and settled here and made the city look like Edinburgh. I‟ve been to Edinburgh, we‟ve got the same layout, we‟ve got George Street, we‟ve got Princess Street which is the same thing. Our ancestors put Robbie in the central part of our city, like our heart and our connection to Scotland. I think now we can tell a different story because we‟ve got „city of literature‟ so we‟ve got Robbie as a famous writer and poet (Interview with community art‟s advisor, 2015).

People engage with the statue by remembering the historical significance it holds as was noted in the questionnaire survey demonstrated in Table 5.1. Survey respondents noted that the statue suggests the city‟s Scottish heritage, literature and poetry and that it provides a physical „presence‟ in the space that connects past and present. Most bronze statues of famous people, although people cannot physically engage with them, are mentally stimulating and people also interact with them by taking photos and creating memories as suggested by this interview participant “there are so many people who stand beside Robbie and get their photo taken when they come to Dunedin because they‟ve got a sense of place” (Interview with community arts advisor, 2015). People engage with bronze statues even though they are static.

Table 5.1: Reasons for engaging with Robert Burns in the Octagon

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Figure 5.1: Graph depicting historic symbolism

Robert Burns was engaged with intellectually among the survey respondents as shown in Table 5.1 which also suggests what people think of the statue. Some of the responses indicate an affective dimension such as those in the category of „presence.‟ This is because the respondents considered the physical appearance of Robert Burns and drew conclusions about his personality (Pile, 2010). This is an affective response to the statue because it signifies thought in people beyond factual matters which lead to affective and emotional experiences (Dixon & Straughan, 2013; Pile, 2010; Thein, 2005). Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre is also present in the responses indicated in Table 5.1 because the creative elements involved in the way the statue was built had an influence on people‟s perceptions of the statue. The „affect‟ is in a way a response to the „oeuvre‟ of the space (Thein, 2005; Lefebvre, 1996). This is reinforced with Figure 5.1 where most of the survey respondents agreed that the Robert Burns statue provided a sense of history.

The Octagon is also used for events and festivals on a regular basis. The mid-winter carnival which was held in June 2015 was one such event which was used to celebrate the mid-winter season. The traffic was closed off and the Octagon was a pedestrian zone with lots of stalls and shows for which people gathered. This is evident from the following online newspaper review which said:

A cold clear night, a big crowd, the Octagon full of stalls and hot food and a carnival of colour and creativity. Dunedin‟s midwinter festival didn‟t fail to impress. An estimated 15,000 people braved a crisp 3degC to witness tonight‟s festival and celebrate the winter solstice - the year‟s shortest day (Borley, 2015).

With thousands of people gathering in the Octagon many people were also seen to be interacting with the Robert Burns statue as people climbed upon the statue and sat on it to view the shows.

Another such event which specifically involved the Robert Burns statue was “Who made my clothes?” during Fashion ID in February 2015, where the Robert Burns statue was used to raise awareness of consumerism and mass produced clothes used for fashion and the statue was draped in a Korowai (See Figure 5.2). An interview with community arts advisor explains this further:

There was an artist, Senorita Awesumo, who works with recycled materials, that‟s her kind of mana and she made this Korowai which is a cloak. It‟s a special cloak that you wear for ceremonies - so a ceremonial cloak, but she made it out of recycled t-shirts and she put it up over fashion ID week but it was up for fashion revolution day and it‟s kind of just asking people where their clothes come from. “Do you know where your clothes come from?” Part of fashion revolution day is about the capitalist slave labour stuff that goes on with consumer mass produced clothes, but that was lovely that Robbie was there who is a central figure in the Octagon.

Fashion ID is more about celebrating the fashion and it was really nice because it was a subtle work, lots of people probably didn‟t even notice but those who did were impressed and thought that was cool. So, you have a different experience with Robbie that day (Interview with community arts advisor, 2015).

Such engagements with the Robert Burns statue provokes thought and gives the public a reason to actively use the space for creative engagements. This event was more than decorating the statue. It raised awareness about people‟s personal clothing styles and whether they are conscious of how their money is being spent as part of consumerism. This draws deeper meaning to individual lifestyles and the public space is being used to instigate thought.

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Figure 5.2: Robert Burns statue in a Korowai Source: David Loughrey, Otago Daily Times

As a newspaper article by Awesumo (2015) suggested “it will trigger conversation about fashion industry, sustainability and an expert panel will discuss contemporary ethical and sustainable fashion initiatives to put people, purpose, and planet ahead of profit.” This was an activist event to create positive change, and in so doing used public art to draw attention to the message. This event was also mentioned by a survey respondent (See Table 5.1) where they engaged with the presence of the statue. Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre is very prominent here as the creative engagement with the Robert Burns statue can be used to convey messages to people. Amin‟s (2008) situated multiplicity is also relevant as the event brings communal presence to a lifestyle in Dunedin as it brings the city together by raising awareness on the issue.

