Inclusion, Emotion and Voice: Permanent Public Art made by Community Members

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Qadri, Debbie Maree (2018) Inclusion, Emotion and Voice: Permanent Public Art made by Community Members. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Community participation is high on the agenda of all levels of government, but in ‘permanent public art’ commissioning, the community are rarely involved. This research explores the meaning of permanent public artworks which have been made by community members. The research is important because socially engaged art is increasingly being used in ephemeral public art practice and theorised in terms of democratic and civic engagement. Although many permanent public artworks are made by community members, this practice is rarely included in public art policy, literature and discourse. The project uses the methodology of Portraiture, as developed by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, to study two permanent public artworks made by community members and a self-portrait of the researcher’s own practice of working in the field. The research reveals a strong emotional context in the artworks, present in the reasons for initiating the artwork and in the process of forming a community and working together to make it. The permanently installed art object is the symbol of that process of coming together towards a common end as well as being the protagonist of the process. Permanent public artwork also draws attention to our rights to contribute to public space. The thesis is a reflection not only of the inclusive practices of permanent public art made by community members, but also of inclusive research processes and outcomes. To practice reciprocity and ethical community engagement, the thesis writing style is unconventional, weaving in traditional and contemporary writing approaches, drawing, displays and websites to enable greater ‘public’ access to the research outcomes.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords public art; public artworks; commissioned art; collaborative art; community art; Portraiture; public space; public pedagogy; cultural democracy; artist; Melbourne
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