What is Public Art?

What is Public Art?

Awareness-raising week: 4-8 March 2019

Is it large? Or small? Is it abstract or functional? Can it be a bench, a lamp post or a window? Is it a sculpture, a picture, a film? How can it change our daily lives? Where on campus would you put it? Could it improve our wellbeing? What do you think?

The University of Reading is commissioning a series of new public art works for the campus. As we prepare to welcome our first artist later in 2019, we want to spark some curiosity and invite discussion about the what, why, where and how of public art. Join us!

Photo ‘21 Balançoires, Promenade des Artistes’ by art_inthecity, CC BY 2.0. Cropped from the original. Artist: Daily Tous Les Jours

Different activities will take place each day during the lunchtime period, including:

Chalk Drawing

Drop by to take a look or have a go at our giant pavement chalk drawing! This project is led by Art Student Antonia Stanley, who has been on placement with Arts Development Officer Miranda Laurence.

Monday 4 March 12-2pm, Outside Palmer

Lunchtime Workshop

A short, fun and informal workshop to introduce different ideas of public art and ask what difference you think it could make at Reading! Nibbles provided, bring your lunch.

Sign up in advance by emailing m.c.laurence@reading.ac.uk or turn up on the day (places are limited)

Tuesday 5 March 1-2pm, Palmer G02

Friday 8 March 1-2pm, Palmer G06

Information Stall

Drop by to find out more about public art, what it could mean for Reading University and feed in your ideas.

Wednesday 6 March 12-2pm, Library Foyer

‘Tree Walks’

As part of her micro-residency at Reading University, artist Rachel Barbaresi invites participants to join a Tree Walk on campus, to collectively and creatively research the natural environment in which we live, work and study.

Sign up in advance by emailing m.c.laurence@reading.ac.uk; please wear appropriate clothing and foot wear!

Wednesday 6 March, 10am and 11.30 at MERL Gardens (meet at MERL); 2pm and 3.30pm at Whiteknights Campus (meet at Library Foyer)

(in wet weather, this will be postponed)

Artist talk

Multi-disciplinary artist Tai Shani talks about her work in this regular series of talks from the Art School.

Wednesday 6 Mach, 1-2pm, Nike Lecture Theatre, Agriculture Building

Living Sculptures

Drop by to discover some ‘living sculptures’ playfully interrupting your journey across campus…

This project is led by Art Student Antonia Stanley, who has been on placement with Arts Development Officer Miranda Laurence.

Thursday 7 March 1-2pm, near Friends’ Bridge (in wet weather, this will take place outside URS)


Throughout the week:

Pick up a #Whatispublicart postcard, respond to the question on the card, and post it in the special post boxes in the Library Foyer. You can be entered into a random prize draw!

Postcards and other design has been produced by Typography student Jack Marvell on the RealJobs Scheme.

Look out for #Whatispublicart on Twitter, follow @Rdg_uni_arts to respond with your images and ideas about public art on Reading’s campuses.

This project is led by Museum Studies student Gracie Price.

Lunchtime Encounters

The PER[form] space is a temporary wooden structure sited on the main campus, designed and built by second-year architecture students, in collaboration with the School of Arts and Communication Design, who acted as the ‘client’ in this replica real-life architectural brief. Students also worked with the School of Architecture’s academics, Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio, and Charley Brentnall of Carpenter Oak.

The structure was built in just three days, and was then the home of a programme of varied activity by students from the Department of Film, Theatre and Television, and the ‘Lunchtime Encounters’ programme led by the Arts Strategy. Over two weeks, University staff and students were invited to visit the structure over lunchtime, encountering a variety of ideas, activities, knowledge and discussions drawn from across the University’s activities. These ranged from a performance of musical saw playing, to introductions to our campus museums, from provocations about food wastage to an insight into essential oils.

Find out more about what happened during the Lunchtime Encounters programme by scrolling through the slides below. You can also watch a documentary video about the process of designing and building the structure.



Invitation: PER[form]

Did anyone notice a greater than normal occurrence of students wearing hi-vis jackets and hard hats recently? Did you hear the noise of hammering drifting through the trees as you enjoyed the sunshine-drenched routes across campus? Did you glimpse a wooden structure gracefully rising between some of our beautiful trees on the Meadow?

Has your curiosity been piqued?

This is your invitation to come closer. Smell the pinewood scents as you approach. Listen to the sounds of nature, and watch shafts of sunlight falling through the honeycomb of the per[FORM] structure. What might you encounter when you come?

Every lunchtime between 12-2pm, from Monday 4 June to Thursday 14 June (weekdays only), all members of the University community are invited to drop into the per[FORM] structure for a programme of eclectic activity. Prepare to meet people you don’t yet know; to encounter new ideas, to touch and hear, see and smell.

You can drop by for 5 minutes or stay for two hours. Have a conversation; listen to the birdsong; take time to see your surroundings in a new way.

The Lunchtime Encounters programme initiative is part of the University’s new Arts Strategy and aims to bring people across the University together. You are invited to interact or experience imaginative and creative windows into some of the ideas, activities and events that stem from our researchers and students.

Bring a picnic, come along, see what’s going on. Feed your curiosity – what have you got to lose?

See you there!