The mid-winter carnival is also an example of situated multiplicity where the space is used for a number of reasons bringing people together in a specific space with many elements contributing to the vibrancy of the space. Interaction with art is also an element that takes place with many other activities prominent during the event. The emotional responses people feel when looking at the statue when events are held on a regular basis, drawing, for example on the historical presence or understanding of Dunedin‟s Scottish influence, could be thought of an affective response. People might feel proud to be in a city associated with literature and Scotland because Robert Burns was a famous historical figure who contributed to literature and poetry (Anderson, 2013; Pile, 2011). The Korowai on the Robert Burns statue was also signified a sense of pride and prominence to Dunedin city. However, static statues like Robert Burns provides a different form of engagement to physically interactive sculptures such as the Worm sculpture which will be explored next in this section.

5.3.2 Engagement with the Worm sculpture

The Worm sculpture in Dunedin‟s Botanic Gardens is a contemporary sculpture made of steel that has become noted for how children interact with it (See Figure 5.3). For example, in an interview Julia Morrison (the artist of the sculpture) said she intended the Worm sculpture to be interactive and to be used in many different ways. She says “I wanted it to be an object that was interesting to look at and also to function as park furniture, like a conversation seat, and bring children together. The area seemed to be a family kind of space and a tourist space as well.” In the interview, Julia Morrison also explained that she thinks that the artworks brings people together and forms a community in the public space:

I don‟t know whether the worm succeeds in what I‟m trying to do or not but it does bring people together. Perhaps not on a ghastly day but on a sunny day, the kids are playing on it and mums are sitting around chatting and tourists are making comments and photographing it (Interview with Julia Morrison, 2015).

The sculpture serves more than one function as adults use it as furniture, people sit around the sculpture and observe the interaction between children and adults, and contemplate its deeper meaning as a symbol of a worm which is also engaging. This is evident in the interview with lecturer at Dunedin School of Art: “I think it‟s nice that children can play on the worm. I think it‟s also funny, it‟s a little bit ironic, it is a worm and we all need worms in the earth and we all need to nurture the earth, it‟s a garden thing. Worms make gardens grow” (Interview with lecturer at Dunedin School of Art, 2015).

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Figure 5.3: Children interacting with the Worm sculpture. Source: Author

Interview participants also commented on the sculpture‟s success. For example, an interview with a Dunedin art professional explains:

Yes it was made to be interactive. Absolutely, it was made so that children could play on it...

It is in a location where children play, feed the ducks and they run around there so it was designed to look great but also to be climbed on to be played with. People sit on it too, they use it. Successful public space is a place where people can colonize and successful public sculpture can have that element to it, you can use it as a seat and you can interact with it (Interview with Dunedin arts professional, 2015).

Although the sculpture involved different forms of interaction, children‟s physical interaction with the sculpture was one of the most popular reasons given by respondents as to why they enjoy it (See Table 5.2 and Figure 5.3). As some of the responses in the table indicate, the interactive nature of the sculpture makes it more than a typical piece public art that cannot be touched or physically engaged with.

There is a sense of place with the Worm sculpture as people think it represents Dunedin City because of its interactive and artistic nature. However, the artist Julia Morrison is not from Dunedin and that sparked some controversy. As a Dunedin arts professional stated in an interview, it should not be something that should be considered important when the artwork is successfully used by the public:

Julia Morrison [is] a well respected artist. She‟s not from Dunedin, that‟s another thing, I don‟t necessarily think the artists need to be from a particular place, I think that‟s an unfortunate attitude that an artist needs to be from a particular location (Interview with Dunedin arts professional, 2015).

Many respondents shared that the Worm sculpture was one of the most successful sculptures in Dunedin because of its shape and aesthetic quality which promotes physical engagement:

I think that‟s a successful outcome because that‟s an interesting object and employs a really interesting manufacturing technique. I think aesthetically it‟s really beautiful, it‟s relevant, obviously it has a worm reference to the site which is the gardens. In years to come visitors to Duendin who are art literate are going to look at that and know who made it. (Interview with Dunedin arts professional, 2015).

Another reason Worm was thought to create a successful public space was because it had a deeper meaning about what the Worm sculpture symbolised and the cyclic nature of the life of a worm conveyed through its original name Oroborous (See Chapter 1):

I really enjoy seeing it as it is. I think it‟s a kind of thing that‟s a bit of a risk Oroborous [the official name of the Worm sculpture] is a kind of a cyclic notion of things moving and repeating itself. I like that and frankly, I think it‟s so much more beautiful than some of the other public sculptures in the gardens (Interview with lecturer at Dunedin School of Art, 2015).

For all the above reasons, the Worm sculpture is thought to be a positive entity contributing significantly to its public space. The engagement people have with the sculpture (Table 5.2) makes it a successful and meaningful one for people in Dunedin city which can sometimes lead to an affective response and sociality in the public space.

