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A commission to work with masterplanners on a regeneration development on the Isle of Sheppey, Thames Gateway. The Queenborough and Rushenden Regeneration has the unique opportunity, with the Art at the Centre initiative, to coordinate an arts strategy for the town and the community that is proactive, far reaching, and experimental. At the core of the Art at the Centre approach is the belief that if artists of all types are involved at an early stage of development they can be instrumental in bringing together different agendas, identifying areas of mutual interest, producing creative solutions and enhancing the quality of urban design.

Art at the Centre is a pioneering award scheme from Arts Council England, South East, that seeks to embed creativity within regeneration practice across the region.

The artists working within the Art at the Centre programme and Rummey Design Associates, the masterplanners for the Queenborough and Rushenden Regeneration have established a commitment to close collaboration to ensure that the objectives and mission are met. As the art strategy develops along with the masterplan, we aim to engender an ethic at Queenborough that will allow for creativity to become a part of its community life forever.

Full document cannot be viewed as it is yet to be published. Evaluation is being carried out by General Public Agency.

“The opportunity for an artist writing an art strategy in an evolving masterplan for the built environment is certainly an unprecedented one. Without a code of practice or an established approach that has involved artists in this type of exercise before and the necessary consultation and diagnosis needed it is indeed a unique challenge and it has many implications that need to be unpicked. After all, perhaps moreso in this circumstance as opposed to other commissions, any permanently sited or designated artworks would be many years away from manifestation. Even given the extensive consultation with the existing community, is it not presumptious to announce an artwork or project that is packaged well in advance of tangible regeneration ? And given the fact that artworks made in the public realm can take a long time to be realised due to endless consultations and planning procedures, once it is realised and publicised the artist has moved on: So therefore to find really innovative approaches in the public realm we have to look at what is current, in process and in essence has not yet been made.

An artist’s response to the qualities and conditions of a particular place is central to the development of a project, and it is the confident risk taking during the making and doing that informs the manifestation. As a result of this process context and content are often indistinguishable. Therefore it is exceedingly difficult to construct a an outcome, but more interesting to deconstruct and find a set of principles represented here through the sensory quality of ideas and case studies. This document is a presentation of a suggested desire to bring the ephemeral and documentary works that could take place from the very beginning, during and following the regeneration, into a series of sustainable outcomes. That they are permanent in the sense of being physical landmarks, but also in that they can be supported by an exhibition and residency programme that is open to change and makes the work of the artist continuously visible and engaged with it’s audience. The permanent could be taken to mean therefore a series of conceptual strategies enabling new works to be made and the adaptation and reinterpretation of previous works.”

Helen Marshall