Subplots to a City

7.-Jeppe-Hein1-e1296412519175In Certain Places in Preston commissioned Shezad Dawood’s film project Piercing Brightness, and the Harris Museum & Art Gallery hosted the first in a series of shows related to the artist’s project and wider practice. Working with Shezad on the publication alongside the exhibitions (see this post), I met the film’s commissioners, Charles Quick and Elaine Speight, who wrote a text for the book. They subsequently invited me to work with them on a publication that would capture ten years of In Certain Places’ activities.

In Certain Places is a programme of temporary public artworks and events that examines how artists can contribute to the development of a city. The scheme, which was initiated in 2003, is a partnership between the Harris Museum & Art Gallery Preston, and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). In Certain Places has worked with regional, national and international artists (the image shows Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms, which emerged in Preston’s city centre in June–July 2006) to develop temporary public artworks for the city, hosted artist residencies, and throughout its ten years of existence has organised public talks about art, place and the city.

My approach to working with Charles and Elaine has been a very slow one (I first visited Preston in summer 2012). On the one hand that’s because we’re all busy people, but on the other hand because the ongoing face-to-face and skype conversations, exchanges of documents and lists and emailed propositions allow for what I think is an important percolation process. Rather than ‘simply’ archiving and documenting things as they happened chronologically and representing projects as they manifested themselves via text and image, it’s become a process of (self-)reflection about both In Certain Places’ practice and modes of operation, and how public art commissioning and its processes in general have changed.

Subplots to a City includes texts by, among others, Paul O’Neill, Jonathan Vickery, Owen Hatherley, Lubaina Himid, Sophie Hope and Charles Quick & Elaine Speight. It will feature case studies of projects and interviews with and statements of people involved, including artists and project participants. The book is designed by Jasmine Raznahan of ARPA.

Planned publication date: November 2014

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