Table 5.2: Reasons for engaging with the Worm sculpture

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When people interact with the worm they are physically affected by their surroundings (Pile, 2010; Zebracki, 2013). The coming together of different people also creates a „sociality‟ of space as people‟s perceptions and thoughts create a sense of inclusion in the space [see Chapter 4] (Amin, 2008; Anderson, 2013; Dixon & Straughan, 2013; Pile, 2011). This can create „affect‟ as there is bodily transformation taking place when people observe children playing with the Worm sculpture (Pile, 2010). Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre can be applied to the Worm sculpture when children invent games on the sculpture or when new ideas are expressed when people chat in the space. Children often walk around the sculpture and create new ways of climbing and interacting with it which is also an act of oeuvre (Lefebvre, 1996). There is a sense of pleasure or a feeling of awe when people see children playing on the Worm or even when other adults interact with it (Amin, 2008; Pile, 2010; Pile, 2011). Here, the attractiveness of the sculpture which is physical engagement creates a bodily stimulus which is present after the emotional response to the sculpture. This affect is influenced and constituted through the coming together of people and material things in a particular place at a particular time in the same place (Anderson, 2013; Dixon & Straughan, 2013; Pile, 2010). Therefore the nature of engagement with the worm reflects Amin‟s (2008) situated multiplicity where a variety of activities are taking place in the space and the sculpture supports this purpose of the garden. It adds to a community space as people can physically interact with the Worm sculpture. This suggests that the Worm sculpture contributes to making the Botanic Gardens a „good‟ public space.

The Botanic Gardens as a public space offers a variety of activities for the public to engage in which brings about positive vibes in the space. However, similar to static statues but very different from this physical engagement, the next section will look at how people engage with street art in Dunedin.

5.3.3 Engagement with street art

There has been much positive feedback on the street art displayed in Dunedin, particularly in Bond and Vogel streets. People do not have to be present in the space for long to engage with the artwork as they can be in their car and drive past, still having the thought of the art and thinking about its significance. Although it is not a public space quite like the Octagon or the Botanic Gardens, people engage with it by going on street art trails which are long walks around the Warehouse Precinct to view the street art using the street art map (See Figure 1.3 in Chapter 1). A Street Art volunteer stated in an interview:

So, somewhere like Vogel Street or Bond Street where we‟ve put in a few works down there. If you go down there, any time of the day now you‟ll see people walking around with the street art map doing the tour. You can talk to building owners down there, a few years ago there would be no one on the streets down here (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

This shows that people are taking active interest in the street art scene in Dunedin. Although many people walk around Bond and Vogel streets to view the street art physically, there is also an online social media presence in relation to Dunedin‟s street art. Although, this is a different form of engagement, the Dunedin Street Art Facebook page is where people express their thoughts and views on the artworks around Bond and Vogel streets. An art history student in an interview suggested “social media is probably going to be the biggest option for people to engage in street art” (Interview with art history student, 2015). As evident, social media acts as a place where people can openly talk about street art and engage with other people in the community. However, this also gives people the motivation to go to the spaces and explore the street art in person. When people were asked what they thought about the street art in the questionnaire survey, there were many positive responses such as:

- “Adds interest. Hear of lots of people going out of their way to do the walking tour” (Survey# 53);

- “Increases awareness of art in general” (Survey# 55);

- “It gives you something to look at. It represents the city - gives it an identity” (Survey# 57);

- “It brings art to the city walls on the street because art is thought of as upper class but this art is accessible to everyone” (Survey# 58);

- “Vibrancy, character, less boring, gives it life” (Survey# 60).

These responses show that people notice the street art around Bond and Vogel streets and contemplate their purpose in the city and the space in general. One interview participant suggested “it‟s been mostly positive and there‟s been lots of really positive feedback” (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015). This positive feedback from the public show that the public have taken an interest in the street art scene. Sociality is created from the street art when people internalize the paintings they see on the walls. Most respondents agreed that it adds vibrancy, culture and identity to the space, characteristics that would not be present without the street art. This perception of vibrancy and identity in the public space can create „affect‟ in the people who think about the street art and have conversations about them with other people. There is an affective stimulus present in the street art, not only physically in the space but also when these images are posted online people internalise their affective responses to the street art (Anderson, 2006; Thein, 2005; Thrift, 2004).

A few scholars have explored public engagement with street art, particularly in England, in relation to regeneration projects (Bailey et al, 2007; McCarthy, 2006; Pratt, 2009). Bailey et al (2007) explored how street art benefited the existing culture and identity of the region. Their research looked at specific aspects of residents‟ experiences and attitudes to public art, particularly murals (Bailey et al, 2007; Pratt, 2009). Street art was seen to be a part of the culture-led regeneration and played an important role in social cohesion and forming communities who felt passionate about the artworks being displayed (Bailey et al, 2007). In relation to Pixel Pancho (See Figure 5.4) a street art volunteer observed that some of the paintings are popular among all age-groups creating an inclusive atmosphere for people to explore the art:

On Sunday there were people showing a group around and when we were in Vogel and doing a tour. We saw some people come out with their family out of Vogel street kitchen and they had young kids. When we got up to the Pixel Pancho wall on Princess Street and an old couple got out of their car and they would have easily been in their 80s and they pulled out their map and they were going to do the tour as well. So, it appeals to such a range of people (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

When the survey participants were asked what particular street art resonated with them, most referred to either “Love is in the air” (See Figure 1.4 in Chapter 1) or Pixel Pancho (See Figure 5.4 below). A few also referred to an eagle painted by Del-East (See Figure 5.5 below):

- “Bond Street. Wow! It's outside the Hospice shop and is amazing and vibrant” (Survey# 53) referring to “Love is in the air.”

- “Pixel Pancho, Chipmunks” (Survey# 54).

