we have felt the absence of art in our lives as social distancing, self-isolation and working from home have become part of the "norm". For the first time, people have been turned away for months from going to museums, theatres, parks, cultural spaces and other public facilities, both indoor and outdoor, as part of the containment measures for the pandemic.
Public art connects people to places emotionally, intellectually and socially. Although the lockdown measures have limited our access to these public spaces and our practices in making use of them, our sense of place should not be easily put off by such restrictions.
In this extraordinary time, we have gathered 11 people from the art community in a research network to explore the roles of public art and its significance in the meaning-making process for a collective sense of community and shared cultural memories. The key question that we are asking ourselves is:
While public sculptures and monuments are permanent in the traditional sense, some of the artistic interventions and installations are ephemeral. Yet the effect and memory that these temporary site‐specific artworks created can be long‐lasting. In many ways, they promote a sense of identity and convey some kind of important meaning to the community, which has been poorly recorded and rarely analyzed. However, this remains a significantly under‐researched area with little evidence to identify which artworks attracted most attention and which ones tended to be ignored.
There is no doubt that public art has been evolving considerably in the recent decades and have become increasingly integrated and relevant to the communities that we serve. This network has been actively exploring this aspect of thinking by contributing case studies and stories to this website. We hope that this website will help inspire us to imagine a new future of public art and its role in creating a sense of place and community which we all need right now.