Work for the public realm, for buildings, streetscapes, and countryside, involves collaborations with many others: planners, local communities, architects, poets, designers and craftspeople, to name just some. The artwork is not necessarily an end in itself, but a means of animating a place, of enriching it, or expressing how the people who inhabit that place feel about it.
Every place is different, with a different history, cultural/political heritage, pattern of usage and future. All these are considered in the artwork’s design, along with the artist’s own reactions, concerns and aspirations. Conversations with other stakeholders in the commission are vital to the design process from the outset, both to understand the motivation behind the project and to establish a shared vision. If it is not to be mere decoration the piece must have some purpose in its place, operating usually on a number of levels: practical, intellectual and spiritual, for example. In the best work, place, purpose and artwork can fuse as one whole exhilarating experience.
Mary Bourne has completed more than thirty commissions for public places since the mid 1980s. A selection is shown here.