The Art of Making Things and Getting Things Done: Public Art and Regeneration (Notes from Wrexham)


Fastest milk float in the world.

Fastest milk float in the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Milk Float, in working condition, see...

English: Milk Float, in working condition, seen driving around the East End of London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Milk float at classic car show in Eng...

English: Milk float at classic car show in England. So presumably it is a classic milk float. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: A Dairy Crest ex-Unigate Wales & Edwa...

English: A Dairy Crest ex-Unigate Wales & Edwards Rangemaster Milk Float. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Dairy Crest Smith Electric Vehicles elizabet...

A Dairy Crest Smith Electric Vehicles elizabethan milk float. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Milk float Whitechapel, Liverpool - L...

English: Milk float Whitechapel, Liverpool – Liverpool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Art of Making Things and Getting Things Done

Public Art and Regeneration

 The images don’t relate to the notes here (Apart from the connection with Folk Float and Folkstronomy) I just couldn’t believe how many images came up as suggested images for the feature and I think I have a bit of a thing for Milk Floats.

I really enjoyed the ixia event in Wrexham. The day began with a Paul O’Neill placing the day in the context of the past 15 years or so where public art has become synonymous with regeneration. I particularly liked his description of “plop art”: art in public space, which has little reference or sympathy for local place and people.

Often this work is badly thought through, add-ons, temporary funded community project without any real depth. The approach to this work has often been arbitrary, reactive and short-termist.

The day promised to look at how and why more sustainable projects have been introduced. The art of renewal is often continual / open-ended and celebrates local distinctiveness. In this kind of public art amateur and professionals work side by side as co-productive citizens.

The projects we looked at considered the place based curatorial endeavour where time and space are considered. Artist-led projects which could perhaps have research-based outcomes… different models / different approaches

Kathrin Bohm

Kathrin is a member of Publicworks Group, a group of artists and architects who came together working within and towards public art. Kathrin studied at Goldsmiths.

Kathrin has been working internationally as an artist on public realm projects since 1993, and in collaborative settings since 1996. She is a founding member of public works and the artist initiative Her immediate involvement with public works stopped in 2012. She is currently working on the continuation of a number of longer-term projects such as the International Village Shop, Rhyzom/Eco-Nomadic-School and her ongoing work in Höfen and with

For updates on new projects see (to be fully launched in July 2012).

Her teaching and research work includes an AHRC Research Fellowship at the School of Art and Design, University of Wolverhampton and running Inter 10 at the Architectural Association School of Architecture together with Andreas Lang.

Her work with public works includes:


International Village Shop, Colchester Inn, Rhyzom, Kunst Station Triemli, Folkestonomy, Banco de repente, Folk Float, Mobile Porch, Park Products

Folk Float

Commissioned by Grizedale Arts and Creative Egremont

The Folk Float started as a mobile folk archive for the town of Egremont in 2007. Its intention is to display, collect, discuss and test in public versions for a local archive for Egremont.

The “Egremont Archive” was and still is an eclectic mix of objects, artefacts, publications, etc. that have been compiled through an informal network of individuals. The archive was never formalised as a permanent exhibition; it was conceived as a permanently growing and changing collection of things aimed at stimulating a public debate on topics important for Egremont

The mechanisms and nature of the Folk Float have been established by a group of residents from Egremont who started to “a local archive”. Following numerous conversations and visits to the archive (at that time stored in boxes in someone’s spare bedroom) we developed a brief for an object that could reflect and facilitate a number of ambitions attached to the archive initiative.

We rebuilt a former milk float (an electric vehicle for daily door-to-door deliveries) so that it would fit the informality of the archive and incorporate a number of functions that could easily respond to the different situations the Folk Float would enter on its tour around Egremont. Functions include a formal glass cabinet for precious items, a window for special features and temporary donations, simple tea and coffee making facilities, a workshop table, a screen for projections, covered areas for meeting and hanging out, storage, an index box for all archived items, etc. as well as a mobile phone blog so that new items can be entered remotely.

The ambition for the Folk Float in Egremont was to develop a lasting public archive that can spread across spaces and durations in its physical form. The archive could be a combination between a more formal but playful mobile unit and numerous boxes located in various houses with different opening times, together with public events in existing spaces and a permanent presence in the already existing mining museum.

