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Figure Ground

What place does public art have in the larger discourse on contemporary art? Who initiates projects and why? What instances do you know of artist-initiated projects in the public realm?

These are some of the questions that us to form Figure Ground, an artist- led group currently consisting of artists Lucy Andrews, Katy Beinart, Jack Brown, Laura Krikke, Jon Adams and Jo Thomas. Our intention is to initiate networks and events for artists across the South of England and beyond. We invest time and commitment in physically meeting up with each other (and other people), making work together, and engaging in creative debate. Insistent threads in our activities include: permission to play, focus on process, space, and sharing practice.

Figure Ground events are open, participatory and creative, as well as artist-centered. Artists are invited with the aim of exploring issues around practice, sparking networks and ideas, and contributing to critical debate about the role of public art.

In April 2011 we arranged mini-residencies on LV21, a lightship, on the Kent coast, for 20 artists. They came together to create new work in response to this exciting environment through short intense collaborations. Work included sound, film, performance and interactions. During the event artists took playful risks with their practice to find ways of responding to the ship and community associated with it.

One of the successes of this event is evidenced through the collaborations that continued between the artists afterwards, and that work created onboard has been shown in different contexts, events and situations.

Figure Ground is visiting a range of organizations including: Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Artangel Interaction, Banner Repeater on Platform 1 Hackney Downs Railway Station, to explore how an artist led organization in the public realm might evolve. As part of our evolution we spent an afternoon in conversation walking through Bristol with Iain Biggs, Victoria Walters and Suze Adams of PLaCE.

Our work has been supported through a NAN bursary in 2008, SEEDA, Arts Council England - South East, and Bracknell Forest Council. The project is funded by Arts Council England.


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Figure Ground
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