- “The horse with the guy,it makes me think”(Survey# 56) referring to Pixel Pacho.

- “Love is in the air-I like the cuteness it adds when people see it”(Survey# 57).

- “The boy and girl with a lollipop behind mojo café” (Survey# 59) referring to “Love is in the air.”

- “Eagle. Simple yet effective, striking, thought provoking” (Survey# 68) referring to Del-East.

- “The Eagles one. I like the feathers and how it is painted” (Survey# 58) referring to Del-East.

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Figure 5.4: Pixel Pancho, Chipmunks. Source: Author

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Figure 5.5: The Eagle by Del East. Source: Author

These responses show that people have preferences and favourite pieces of street art indicating that they have formed a connection with the street art in Dunedin. Some of the reasons such as vibrancy and attractiveness of the artwork depicts oeuvre where the creative process of the artist is being internalised and assessed by the general population (Lefebvre, 1996). The internalisation and emotive response people associate with street art can be affective as they are drawing in deeper meaning on how they feel about the artwork (Anderson, 2006; Thrift, 2004). This indicates that street art in Dunedin has been used for creating an image in the city and drawing people into the Warehouse Precinct.

Gentrification was also an issue that was raised in this literature about how street art is used to draw people into an area that is (arguably) being gentrified by attracting new businesses into the area and dislocating old residents (Bailey et al, 2007; Mathews, 2010; McCarthy, 2006; Pratt, 2009). According to Mathews (2010 p. 660), “gentrification is defined as a process of inner-city transition, where low property investment spurs a process of reinvestment and an accompanying shift in social demographics and built form.” This is when a low income area is transformed into a high income area with revitalisation of buildings and new businesses taking shape in the area (Harris, 2011). This is a similar situation to what is happening in the Warehouse Precinct, particularly in Bond and Vogel streets where old buildings are being revitalised to attract more people into the area. This was found to be a controversial issue in this research as there was one survey respondent who articulated that he was against street art because of the gentrification issues around Bond and Vogel streets. He stated: “DCC promoted the area as [an] Art's precinct - wine shop's cafes etc. Expensive buildings, no artistic income. Could afford NZ artists then they import "ART" (Decoration)” (Survey# 61).

According to this respondent, the area is being transformed into an expensive place with new businesses and high income residential units coming into place. He was also against international artists coming to paint the street art which he termed as “decoration” and not real art as it was part of the process of gentrification. An interview with a street art volunteer suggested that the artworks attract businesses into the area:

From my perspective, it‟s really important because it gets more people to go into businesses down there. It gets people appreciating that environment and kind of pushing for more. Now it‟s becoming a hip part of town (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

However, the Street Art volunteer mentioned that although there is some negativity about the issue, gentrification was not the main reason for the street art and it is rather about creating an image for the area and enhancing public art in Dunedin. He thought it was more about revitalisation than gentrification:

I think it‟s the restoration of the buildings. I think the street art has definitely helped because it gives people a reason to visit. So, it‟s a way to explore and people in that area when we were consulting with them said they wanted something different that encouraged people to come to the area (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

Here it is evident that the street art is being used to draw people into the area and create an atmosphere of art and culture in Dunedin. When asked specifically about the controversy in relation to gentrification in the interview, the Street Art volunteer explained:

There was some commentary, I think in the Polytech, one of their magazines a guy wrote a really scathing piece on the Street Art festival from last year and it was quite hurtful to us as a group. It was quite hurtful to me personally, some of the things he said about me but I think what upset us the most was some of the things he said about a couple of the artists and it kind of just felt like sour grapes on his part, but it was really hurtful to those artists as well because for a lot of artists putting your work in a really public place is very brave and it‟s quite scary. When you have people saying quite nasty things which were criticizing it and claiming it was about something when it really wasn‟t and I think that was really tough (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

The article that the Street Art volunteer mentions in the above interview was about how the area was gentrifying and events such as street art festivals were feeding the gentrification process (Philip, 2014). However, most of the survey respondents did not know much about the issue of gentrification and perceived the street art to be positive to the city. This indicates that people have perceived street art both positively and negatively in Dunedin‟s Warehouse Precinct. Some literature on gentrification suggests that street artists who have contributed to the renovation have created an image for the city through their artworks which need to be taken into better consideration while discussing gentrification (Harris, 2011; Mathews, 2010). This suggests that it creates both a positive and a negative experience, positive because of its revitalisation of desolated buildings which would otherwise not be in use, whereas the displacement of lower income residents has been thought of as having negative effects (Bailey et al, 2007; Mathews, 2010; McCarthy, 2006; Pratt, 2009). While there hasn‟t been much displacement in Dunedin‟s Warehouse Precinct in comparison to some of the international case studies in the literature because it was an industrial area, it still represents a transformation, which always has uneven effects (Harris, 2011; Mathews, 2010). The old buildings in Bond and Vogel streets were mostly 19th century industrial buildings which are being revitalised into businesses. Therefore, there are more positive outcomes in relation to street art in Dunedin.