During the late summer of 2007 the Folk Float was extensively used to present, promote and extend the archive, both in Egremont and nearby places. Its familiar (milk float) and at the same time strange appearance allowed for different interactions in different settings. It was used in a street promenade, on village fairs, football fields, etc. and managed to adapt itself to the different expectations and responses.

The website was an integral part of the on site engagement. Entries (images and text) were directly uploaded via a mobile phone and created an instant and extensive archive of all contributions. From dancing shoes to a giant marrow.

This project was community driven: a cultural centre based in the old mining museum in Egremont.  The community started to develop with what they had. They had a sense of ownership.  More organically and paced development can develop its meaning as it progresses.


FOLKESTONOMY is a public mapping project for the town of Folkestone, UK, commissioned by Andrea Schlieker as part of the Folkestone Triennial. A mobile mapping station was travelling, parking and collecting data across different public spaces in Folkestone throughout the summer 2008, in order to trace and visualise existing cultural spaces, interests and links

The FOLKESTONOMY float (a converted milk float) travelled to different public places in Folkestone throughout the summer, alongside the route of the twenty-two Triennial commissions, inviting passers-by and visitors to trace and map their own links, encounters and interests with the wider field of the Triennial and the town of Folkestone. The float also carries the visual and technical equipment to facilitate the mapping on site. The information collected in and by the public, directly feeds into the FOLKESTONOMY map Folkestone, indexing a variety of the town’s different informal and formal cultural spaces, interests and networks. The idea is to sketch and show an existing and extending cultural space that is important, but currently less visible than others.

Once parked up, the visual mapping tools were spread out from the float into the public realm.

Passers-by and visitors were invited to use the tools and map the cultural spaces and activities in Folkestone they are interested in.

The Folkestone Triennial is a key element in the cultural led regeneration that is currently taking place in Folkestone. In this context  (FOLKESTONOMY has set out to look at the wider cultural spaces and networks that are linked to the production and delivery of the Triennial, and it offers a public platform and facility to capture everyday cultural interests and activities, and to visualise them alongside the commissions for the Triennial.

The mapping language for FOLKESTONOMY is pictogramm based. Several hundred tags (mapping items) are stored on accustomed road signs. They refer to cultural spaces, activities and reasons. Everybody interested was invited to pick and combine the tags that describe their cultural involvement and interests in and with Folkestone. New tags could be added and the language and comments page grew over the summer.

Each road sign carries smaller TAG signs, which are used in the individual mappings. Participants can use the pictogram language of the tags to construct simple narratives that reference specific spaces and interests.

Each tag has a built in chip, which carries relevant information. When plugged into the larger octagonal TAG signs this information gets fed into the online database from which the maps are constructed.

Dorian Moore has been developing the hard- and software aspects of the FOLKESTONOMY project. For his mapping on site he selected all the relevant tags from the road signs, including rough information on where he comes from and his reasons for being there on the day.

All tags are then put into a TAG box, which gets connected to the collector box in the float. A photo is taken to be shown together with the individual maps.

Once the TAG box is connected to the Collector Box, the data is read and all tags are displayed on a screen inside the FOLKESTONOMY float. The page on the screen allows to add and customise tags, add comments and to leave contact details

Each individual mapping is added to the database and becomes part of a growing map, which shows individuals and their links and involvement with different cultural sites and programmes in Folkestone. Each item on the map is clickable and relational, and allows you to browse through the whole data pool.

If you click for instance on the FOLKESTONOMY item on Dorian’s map, you enter one of the commissions maps

The commission maps include information on the artist, where they are based, contributors to and manufacturers of the commission, references to other places and subjects, etc., and visualises the wider networks involved in the production of art commissions. All commissions have been produced for Folkestone and involve a vast network of contributors.

One of the aims of FOLKESTONOMY is to show and locate the wider social networks involved in the production of culture and cultural space. The FT commission maps are an attempt to show how the Triennial unfolds as a social and spatial reality. What and where are the spaces and cultural aspects that are being produced, occupied and transformed by the Triennial? Can knowledge and networks generated through the Triennial influence future cultural thinking and planning on an urban scale?

Wick Curiosity Shop Hackney Wick

Dear old Hackney Wick

The place of our abode

There is no other in the land, it beats the mile end road

It’s there that we were born; it’s there that we will stick

There is no other in the land like dear old hackney wick

Have a banana!

