Emma Geliot's picture

Mt Elsie - Artist's Impression  Image courtesy of Assemble Mt Elsie - Artist's Impression Image courtesy of Assemble

Swansea Council have just commissioned four new public art commissions for the Boulevard route along Oystermouth Road, in order to encourage exploration of Swansea City Centre, emphasise key locations, and help create memorable experiences of the City that people want to return to.

The proposals are focussed on the Wind Street crossing area, the corner of the LC Leisure Centre opposite Princess Way, Museum Park and the route between the Paxton Street tunnel and Meridian Quay. Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Regeneration, said: Quay Parade and Oystermouth Road are key gateways to our city and we want visitors, commuters and residents to receive a welcome that s both memorable and unique to us.Public art can play an important role in city centre regeneration. It helps enhance the character and uniqueness of a city, emphasises key locations, gives a sense of place, encourages exploration and often generates long-lasting and memorable experiences that will encourage people to return in future.

Swansea Council appointed not-for-profit arts organisation Addo to commission artists to undertake each project. As a result, American-born artist William Denniusk (who is based in Finland; multi-disciplinary architecture studio and think-tank Aberrant Architecture ; art, design and architecture practice Assemble and Pembrokeshire-based design duo Freshwest have been commissioned to work on the projects.

Aberrant Architecture - Swansea Fitted Civic Stage, artist's impression Aberrant Architecture - Swansea Fitted Civic Stage, artist's impression

Aberrant Architecture has undertaken a six-month part-time residency based at Mission Gallery, during which they worked with different local groups to inform a permanent external commission called Swansea Fitted Civic Stage. This artwork aims to activate and animate Museum Green, allowing users to adapt the structure for a variety of unique public activities such as a shop-front for showcasing local produce, a stage for a musical or theatrical performance, a platform to host a fashion or art show.The work takes inspiration from the 19th century whenSwansea was known asCopperopolis a world centre of copper smelting and production.The distinctive trunking in the hulls of Swansea s Copper barque ships, used to import precious copper ore from all over the globe, were specifically developed to carry a heavy cargo in a process known as 'Swansea-fitted'. A large proportion of this copper ore came from Valparaiso in Chile, so much so that Valparaiso became like a 'Suburb of Swansea' in the 19th Century.Today little visual evidence remains of this important maritime trading relationship. To fill this gap in Swansea's architectural history the fa ade of the Civic Stage features building fragments transplanted from Valparaiso's townscape.Around the same period, local copper barons would mint their own coins as a way of paying their workforce, as official currency was in short circulation. To honour this early form of local currency, which is now popular again with examples such as the Bristol Pound, the stage surfaces are clad with a fine network of individually designed coins. Each coin features different designs that were contributed by the local people and community groups who took part in the participatory workshops carried out as part of the design process.

Assemble have proposed an artwork called Mt. Elsie - a new mountain and climbing wall in the centre of Swansea to enhance the north elevation of the Leisure Centre Building opposite Princess Way.This extraordinary new artwork(see picture top) will act as a huge billboard promoting an active lifestyle and inviting people to come to Swansea City Centre and Swansea Bay to play on the beach, in the park, or to come and climb a mountain. The LC is the city's premier leisure destination and pioneers the importance of fitness as well as fun in Swansea and so offers the ideal home for Mt. Elsie. Mt. Elsie will be managed in association with the LC Leisure Centre, which has a great record of safely running a wide range of sporting and leisure activities.The wall will be open at scheduled times and accessed through the LC. When not in use, the wall will be closed up, a flat, and beautiful mountain facing the city. This project is also supported by local company Dynamic Rock.

Freshwest - Museum Park Screen Freshwest - Museum Park Screen

Freshwest have designed a decorative screen that can be opened up to allow service access to Museum Park, but which when closed, will close off the service yard of the LC. Their proposal for the Museum Park Screen has evolved from a series of design experiments and events related to Swansea's waterfront.Pembrokeshire-based design duo Freshwest explored how sand could be used to make moulds and translated marks made on the beach into the fabric of the gates.They then organised a community event on Swansea beach in June, inviting the public to make their mark in the sand. These marks were then captured in plaster of Paris and taken back to the Freshwest studio. The castings from the event, along with other cast objects collected from the seafront inform and contribute to the mirrored pattern of the gates. The gates will be sand cast in aluminium, using an ancient casting technique that would once have been prevalent in the metal-working industries of the Swansea area.

William Dennisuk - Tunnel Light and Sound Intervention William Dennisuk - Tunnel Light and Sound Intervention


William Dennisuk has designed two distinct but interrelated permanent art interventions to enhance the listed Paxton Street pedestrian tunnel and the route to the Meridian Quay tower. The first consists of a soundscape feature and low energy LED light feature in the tunnel and subtle lighting on the outer entrance walls. Both the light and sound will evoke thoughts and memories of the sea and the industrial history of Swansea and create a space that transports and reminds people of the larger historical and geographical context of the City. Paxton Street Tunnel is a listed site and so care has been taken to maintain a balance between preserving and highlighting the structure s existing features and historic identity, while introducing new elements that expand the tunnel s symbolic function as a transition zone between the city centre and the waterfront.

William Dennisuk - Marina Sculpture William Dennisuk - Marina Sculpture

Continuing along the pathway to the sea, the second artwork takes the form of a large-scale open-frame stainless steel sculpture standing approximately 4.5m high above the water level and 1.8m at its widest diameter and sited on the water in the northwest corner of the marina. Composed of multiple layers of concentric circles, the overall concept and form is reminiscent of waves emanating outwards from some kind of disturbance on the water s surface. The relative transparency of the sculpture will allow it tobreathe , meld into its surroundings and keep views open. Both interventions are intended to offer visitors and residents a new way to experience the environment and to make the journey between the city centre and the waterfront a place where history, nature and imagination coexist and flourish.

Subject to planning approval, the artworks will be installed by the end of March 2015. The Swansea Boulevard & Waterfront Connections Public Art Programme is being curated and managed by Addo on behalf of and in collaboration with the City & County of Swansea Council. Funding for the public art is coming from the Wales European Funding Office as part of the Waterfront City regeneration programme, the Arts Council for Wales and private developers.


Freshwest are featured in issue 5 of CCQ, out now.