5.3.4 Combining engagement with public art in Dunedin

The above sections have shown that all three types of public art this study is considering, static bronze statues, contemporary sculpture, and street art engage people in their public spaces in different ways. These engagements have also contributed to creating a sociality within the public spaces with a sense of „situated multiplicity‟, „thrown togetherness‟ and „affect‟ (Amin, 2008; Cresswell, 2013; Massey, 2005; Pile, 2010). Street art and static sculptures might create a different kind of affect compared with physically interactive sculptures like the Worm. Having a mixture of such different artworks in the city creates vibrancy in the space leading to „civic spaces‟ where people use the public spaces for community needs and gatherings (Amin, 2008). However, this also indicates that art is subjectively engaged with and people have different views and opinions about how they interact with different kinds of art. However, this mix of art in Dunedin also adds cultural value to the city as the questionnaire survey indicated. There is a significant amount of engagement by the Dunedin public in these public spaces to show that all the three artworks have created a „good‟ public space by adding value in different, interesting ways. If public art can contribute to good public spaces, the question that the next section looks at is who makes the decision around what public art is good.

5.4 Democracy: public participation in public art

Whether the public should be involved in the decision making processes about the public art has been highly debated. Interview respondents generally agreed that the decision making process should be left to the skilled professionals of the field rather than the general public who might not have the required knowledge about public art to be a part of the decisions:

We have specialists for all sorts of different areas but when it comes down to public art everybody thinks they have a right to an opinion about it. I think sometimes it is better to leave it to people that can give it due consideration. There are people in our community that I think are better suited to make judgments than others but at the end of the day with public art it is the public that will decide whether they want to own it or reject it (Interview with Julia Morrison, 2015).

The subjective nature of art and public creates difficulty:

I think it‟s really difficult because it is so subjective that you just have to have a really robust process for how you‟ll still make a decision at the end of the day. Because people have so many different thoughts, the last thing you want is to tell the artist here‟s the wall and then have it designed by committee, you need to give the artist as much scope as possible (Interview with Street Art volunteer, 2015).

However, it is worth noting that all the interview participants were, in some sense, experts in relation to public art or public space. Members of public may well have different views. Scholars who have focussed on the public‟s perception of artwork argue that if the public is involved in the decision making process there might be less controversy about whether public art is taken positively by the public or not (Finkelpearl, 2000; Lossau & Stevens, 2014; Parkinson, 2012; Zebracki, 2012). The public do voice their opinions on public art and in some instances this has led to the removal of public art where the public‟s opinion and dislike of a particular artwork outweighed the artist‟s perception (Lossau & Stevens, 2014; Zebracki, 2012; Finkelpearl, 2000). This was the case with Bronx Bronzes by John Ahearn in 1991 where the long awaited sculptures in the Bronx were perceived as a threat to the neighbourhood (See Figure 5.6). In contrast, the artist thought he was depicting an accurate picture of the Bronx but recognised the issues his work had raised:

After assessing the situation, Ahearn came to the conclusion that the work needed to be removed immediately. Ahearn predicted that if they were not removed, the works would be the centre of a very damaging controversy in which he would be cast as a racist. (Finkelpearl, 2000, p. 84)

People thought the images the artist had created of the Bronx stereotyped people of the area in racially offensive ways, particularly to the African American community (Finkelpearl, 2000). As depicted in Figure 5.6 below, the public space had three realistic life size sculptures of people who were known to the artist. The sculpture represented a young man wearing a hood with his dog, a boy with rollerblades and finally a man with a basketball having a foot on the radio. Although Ahearn thought these figures based on real people he‟d met represented the local community, the public “simply felt that the specific people he chose to represent were not appropriate as public monuments” (Finkelpearl, 2000, p. 84). This indicates the importance of public‟s opinion when considering how public art is relevant to its public space.

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Figure 5.6: Bronx Bronzes by John Ahearn. Source: ImageStack

http://imagestack.co/150036742-john-ahearn-bronx-south.html

In contrast, and like others interviewed for this research, a City Councillor notes that it is still dangerous to leave the decisions of public art to the public:

There is obviously a sense of ownership that people have over these kinds of projects that you wouldn‟t get or don‟t get generally. Somehow when the art is outside everyone is an expert and has an opinion. While everyone should have an opinion I don‟t know if public opinion is the best curatorial approach.

I think the curatorial elements are very important and I don‟t think they are generally speaking understood by the general population making the decisions. It is an elitist thing to say, I guess. In the same way that not everyone is a mechanic and not everyone is an engineer, you wouldn‟t pretend to be those things either and it‟s a skilled profession (Interview with City Councillor 2, 2015).

This suggests that even though public art is generally designed for public use, the skills involved in making the public art and how to make it should be left to the experts. However, scholars on public art suggest that the public should be involved in the decision making process (Finkelpearl, 2000; Lossau & Stevens, 2014; Parkinson, 2012; Zebracki, 2012). There are few examples where public‟s opinion of public art has outweighed that of the authorities (Finkelpearl, 2000; Lossau & Stevens, 2014; Parkinson, 2012; Zebracki, 2012). Pollack and Sharp (2011) argue that for art to be democratic the public needs to take part by expressing their opinions on public art. Others argue that the voice of the public is important when installing public art because it is being built for the public (Hawkins, 2013; Lossau & Stevens, 2014; Sarkissian & Wenman, 2010; Sharp et al, 2005; Zebracki, 2012). There are also arguments in public participation literature that seeks to bridge expert and lay approaches to uses through various tools and types of public involvement (Sarkissian & Wenman, 2010). However, this issue of public participation is beyond the scope of this research and can be considered for further research.