The Wick curiosity shop is a small-scale archive and cultural space dedicated to the specific locality of Hackney Wick and Fish Island. It documents, hosts and promotes. It is an eclectic collection of local produce, memorabilia, oral history, songs and stories from or about Hackney Wick. The Archive exists on-line and as a series of live events in which it temporarily assembles. The display and the format the shop is continuously changing. The list of curiosities is growing, slowly collecting an extensive list of contributions made in or inspired by Hackney Wick and the surrounding area.

The Wick Curiosity Shop presents a narrative understanding of the area, a space full of stories about the Wick told in a multitude of ways. It is an archive of local cultural activities and artefacts that help to document the process of change in the area with the close involvement of its local residents.

The Wick Curiosity Shop is as much an archive as it is an event structure and platform for further cultural activity. It allows existing histories to be collected and new memories to be formed, thus capturing the life of a community in transition through a series of close engagements. Archiving and registering what seems relevant from the viewpoint of the Wick and its residence and users.

The website brings all contributions and events together in one place. You can browse the shop either by looking for individual contributors, by searching all contributions or by events when the shop was open and on site. To find out more about the day-to-day running of the Wick Curiosity Shop you can visit our blog for more details. Contact us if you would like to contribute something to the shop or spotted something that needs further explanation. You can also join our mailing list to stay informed about future events.

The Wick Curiosity Shop was originally commissioned by [SPACE] for the Hackney Wick Festival in September 2008. It is a collaboration between public works and Hilary Powell from Optimistic Productions with the generous support of Pudding Mill River.

Archiving what is there as local culture, building up an archive of an area, connecting individuals and organisations. Find a way of relating to what is already there.

Rural Context

Art as Space / Spaces for Art?

The Rural Art Space Symposium was part of the two months programme Why We Left The Village And Came Back, which spread across various exhibition spaces in Shrewsbury and other public and private venues in Shropshire during November 2006 to January 2007.

Where does contemporary practice exist within rural settings? Where does it show and where is it discussed? Where and what is a rural art space?

The different displays and events during Why We Left The Village And Came Back visited existing and new spaces for contemporary art practice, to ask and explore issues of cultural production, participation and representation in regards to their spatial manifestations.

The Symposium, which took place in Shrewsbury on 17 January 2007 was organised by Kathrin Böhm (public works/ and was set up as a partnership venture between, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and the School of Art and Design, University of Wolverhampton.

This project led to a group of artists revisiting their own home places. We had not considered working there. Why?

Playing different roles can be fun. an archive of projects in rural locations.

It’s important to have space to talk about ideas. Peer exchange is REALLY IMPORTANT

Working with women in her home village to develop a new product for the village

The product is the instigator of a process to talk about place/ functionality/ innovation.

They created an annual village shop during the village fete in the community hall. Selling new products alongside more traditional fare of jams and cakes.

The International Village Shop

Its NOT playing shop

Products travel to temporary shops internationally

Reversal of roles

Honesty shop

Cosy aggressiveness

It makes a comment on the globalisation of village. A caravan-shaped flowerpot made in Ireland became a bestseller in Switzerland

The products are cultural production and specific to the locality in which they are made.

The International Village Shop is a growing network of organisations and artists who set up permanent and temporary trading places for goods that are rooted locally. The products range from horsemilksoap (Friesland/NL) to porcelain Frogbutterspoons (Upper Frankonia, Ger), Peter’s Pots (Cumbria, UK) and Titschy Kitschy Houses (Lawson Park, UK), single-village rice (Toge, Japan), handmade arrows (Fanas, CH), etc.

The organisations Grizedale Arts,, public works and Somewhere involved have worked with shop formats, trade and collaborative production for many years. Since 2007 the different approaches, strands and products cross each other regularly in the International Village Shop.

In October 2010 the International Village Shop website went online. The site brings the geographically dispersed temporary and permanent “counters” of this one shop together in one place, and gives insight to products that are developed for and contributed to this shop.

Nuno Sacramento

Scottish Sculpture Workshop


SSW provides residencies, training and exhibition opportunities for visual artists who wish to research ideas, experiment with new techniques or develop existing skills.

