Thank you, Jay Merrick, for joining the discussion on art and the public realm (Ajenda, AJ 24.2.05) following my offering (AJ 27.1.05).
I like his idea that art in public spaces is fine because it is an 'experiment', but I'm not sure the promulgators would consider this a compliment. Rather than being 'simply an ingredient in an urban mix', I fear their undertakings are more deliberate and permanent.
Merrick suspects that the real villain is 'clumsy, top-down urban and cultural change', rather than public art per se, and I go along with that, as I hope my praise for the King's Road showed. We are all interested in public spaces, but I think we are right to be fearful when the words 'place-making' are closely followed by 'public art'.
Maybe we can agree that the vigour of the public realm is probably rooted in something less formal, like this very non-compliant border on the Stockwell Road (pictured).
Crispin Kelly, via email