Public Art Discourse: A Case Study of Gateshead, England

By Maeve Blackman.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper discusses how the purposes of public art are understood in official discourses. Discourses legitimise desired courses of action, such as whether public art is commissioned compared to other spending priorities, and the processes that surround its use as a type of intervention. The multiple meanings attached to this art genre constitute it as an argumentation field with alternative and possibly conflicting objectives. This makes it particularly interesting to approach public art sociologically as a constructed practice. The focus of the study is a local authority with an international reputation for public art: Gateshead in England, home to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North. The study sourced a range of municipal documents and undertook an analysis informed by a grounded theory approach to identify important themes and connections between them. Four coherent discourses are revealed, not easily discernible from the often fragmented references to public art across various schemes, projects and strategies described in the documents. These were ‘venue’, ‘inclusion’, ‘quality of life’, and ‘civic pride’. The paper shows how these discourses relate to wider sociological and policy concerns, especially regarding municipal improvement.

Keywords: Public Art, Municipality, Policy, Discourse

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.137-152. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.309MB).

Maeve Blackman

Postgraduate Research Student, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, Durham, UK

I am a doctoral research student at Durham University, England, conducting research on public art and community well-being. I have an honours degree in Sociology and Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a Masters degree in Sociology and Social Research Methods from Durham University. I have a strong personal interest in public art and the arts in general. I have watched the growth of public art in England with great interest, and thought about what it means sociologically as a movement for social change.


There are currently no reviews of this product.

Write a Review