PROJECTS 2001 - 2010

Right from the outset of  embarking upon her consultancy work in 1986 Isabel had been fully committed to devoting the necessary resources she could to the projects she took on. However, between 2001 and 2010, the turnover of projects increased. Art Office worked on a greater number of projects than at any other time in the previous twenty years.

There were more developed strategic plans for public art programmes, right along side fully realised public schemes. The trajectory of projects taken on by Art Office reflected the change in approach throughout the decade to the commissioning process.

Heavily dependent upon Arts Council lottery funding, the public sector arts enjoyed a brief flowering as grant funding flowed more freely during the early 2000s. However, once the Millennium Commission shut up shop in 2006, there was a shift from individual capital projects, toward smaller-scale development projects.

While the cultural capital of public art was still being made available by the prevailing political interests of this period, initiatives identifying the beneficiaries of publicly funded art revealed shortcomings. The social imperative of public art aimed toward certain social groups was difficult to quantify objectively. In an attempt to address this perceived under performance in its social application, funding was directed more deliberately toward art education.

There was a greater emphasis placed on national government funded set piece projects like the Olympic Park, which mopped up most of the available funding. Toward the end of the decade public art expenditure commitments dropped out rapidly as government funding came under greater pressure once the implications from the worldwide financial crash hit in 2008.

A prestigious project for the BBC charts the change in attitude toward public art at this time. Between September 2001 and December 2002 Art Office’s Isabel Vasseur and Rebecca Ward conducted an audit of the BBCs visual art holdings with the BBC’s Robert McPherson. Art Office oversaw the creation of a public art strategy for future commissions. This coincided with the development of the White City ‘BBC Media Village’ site, in west London. While the project was successful in all of its outcomes, changes in managing the property portfolio at the BBC saw future commissions move in a different direction.

Public art funding became much more dependent upon working with young people or hard to reach groups. The convention of an education programme as a significant portion of the commission and not just a supporting role, became the norm. As a result and in response to developments in artistic practice, commissioning public art in the public sector switched toward smaller scale and temporary projects.

In a project that proved to be exceptional, if a little protracted, in 2004 Islington Council’s Greenspace and Leisure department approved an upgrade of the park area at the centre of Islington Green. This wedge-shaped plot included the 1918 First World War memorial, which had never been an adequate structure commemorating the fallen, and  deteriorated to the degree that it had a few irreversible structural problems.

Art Office’s Isabel Vasseur and Kelly Carmichael were brought in to coordinate a commission for a replacement monument carved by John Maine RA that would be contemporary in approach and a more fitting commemoration to the men and women who had given their lives to conflict. The resulting memorial and reconfigured park has been a resounding success and an example of how, in the face of enormous opposition, the right scheme, while not necessarily the best value for money, is often the best outcome for the stakeholders concerned.

Glow 07 originated from the two local city authorities of Newcastle and Gateshead identifying the need for a winter festival of light:

‘The Newcastle Gateshead Initiative was to illuminate the urban heart of the region in an imaginative way, turning it into a winter attraction for tourists and local people’.

Art Office commissioned a series light works by an international selection of artists for the Glow 07 Festival Newcastle Gateshead. Among the artists were Lothar Götz and Susan Collins. Other contributors included Tanya Meditzky, Tod Hanson, Zöe Walker, Neil Bromwich, Nayan Kulkarni, Lulu Quinn, Miles Thurlow, Cath Campbell, Edwin Li and Jordan McKenzie.

2007-2009

Cambridge Regional College

Commission of a lighting scheme and wall installation for the redevelopment of Cambridge Regional College with Jason Bruges Studio.

2007-2008

Glow07

Production of a Visual Arts Light Festival as part of the Winter Festival of 2007 in Newcastle and Gateshead. Commissioned by NGI. Included newly comissioned works by Susan Collins, Lothar Götz, Tod Hanson, Edwin Li, Jordan MacKenzie (in collaboration with amino), Tanya Meditsky and Walker and Bromwich.

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2006

Production of Ark

Road Vines by John Newling, the first ever mobile hydroponic vineyard housing a laboratory, workshop and seminar space, traveling to sites in UK, Europe and worldwide. In collaboration with Louise Francis and Laura Knight. Ark was a hydroponic Pinot Noir vineyard which produced grapes subsequently made into wine used in Easter Sunday Eucharist service at Rochester Cathedral. Winner of Rowse Kent Public Art Award for 2006.