5.5 Summary

This chapter has illustrated the important role public art plays in public spaces, and the variety of different opinions and values that came into how people perceive and engage with public art (Cresswell, 2013; Hawkins, 2013; Lossau & Stevens, 2014; Zebracki, 2012). This engagement of people in the public space contributes to making the space vibrant as it forms a community where people enjoy a diverse set of activities in the given public space (Amin, 2008). This creates sociality within the public space when the public interact with the public art, as concepts like situated multiplicity, thrown-togetherness and affect come to fruition (see Chapter 2). This was evident in all the three public artworks but in different ways. In the Octagon, the Robert Burns statue depicts Dunedin‟s Scottish heritage and literary side of the city. The Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens, engage a variety of people in different ways: children and adults climb and sit on the sculpture even as it symbolises the cyclic nature of a worm‟s life. When people observe other people playing on Worm sculpture there is a physical stimulus present which highlights the affective character of interactions in the public space (Pile, 2010). This can also be said when people view the street art on Bond and Vogel streets as it creates a sense of wonderment and joy that some people can relate to creating deeper meanings and symbolisms of the art (Hawkins, 2013).

Lefebvre‟s (1996) oeuvre is also evident in the examples illustrated as the artistic and creative characteristic of public art illustrates the connection between creative thought and the built environment. Having a mixture of different types of public art in the city makes Dunedin a vibrant and engaging space to live in where the built environment (in relation to public art) has positive effects on the people in the city (Lossau & Stevens, 2014). Both the interview responses and the questionnaire surveys showed that the people of Dunedin perceive public art as being good and contributing positively to its public space particularly the three public artworks this research has considered. This shows that public art has contributed in creating „good‟ public spaces in Dunedin city. However, the last section of democracy indicates that public art can be controversial because the decisions made by the authorities might be challenged by the public, whereas scholars suggests public participation in public space needs to be considered (Finkelpearl, 2000; Hawkins, 2013; Sharp et al, 2005). Although public art can be challenged by the public, the three artworks this study concentrated on showed that public art is positive to its landscape and contributes to „good‟ public spaces.

Chapter 6 Aims, limitations and future prospects

6.1 Aim of research

In this dissertation, the aim of the study was to understand the types of engagement people have with different kinds of art located in public spaces. Three main public spaces were chosen, each with their own distinctive type of public art, namely, the Robert Burns statue in the Octagon, the Worm sculpture in the Botanic Gardens and street art around Bond and Vogel streets. To achieve this aim, two primary research questions were asked: the first research question was „what are the characteristics of „good‟ public spaces?‟ The second research question was „how does public art contribute to „good‟ public spaces?‟ The second research question had two sub questions to focus the inquiry. They were to understand the sociality of space in the Octagon, the Botanic Gardens and Bond/Vogel streets, and to understand people‟s engagement with art in each of the three public spaces mentioned.

These research questions were addressed by, first reviewing literature on public space and public art. Chapter 2 drew out several key concepts to this effect. These were concepts relating to public spaces and „sociality‟ such as oeuvre, thrown-togetherness, situated multiplicity, and affect (Amin, 2008; Lefebvre, 1996; Thrift, 2010). People‟s relationship to their built environment was important in understanding these concepts. To inquire into public art and how Dunedin‟s population perceive and interact with art in public spaces, two qualitative methods were used in Chapter 3. These methods were semi-structured interviews with stakeholders and questionnaire surveys for the three public spaces (See Appendix A and Appendix B). Chapters 4 and 5 presented and discussed the results. Chapter 4 specifically addressed research question one, arguing that various amenities and the structure of the public space is important in creating people-oriented spaces, using the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens as examples of „good‟ public spaces. Chapter 5 specifically addressed research question two, arguing that different types of art in the public realm create different kinds of interaction and engagement with the art. The type of art and public space determined how people engaged with them. For example, the Robert Burns statue had a historical symbolism whereas the Worm sculpture was more physically engaged with. The street art also symbolised deeper meaning, sometimes creating a sense of awe or surprise. Concepts of sociality (discussed in Chapter 2) were applied to the different forms of engagement with public art in Chapter 5.

All these chapters aimed to address the main purpose of the research which was to understand the effects of different kinds of art in public spaces and how art creates a positive built environment. Although there were no serious issues while conducting the research, there were some limitations which will be discussed in the next section.

6.2 Limitations

There were number of challenges and limitation faced during this research. Public spaces are usually widely used when the weather is favourable to the public which is mostly during summer. However, due to the timing of the study, the research had to be undertaken during the winter season in June when public spaces were not used as often and selecting specific days when the weather was slightly favourable was challenging. The time allocated for this research was eight months which meant that only three specific artworks (one artwork for each category) were selected rather than having multiple artworks in each category. Having the time to choose more public artworks in order to understand the responses of the public on a larger scale would have strengthened this study and made it a more reliable. The time constraint also affected the region or location where the study could be conducted as there was only a month for data collection and conducting interviews. Expanding this study to other cities in New Zealand or internationally would have been very difficult, but further research in the area could be done to illustrate the effect of public art on public spaces.

