Q4)Now that Gateshead has a contemporary art gallery in the shape
of BALTIC, what is the future for the Public Art programme?
The Public Art programme is still an important and necessary part of the work of Gateshead Council. Increasing development has led to a new wave of public art commissions, such as collaborations with Capital Shopping Centres over The MetroCentre re-development and the future GQ2 site, on the Gateshead Quays. Public Art is playing an important role in the regeneration of Gateshead in areas, for example, the Town Centre. During the last three years a Public Art Strategy for Gateshead Town centre has resulted in the commissioning of eight new permanent and temporary artworks, including the award winning Threshold sound sculpture by Lulu Quinn and Opening Line the 90m glass and steel screen at Gateshead Interchange by Danny Lane. During the run up to the BALTIC the Visual Arts Officer became re-designated as the Public Art Curator as a positive step to enshrine public art as a core function of the council.
Gateshead Council had a resident artist through The Year of the Artist 2000-2001 funded through the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB). The Council has continued with this scheme and still have a lead artist to advise and consult on the planning and design strategies for public open spaces. This has focussed on Gateshead Town Centre and Saltwell Park Regeneration Schemes. The Lead Artist has a base within Gateshead Council offices and plays an active role in pre-discussion briefs for Public Art. He also works on his own projects resulting in temporary installations and permanent artworks. Public art is being written into new strategies, which will become incorporated into a development plan for the next ten years.
Q5)How will you remember the Angel of the North project and what are your current views?
The Angel continues to be the most significant project I have ever been involved with during my time at Gateshead Council. From being an idea back in 1990 to seeing it completed in 1998 demanded energy and commitment, which proved deeply rewarding. The Angel is a pivotal work of art and possesses an ongoing profile within the regeneration of Gateshead.
Seeing the image of the Angel in the media on a daily basis is hugely satisfying. The project has become a yardstick for other ambitious schemes of this nature; however visiting the Angel on a regular basis and talking to the public at the site is the best experience of all.
Public Art and The Angel of the North