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Town council urge new start on Shaftesbury art project

By Blackmore Vale Magazine  |  Posted: February 23, 2013

The Shaftesbury Commons art project has come under fire

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TOWN councillors are looking to Shaftesbury Civic Society to give the option to start again on a public art project that has sparked objections.

The proposal to install art at The Commons as part of the town centre enhancement scheme resulted in angry exchanges at a presentation given by the chosen artists, Adam Zombory-Moldovan and Simon Thomas Pirie last month.

The Common Places project has been led by Shaftesbury Civic Society, which is inviting opinions in writing to help with a final design.

The council added the topic to the agenda of its planning and highways committee last week.

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It issued a statement this week stating: "Shaftesbury Town Council is confident that the Civic Society will reconsider its position and not under-estimate the importance of publicity and consultation in future.

"We would expect it to regain public support by making a full disclosure of the details of the process to date, by giving presentations to ensure that everyone understands the concepts involved, and by running a publicity and consultation process which includes the choice of modifying the current project or beginning again.

"We naturally expect the outcome of that consultation to be respected."

The project dates back to 2001 when an architectural feature on the Commons was noted as part of the enhancement scheme.

In January 2012 the town council granted £5,000 to help progress the scheme.

We would like to clarify a statement attributed to Councillor John Lewer in a report in last week's Blackmore Vale Magazine about the Common Places art project.

His comment should have stated: "It seems to me that the present situation is untenable unless enough evidence of both correct procedure and adequate public support can be demonstrated."

Dee Adcock

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  • Pierre Jordaan Architect  |  February 23 2013, 12:57PM

    I was interested to find a project exhibited at a local architect's offices for a public art installation on The Commons at the top end of the High street last year, and at the same time perplexed by the fact that there was so little participation or publication about this. I am pleased that this is now being addressed. The proposal has its roots in a document called 'Wide Open Space - Developing Creative Space'. Of course this is the antithesis of what Shaftesbury is all about. A hilltop town, which has limited and restricted public areas and congested narrow pavements. As the brief was so broad and general it is no wonder that the proposal does not suit the public space and really is out of keeping with the urban fabric of Shaftesbury. A successful and realistic brief would acknowledge creativity, an analysis of the town's urban fabric and would investigate the opportunities where the ideals can be realized. This requires a much broader and inclusive thinking to engage creative individuals on all levels. I would suggest a first round of public discussions which will highlight where the needs are and where the opportunities exist. A realistic brief will be the result of this. Only then can the Civic Society realistically call for design proposals. These should be exhibited to the public for comment before an independent selection panel makes a selection. In this way only can Shaftesbury be sure that it is the beneficiary of something which is for the people of Shaftesbury. The broader investigation will also identify opportunities for future public art and leave a creative legacy for the town, and more opportunities for creative people. Pierre Jordaan, Architect /Urban Designer

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