6.3 Future prospects

There were also a number of different themes which were encountered in relation to the impact public art has in public spaces, which raise questions for further research. Potential research topics for future prospects could be:

- The role of public art in public space during festivals and events such as the Mid- Winter Carnival in the Octagon or the Vogel Street party in Vogel Street.  The influence public spaces have on public art when public spaces are converted into pedestrian zones (which was encountered during data collection in the Octagon, see Chapter 4).

- The effects of inclusive public spaces such as the positive influence of green spaces (See Chapter 4).

- The connection between street art and gentrification (See Chapter 5).

- The question of democracy and public participation in relation to public art. How can the public be more involved in public art decisions in public spaces? (See Chapter 5).

These issues were not discussed in detail in this study as they were not the main focus. However, they could prove valuable for future research.

6.4 Concluding statements

Despite these limitations, this study has shown that public art is an essential component of public spaces. It has shown that there are positive effects of public art in public spaces such as creating a communal bond and interaction between entities in the public realm. The study has shown the importance of qualitative analysis to gather perceptions and thoughts of the general public in relation to public art (Winchester & Rofe, 2010). It has also shown the various types of engagements by the general public with public art in relation to the space it‟s located in. Creating a positive built environment specifically public spaces where the general public can conduct a variety of activities is essential for the well-being of city dwellers and having a variety of public art in the public space expands creative thought as evident from oeuvre (Lefebvre, 1996). Public art adds focus to public space and gives it a deeper meaning as illustrated with „sociality‟ (Pile, 2010). Therefore, it is essential that public spaces remain an important part of the built environment where creative elements such as public art are encouraged for everyday engagements.

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APPENDIX A

Interview Questions

Introductory questions

- Can you tell me about your role at?  How involved in public art are you?

- You told me you were involved in decision making around public art, can you expand on that?

Characteristics of public space

- What characteristics do you think the public space should have?

- What makes a public space vibrant and engaging?

- How important is public space to urban spaces?

Art in public spaces

- What role does art have in public spaces?

- Can you give me some examples of successful public art in Dunedin?

- How do different types of art affect our public spaces?

Governance of public art

- What are the processes involved when initiating public art in Dunedin?

- What are the funding processes involved?

- To what extent do you think the public should be involved in making decisions around public art?

Role of public art in Dunedin

- What is the difference between interactive and static art? Do you think we need a mixture of both?

- How do you think street art plays a role for public art in Dunedin?

Concluding questions

- What are the public art projects anticipated for the future of Dunedin?

APPENDIX B

Questionnaire Surveys for the Octagon and the Botanic Gardens

The Effect of Public Art on Public Spaces Survey

Introduction

The aim of this study is to understand people‟s perceptions and thoughts on how public art contributes to public spaces.

This survey will engage people in the Botanic Gardens and the Octagon. The results from the survey will be analyzed for a qualitative study on the effect of public art in public spaces by an Honours Geography student, Thejas Jagannath, in the Geography department at the University of Otago.

The identity of the participants will be kept anonymous and the participant can decline to answer any questions, or withdraw their survey from the study prior to completion. Please read the participant information sheet if you need more information.

Section A: Some information about you

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Section B: Public Space

Q1. How often do you come here?

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Very often Not often at all

Q2. Why do you come here?

Q3. Who do you come with?

Q4. What do you like about this public space?

Q5. Do you feel welcome in this public space?

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Please provide a reason for your answer?

Q6. Does this public space provide a sense of being with other people?

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Q7. What are the benefits of having public spaces you can share with other people?

Section C: Public Space and Art

Q8. Do you like this sculpture/street art?

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Please say why

Q9. The next question inquires into whether you think this art adds something to the public space. Please rank the following statements:

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Can you think of other ways the sculpture adds or detracts to the space? Please state

Questionnaire Survey for Bond and Vogel streets

The Effect of Public Art on Public Spaces Survey

Introduction

The aim of this study is to understand people‟s perceptions and thoughts on how public art contributes to public spaces.

This survey will engage people in Bond and Vogel Streets. The results from the survey will be analyzed for a qualitative study on the influence of public art in public spaces by an Honours Geography student, Thejas Jagannath, in the Geography department at the University of Otago.

The identity of the participants will be kept anonymous and the participant can decline to answer any questions, or withdraw their survey from the study prior to completion. Please read the participant information sheet if you need more information.

Section A: Some information about you

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Where do you usually live (city/region):

Occupation:

The next question inquires into whether you think this art adds something to the public space. Please rank the following statements:

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Street Art in Dunedin

Q1. What do you think about the emerging street art in Dunedin?

Q2. Are you aware of any controversy around any of the recent Street Art? Can you describe this?

Q3. What is your favourite Street Art? Why?

Q4. What impact does this kind of Street Art have on the City?

