History of public art commissioning and cultural partnerships

Cultural partnerships

The University of Bristol has a strong track record of public art commissioning. Commissions have been guided by the expertise of a number of internationally renowned public art producers including: Situations, Field Arts Projects, Willis Newson. We are currently working with the Contemporary Art Society to deliver a programme of public art commissions alongside two new University developments: Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and Campus Heart and the New University Library.

We work closely with Bristol’s vibrant community of cultural sector organisations and creative practitioners. The University’s Public Art Advisory Panel includes staff from across the University working alongside representatives from leading arts organisations in Bristol:

The Public Art Advisory Panel reports to the University’s Heritage and Public Art Committee.

Public art and the University context

The research and academic landscape at the University of Bristol provides a rich context within which artists can make work. Inviting artists to work on interdisciplinary projects at the University brings valuable perspectives to research and can improve the visibility and impact of research. It can also inspire artists to try new approaches and create innovative work. This website highlights some of the different ways in which the University has worked with artists on inspiring public art projects in recent years.

The University’s Cultural Collections, which includes Special Collections and the Theatre Collection, often provide inspiration for artist-led temporary projects, installations and permanent artworks. Artist’s responses to University collections, such as artist Tom Marshman’s interpretative performance events inspired by the Oliver Messel archive, have opened up archives through creative interpretation, making them more public facing.

Residencies and collaborative projects – initiated by the Brigstow InstitutePublic Engagement and others – invite artists to use artistic practices to provoke debate and start conversations between academics and people in our city about the ethical and societal impacts of research.

Taking part in city-wide projects with international artists and leading arts organisations in the city such as Arnolfini for Seeds of Change, A Floating Ballast Seed Garden, and Knowle West Media Centre for University of Local Knowledge have enabled inspiring co-production with communities and cultural sector partners.

Commissions for permanent works such as Follow MeVoronoi Screen and Atlas, have celebrated and explored the opening of new University buildings or significant moments in its history, drawing upon both histories and futures.

Tom Marshman wearing mask on face and waving paper flag. Photo: Vonalina Cake
Primary school pupils at thFestival of Nature schools day