Grimsey, Tom (2006) St Radigunds St Radigunds Community Centre, Public Art Project, Dover, UK.
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Grimsey, a sculptor whose research is located within the field of community and public art, explores the relationships between communities, their social circumstances, site conditions and the integrity of the artist and artistic production. Public art is generally associated with forms of regeneration and sites of resistance. Distinct from works created for the gallery, public art demands engagement, testing the integrity of the artist. Through a two-stage review process, Grimsey was selected to direct the Arts Council-funded St Radigunds project in Dover. Working with the architect, the landscape designer and directly with the community (one of the most deprived communities nationally), he undertook extensive consultation with local schools, community groups and the local authority. Funding in excess of £60k was raised from: the Foundation for Sports and the Arts; Kent C.C.; the London Fancy Box Company; Sure Start; and Arts for All. Grimsey developed an overarching narrative for the 2.5 acre site to integrate three artworks. Adopting the metaphor of the sea, Grimsey used this to develop identifiable places for different constituencies of the community, linking these through a rippled and sculpted landscape created from the new topsoil that this formerly contaminated site required. Further elements tackled the stark boundary fence of the new nursery, developing ‘St Radigunds Forest’ a new tree-scape made in consultation with the local schools; and ‘Live Screen’, developed as an amphitheatre for screening and performance containing a giant television and inspired by Johan Huizinger’s ideas of ‘Homo Ludens’. A simple object forms the setting for invention in the spirit of a contemporary bandstand where performances are intermittent and the ‘Live Screen’ creates a proscenium for meeting and informal play. Extending the collaborative principle, Grimsey worked with ‘Black Fish’ Physical Theatre Company and video artists to produce an inaugural event with dance, drama, film and video.
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