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Sculpting a sporting landscape

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

“It is not a specifically designed parkour area and we would much prefer people interacted with it as art", said a spokesperson for North Somerset council after a freerunning group made use of Bristol's Seafarer sculpture.

In this particular case the artist had described this action on a sculpture dedicated to those who had lost their lives at sea as 'disrespectful', but this piece was part of an art 'trail' and was designed for people to move through its form, so if art is in the 'eye of the beholder' when it comes to art in public space is such movement inappropriate?

Need public sculpture be passive? Might this be a way for arts, culture and sports funding to come together?

In 2015, the City of Philadelphia commissioned a pair of skateable sculptures from Jonathan Monk but these were located in a skatepark, so this could be viewed perhaps more as bringing art to skating, rather than inviting activity in public space through interactive art.

When I first saw the 'Fitness Tree' at Foro Italico in Rome, I thought it designed as an individual piece of art, connected to calesthenetic equipment.

It turned out to be an off the shelf piece from MyEquilibria designed by Vito De Bari to "tear down boundaries between art, high-end wellness equipment and community."

I think its a great demonstration of the potential for us to create new, interesting, imaginative landscapes by providing public infrastructure that has an asthetic value, as well as a practical value be that as a social gathering place, an environment that supports play and movement or all of the above.

Are you aware of Arts Council, or any other funding that has supported permanent public sculpture that invites climbing, clambering, skating, parkour for all ages?

For more on the mixture of more temporary art installations, sport and urbanism check out this blog

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