Q5. Can you think of other ways the Street Art adds or detracts to the space? Please state:

APPENDIX C

THE EFECT OF PUBLIC ART ON PUBLIC SPACES INFORMATION SHEET FOR PARTICIPANTS

Thank you for showing an interest in this project. Please read this information sheet carefully before deciding whether or not to participate. If you decide to participate we thank you. If you decide not to take part there will be no disadvantage to you and we thank you for considering our request.

What is the Aim of the Project?

The aim of this project is to look at the way in which public art effect public space. The project will explore how different types of public art - interactive and static sculptures, and street art around Dunedin City - enhance public space through encouraging social interaction, recreation, emotional attachment or a sense of vibrancy.

The research will be carried out by a fourth year honours student in the Department of Geography at the University of Otago, Thejas Jagannath, during 2015 and will be supervised by senior lecturer, Dr Sophie Bond.

What Types of Participants are being sought?

The project will involve interviews and brief questionnaire surveys. For interviews, experienced stakeholders who contribute to public art in public spaces will be recruited. This includes people who work in the field and who are involved in the decision making process of how public art is initiated in the city of Dunedin. The most relevant people will be emailed and asked about whether they are willing to participate in an interview that will last for up to 30-60 minutes.

Three public spaces have been selected where public art is a feature. These are Dunedin the Botanic Garden, the Octagon and either Vogel Street or Bond Street where new street art is emerging. In each space, the researcher will observe the character of the space, noting how people engage with it. A brief 5-10 minute survey will be administered to people willing to participate who are using the space at particular times. This will be at 3:00 to 4:00 pm in the Botanic Garden, 11:00 to 12:00 am in the Octagon and 4:00 to 5:00 pm in Bond Street on weekdays from June. The days are not fixed as this depends on the weather forecast as it is more likely that people will go to public spaces when it is sunny in the winter.

What will Participants be asked to do?

Should you agree to take part in this project, you will be asked to be interviewed for an hour on the subject of public art in Dunedin‟s public spaces, or be asked to complete a brief questionnaire survey on your perceptions of the specific public space you are in and the art located there. Questions will contain specific artworks and how the process of public art is initiated and engaged with on a regular basis.

If you are involved in an interview, we would like your consent to audio record it. It will then be transcribed, and you are welcome to request a copy of the transcript to comment on.

If, in an interview or the line of questioning is making you uncomfortable at any stage you may ask either to move onto a different topic, or for the interview to stop. There will be no disadvantage to yourself in either case. You may withdraw the information you have provided us with at any stage.

Please be aware that you may decide not to take part in the project without any disadvantage to yourself.

What Data or Information will be collected and what use will be made of it?

The interviews will be transcribed, and the digital files (both audio and transcriptions) will be stored in a password protected folder that only the researcher and her supervisor will have access too.

Once the raw data is analysed, selected quotes may be used in academic publications, conference presentations, or to support further research proposals. Your identity will be protected as far as possible by using an anonymous identifier (eg a psuedonuym, or number). Occasionally, someone who is very close to the case study or to you will be able to identify you simply through your comments. We will take every care to ensure this does not happen, but please be aware that sometimes it is unavoidable.

You may request to view and comment on any publications that use quotes made by yourself. Personal information will only be kept for record keeping purposes, to provide you with follow-up information if requested. Otherwise, it will be destroyed as soon as practicable or at the completion of the research. Data obtained as a result of the research will be retained for at least 5 years in secure storage.

Can Participants change their mind and withdraw from the project?

You may withdraw from participation in the project at any time without any disadvantage to yourself.

What if Participants have any Questions?

If you have any questions about our project, either now or in the future, please feel free to contact:-

Dr B.

Department of Geography/TeIho Whenua Phone:

Email:

This study has been approved by the Department stated above. However, if you have any concerns about the ethical conduct of the research you may contact the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee through the Human Ethics Committee Administrator. Any issues you raise will be treated in confidence and investigated and you will be informed of the outcome.

The Effect of Public Art on Public Spaces

CONSENT FORM FOR PARTICIPANTS

I have read the Information Sheet concerning this project and understand what it is about. All my questions have been answered to my satisfaction. I understand that I am free to request further information at any stage.

I know that:-

1. My participation in the project is entirely voluntary;

2. I am free to withdraw from the project at any time prior to August 31st 2015 without any disadvantage;

3. Personal identifying information (eg digital recordings, contact details etc) will be destroyed at the conclusion of the project but any raw data on which the results of the project depend will be retained in secure storage for at least five years;

4. This project involves an open-questioning technique. The precise nature of the questions which will be asked have not been determined in advance, but will depend on the way in which the interview develops and that in the event that the line of questioning develops in such a way that I feel hesitant or uncomfortable I may decline to answer any particular question(s) and/or may withdraw from the interview and/or the project prior to 31st August 2015 without any disadvantage of any kind

7. The results of the project may be published and will be available in the University of Otago Library (Dunedin, New Zealand) but every attempt will be made to preserve my anonymity.

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Details

Pages
94
Year
2015
ISBN (Book)
9783668073173
File size
2.8 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v308784
Institution / College
University of Otago – Geography
Grade
Tags
street art public art public space Ouroubrous Dunedin

Author

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Title: The Effect of Public Art on Public Spaces. Poets, Worms and Street Art