Excellent technical staff supports high quality making facilities, and a residency at SSW offers time, space and engagement with other visual artists in the stimulating rural environment of northeast Scotland.

Scottish Sculpture Workshop was established in 1979 by Fred Bushe OBE RSA, with the aim of providing high quality facilities for artists to make sculpture, supported by technical and artistic expertise.

Since its inception, Scottish Sculpture Workshop has forged links with international artists, and has hosted thousands of residencies for visual arts practitioners from all over the world.

From its base in rural north-east Scotland, an area characterised by it’s outstanding landscape, history and culture, Scottish Sculpture Workshop continues to provide a stimulating and creative environment in which to meet and work with artists from different disciplines, backgrounds and countries.

The blog above gives some great examples of current projects.

In an old bakery in Aberdeenshire SSW brings artists to work with local artists, they engage with the local community. The whole organisation is about making stuff. The organisation is looking for common ground between SSW/ place/ people/ and artists.

We don’t necessarily have to create something new

We need to show an interest in what people are already doing

Sculpture and its neighbours: dinner events invited local neighbours. Showing people what happens in there. Breaks down barriers over food. What interests people? How can we find common ground? SSW Pot Luck

Everyone brings food and the event, which takes place in the Communities Room, is popular

Common Ground

We do things that interest us, but have the potential to interest others. Programmes that promote making and fabrication, because people are interested in the decline in manufacturing skills

Loss of technical skills as art schools close workshops

Materiality and making in art and society an interesting conversation

Public money should be used to create more public ness

Make do and mend is the norm in the rural

Workshops, tools, processes people understand

The Lost Hand 2011

Heritage craftspeople working alongside artists

Works in progress were brought

Where is the future of skill?

Invitation sent out to artisans: cooper, painters and decorators, kilt maker, sign writer, ceramicist, stained glass artists, and woodcarvers. Some of their clients and networks came with them to see what skills they could share.

Hard disk skillscape

Online social network. Making in Aberdeenshire

One of the biggest problems for rural artists is working in isolation so this creates a network / communication device

Makers Meal

Buy the food cook it and eat it

Making everything to be able to eat a meal there will be leaders who will become followers in different situations. A collective brought together. People mobilising around a simple idea

Slow Prototype

Residencies contemporary visual artists working with local skilled people.

The director of Berlin Sculpture Park working with a kilt maker or a chef working with a contemporary artist from Dublin

The artist commissions an object from the artisan. The collaboration must influence both artists. A writer will also be attached responding to the collaboration.

Will skills be lost?

New skills emerge?

Are we ready as a society to lose the capacity to make / do?

How can we use skills differently?

How are contemporary artists perceived in the locale in which they are located?

What can they give back?

A good article on Residencies outside urban centres can be found here:

What is public ness?

Is public the same as community?

Public/ private

Common ground

Christoph Schäfer

Park Fiction

I liked hearing Christoph talk about his work but I found it hard to follow so here are some random notes, which may or may not make sense…

Ruhr Project


Cultural Capital of Europe 2010

Working class

The image city

Former industrial heartland now creative cultural city

Metropolis shopping

Essen becomes world class

Relax like in Amsterdam

Industrial sites

Coloured light flags and banners

Class struggles?

Revolution started in the Ruhr in December1918

The memory project. Workers who died in the Ruhr massacre the rightwing came to the fore

Memory situation


Construction of desires

Write your wish

Making each other more clever

Neighbourhood network

Park Fiction

Parks and their political background

Building an edible park from salad

Archive of Desires

2007  Documenta

Mick Wilson

Dean of the Graduate School in Dublin

A desire to “middleclass” working class people

Social infrastructure is essential

I found this on the internet which I thought was interesting :

“Vandalised trees

Fears have been growing about the damage to plaques at the base of the trees planted by the “amaptocare” art project in Ballymun. 271 trees have now been planted as part of the first planting season, which ran until May this year. The trees, featuring the words and thoughts of the people who bought them have been planted in public spaces throughout Ballymun. Each tree is an expression of the individual who donated it and paid a minimum of €50 in an effort to improve the area and contribute to the new Ballymun.

We must ensure that we, as a community mind these trees so that they grow to maturity and enhance our new environment.

If you see a vandalised plaque, please call the amaptocare office”


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