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Shaftesbury art project faces criticism

By Blackmore Vale Magazine  |  Posted: February 09, 2013

Shaftesbury commons art

An artist impression of art at The Commons, Shaftesbury

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A PROJECT to install public art in the centre of Shaftesbury has prompted criticism at a drop-in session in the town.

The event was organised by Shaftesbury Civic Society which is leading the Common Places project devised by Dorset Design and Heritage Forum.

Civic Society committee member Jan Scott said the chosen artists - architect Adam Zombory-Moldovan and Simon Thomas Pirie - gave presentations to update people about the project.

She said a minority of people had spoken out against the proposal.

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She said: "As with any piece of art there was a mixed response.

"Some people don't like the ideas for the artwork, others didn't think there had been enough consultation.

"But when the artists talked about their ideas most people listened and were happier about it."

Mr Pirie said "Some people were very vocal.

"But this is not a fait accompli - it's not the final concept and there is a lot to consider with aspects such as highways."

He added that the artists aimed to work with local people to ensure materials and features would relate to Shaftesbury including its history and archeology.

Both artists say their aim is to create a naturally social space where people could spend time.

Mrs Scott said the idea for the project began in 2001 when artwork on the Commons was suggested as part of the long-planned town centre enhancement scheme.

Consultations started in 2010 and Shaftesbury Town Council made a grant of £5,000 to progress the scheme.

Jan Scott said further funding would not involve taxpayers' money. Project leaders would focus on getting grants from arts bodies.

The final cost could be around £50,000.

A competitive selection process drew nearly 40 artists, which were shortlisted by a company for final selection by the Civic Society and DDHF.

Jan Scott said the selection process had been professionally conducted and ongoing public consultation was continuing.

A model of the artists' suggested scheme had been created and could be seen in the window of the architect ZMMA's offices in Shaftesbury's High Street.

More public consultation meetings will be held.

Objectors cite concerns over cost, lack of public consultation, unsuitable design and safety.

Dee Adcock

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