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2006

Aldeburgh Music, Suffolk

Advisors for the Visual Arts Strategy at Aldeburgh Music in Suffolk www.aldeburgh.co.uk. Artists in Residence: Christian Marclay, Mariele Neudecker, juneau projects and Giles Round

2006

Gable End wall,  Tower Bridge Road, London

Commission of a Vertical Garden for the Fair Community Housing Services for the Gable end wall on Tower Bridge Road, SE1 in collaboration with the London Borough of Southwark. Artists: Mark Dion and landscape architects Gross Max.

2004-2008

Gable End wall,  Tower Bridge Road, London

Commission of a Vertical Garden for the Fair Community Housing Services for the Gable end wall on Tower Bridge Road, SE1 in collaboration with the London Borough of Southwark. Artists: Mark Dion and landscape architects Gross Max.

2004-2007

Big Art, Channel Four

Chief Arts Advisor for Public Realm Series for Channel Four, funded by Arts Council England, The Art Fund and Channel Four. Working with Louise Wardle, of Carbon, television production company, to commission 6 pieces of public art for a number of different location throughout the UK.

2004-2006

War Memorial, Islington Green, London

Creation of a new War Memorial by John Maine RA for Islington Green, commissioned by the London Borough of Islington in a restored and redesigned landscape by J&L Gibbons LLP

Supporting programme of works to compliment the new Islington Green war memorial by John Maine RA dealing with the themes of war, conflict and memory, specifically with the residents of Islington. Commissioned artists: Adam Dant, Duncan McAfee, photographer Claire Waffel, poet Deborah Levy and photojournalist Brent Darby. Commissioned by the London Borough of Islington and funded by the Arts Council London. A publication Art and Remembrance cataloguing the projects is available here.

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2004-2006

Medway Renaissance, Medway Council

Commission of John Newling installation in disused church as part of Medway Renaissance, Medway Council in association with Diocese of Rochester. AO and Medway Council appointed Louise Francis and Laura Knight to oversee the project, Chatham Vines.  See above The Production of Ark 2006.

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2004-2007

Moorfields Eye Hospital, London

An integrated art programme and commissioning scheme for Moorfields Eye Hospital’s new International Paediatric Wing with Penoyre and Prasad Architects. Artists: Alison Turnball, Yuko Shiraishi, Lucy Casson and Samantha Bryan.

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2003

Millenium Square, Sheffield

Advisors to commission a large-scale Public Art Work for Millenium Square in Sheffield. Commissioned artist: Colin Rose

2003

Arts Council of England

A Review of Contemporary Art Society Special Collections Scheme

2002

Chatham redevelopment project

Development of a new public art strategy for the Chatham redevelopment project for Medway Council Kent

2002

Reviewer for Arts Council of England Lottery funded capital projects:

A13 Public Art Programme; Contemporary Art Society Special Collections Scheme

2002

Editing and selectors of artists for Unicef International Contemporary Art Diary for 2004

2001

BBC Arts Programme

The production of a seven-year art and architecture programme with Allies and Morrison for the BBC White City site development which embraces a variety of commissioning strategies including permanent and ephemeral works, artist in residence schemes, education and outreach projects and the contribution of artists to the built environment.

Artists: Bill Fontana, Yuko Shiraishi, Tim Head, Dig Ding Dong, Thomas Cox-Bisham, Nikolaj Larsen, Andrew Motion and John Morgan, John Morgan and Vivian French, Simon Patterson, Elizabeth Wright, Bruce Kirk of Light perceptions and landscape designer Christopher Bradley-Hole.

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2001

James Turrell light project

Advocacy and coordination of the River Thames James Turrell light project. A scheme covering Waterloo Bridge, Somerset House, the National Theatre and the South Bank Centre.

2001-2002

Snape Maltings, Suffolk

Commissioning of a proposal by Alison Wilding and Richard Wilson for the grounds of Snape Maltings, Suffolk. Alison Wilding was chosen to create a new work, which was completed and installed in 2003.

2001-2002

Open University Business School

An integrated art programme for the Open University Business School designed by Jestico and Whiles with landscape by J&L Gibbons.

2001-2002

London Borough of Newham

Public Art Advisors to the London Borough of Newham for the project ‘Drawing Newham’ led by artist James Pyman in collaboration with the Campaign for Drawing working with local community groups schools and the West Ham United Football Club’s Study Support Unit.

2001

Art & Landscape advisor to the London Borough of Camden

Working with the borough’s Arts and Tourism department culminating in an artist and composer collaborative project for St George’s Gardens, Bloomsbury, London.