Emma Geliot's picture

Juneau Projects, Locws 2013

Swansea-based Locws International has been bringing art to the City in a wide variety of settings and contexts since 2000. The latest projects were presented until 06 October. Gordon Dalton, Locws project manager, reflects on what they have done to date.

Over the past 13 years, the people of Swansea have seen all manner of things come and go in the name of public art: a giant pencil made from a tree; inflatable cacti on the beach; a plane ride over Swansea; a giant stiletto-shaped boat; and the Sail Bridge being part of an all singing, all dancing performance. The city has played host to cartoon versions of Bonnie Tyler; a video game featuring the Swansea Devil; singing dogs; and a sculpture of a child dressed as a bird.

The people of Swansea have witnessed Pete Fowler s nine-metre high portrait of Dylan Thomas, flanked by horned horses, cosmic owls, UFOs, swans and a couple of very pink octopuses. Further down Swansea High Street, all eyes are drawn towards two giant gold palm trees by artist Sinta Tantra, arching across the fa ade above Volcano Theatre.

With over 100 temporary and permanent commissions to date, the Swansea public has seen a wide and diverse range of artworks commissioned by Locws International under the Art Across The City banner. Moreover, in recent years, the public themselves have become integral to the success of the works by participating in the design, creation and successful delivery of artworks. Art Across the City does exactly what it says on the tin, with art being situated in highly visible locations across the city, where people live, work and socialise.

In 2013 the participation in artworks across Swansea has been more prevalent than ever. Jacob Dahlgren s oversized placards in the Amphitheatre are the culmination of a series of community workshops. Dahlgren led participants on an artistic procession through a sunny Swansea, creating a curious spectacle that involved the wider public. The work acts as an optimistic, artistic protest; and the Amphitheatre provides a peaceful place for contemplation. Laura Sorvala s Swansea: A Viewing, is her largest work to date, an 8ft x 8ft cube capturing the many different voices and stories of Swansea. Sorvala asked various groups, communities and individuals for their thoughts about the city, which she then used as inspiration for the drawings. A live drawing event in the city centre, with the participants and general public completing the work, brought it full circle.

Juneau Projects are artists Philip Duckworth and Ben Sadler. Their idiosyncratic take on nature, technology, music and art comes to Swansea in the shape of five plywood sculptures attached to a copse of trees in Singleton Park. The Juneaus, well known for their public events and competitions, held a family picnic in the park, which was the background for a strange hybrid of fancy dress, jousting and bird spotting. The people of Swansea, well-accustomed to the work of Locws, took all this in their stride and made the work, and its location, a site for future events. Matthew Houlding s sculpture has perhaps the least public participation, but has certainly captured the public s imagination with its mixture of modernist sculpture and futuristic monument.

If all that wasn t enough, there is more to come. 2014 will see Art Across The City on an even grander scale, with over 25 temporary and permanent works on display as part of the Locws International s Biennale for Wales.

Public Art is important, allowing us to see the city in many different ways and from various and diverse viewpoints. We have built up a trust with the public, one that hopefully allows us to take risks, and to make people curious about their city. Art Across The City harnesses that trust and public art s importance, making it impossible to ignore.

Art Across The City 2013 ran from 6th Sept 6th Oct



Image: The Two Billionth, One Hundred and Forty-Seven Millionth, Four Hundred and Eighty-Three Thousandth, Six Hundred and Forty-Seventh, Singleton Park, Swansea, 2013, Juneau Projects, Commissioned by Locws International for Art Across The City.