The It’s Nice That Podcast: discussing the attributes of public art

1 February 2017

In light of the Fourth Plinth shortlist exhibition at The National Gallery, the third edition of The It’s Nice That Podcast discusses public art. It’s Nice That founders Alex and Will discuss how useful it is, how it is judged, and what truly makes a piece of artwork striking within a communal environment.

To begin, Radio Wolfgang took to the streets of Trafalgar Square asking the general public their thoughts of the current Fourth Plinth, David Shrigley’s Really Good. Overall, the positivity of David’s piece stopped tourists and London natives in their tracks, including a lady who remarked that the elongated thumb captured a surprising resemblance to her cousin’s reconstructed thumb, which actually used a toe…

To provide an academic angle on public art, Alex and Will spoke to Professor of Public Art at Goldsmiths University, Andrew Shoben. The professor has been involved within public art for many years, creating it with and without permission. For Andrew, public art should ultimately have the goal to create a meaningful experience within a public space, it should involve the public, “or create a sense that the public are in the middle of it,” he explains.

After learning that Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North is the most successful piece of public art, Alex and Will posed the question of what attributes a piece of public art should contain to be protected. To grasp this process they spoke to listings advisor at Historical England, Posy Metz. Posy’s role is to advise the government whether buildings or in this case, structures, should be added to a list of special architectural interest. In this segment, Posy explains the process of her job working in an area that is so subjective, describing the factors that inform her decisions on works across England.

To conclude, the pair interviewed Michael Rakowitz, a shortlisted artist for a proposed Fourth Plinth in 2018 and 2020. In Michael’s piece The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, the Iraqi-American artist proposes a replica of a protective deity Lamassu which Isis destroyed in 2015. The majority of sculpture will be made from Iraqi packaging.

You can listen to the podcast in full here.

Share Article

About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019, was made deputy editor and in November 2021, she became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.