Public Art – the council’s drawbridge is welded shut…

In 2007 the borough council set up a steering committee to review options for an item of public art in Park Street.  The committee – on which residents were represented – held its first meeting on 19th March that year.  After considering a range of concepts, such as this water feature (which was rejected because of the likelihood of ‘mischief-makers’),

the eventual design was the one we now see – ‘The Right Way’, by Rick Kirby.  For this, the draft budget was £50,000

Here is the artwork still in the workshop.  (An aside.  Something relevant to these gender-neutral days is that the artist was asked to make the figures a little less ‘feminine’ before the work was completed.  Hence the current somewhat androgynous metal trio!)

Anyway, getting to the point at last.  In February 2018, the borough council advertised: “Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) wishes to commission a public artist to design, fabricate and install one or more contextually sensitive artworks to be integrated into the refurbishment of High Street, Princess Way and Knoll Walk in Camberley Town Centre. The total value of the commission is expected to be up to £80k depending on the design and how it integrates with the rest of the refurbishment.”  We’d argue that this project seems pretty similar in size to the 2007 initiative.  Yet, have residents been involved in any way?  As far as we can tell, they haven’t.  We MIGHT like the results, but the council will have no defence if we’re critical of the outcome.  Why risk having the public complain about something that’s foisted on them?  Why no consultation??

8 thoughts on “Public Art – the council’s drawbridge is welded shut…

      • Well, there IS ‘The Right Way’ in Park Street, of course. But whether it’s “similar” to what’s now being planned for the High St etc, heaven only knows. Really, that’s what I’m complaining about – why not keep the public informed and on-side? It would be good defensive tactics as well as involving the community.

  1. This will not bring people back into Camberely to shop, wake up SCC, Total waste of OUR money help the homeless and provide warm shelter and food for one, and secondly ask us, your rate payers what they want,£80000 its a disgrace.

  2. I don’t understand the Council’s priorities. They have spent goodness knows how much so far refurbishing The Square but it still looks unfinished as commented on to me by a visitor I recently took into town. I appreciate that Obelisk Way may be part of a wider scheme for the London Road block but at the moment it is very much part of The Square and as long as it remains as it is, the whole centre appears unfinished. Given SHBC’s record to date I suspect that I shan’t see a decent London Road development in my lifetime.
    My visitor also commented immediately on the inconsistent flooring patterns and the somewhat random mixture of facscia designs evident around the central square. Having said all of that he agreed with me that the design, which will always be subjective, and the provision of street art, is never likely to materially affect the footfall unless it is something that is truly spectacular which sadly, ‘The Right Way’ is not.
    I suppose figures pointing in opposite directions apparently signifying the right way is consistent with the useless signposting around the town often mentioned before.

    • You’re right, of course, design is subjective. I miss the old mall, but I’m surprised to find that I quite like much of the face-lift. I reckon that much of the problem is that the council doesn’t know how to communicate. In some situations it doesn’t do it at all, in others it does it in ways that few people can understand (or be bothered to understand), and the rest of the time it resorts to self-congratulatory superlatives. As a result, the default position of residents is to mis-trust what the council says and does. There are probably good reasons why it’s nearly twenty years since – to my knowledge – the council raised the possibility of redeveloping the London Road Block. But we never get an honest statement of the position. We just get a succession of missed targets without any explanation – or much acknowledgement that they’ve been missed.

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