Should public art be place-specific?
For me it is important, but I don’t think it is always necessary. A lot of great art can be moved around. Almost all my work is generated from a situation, a place perhaps – because it helps me pin things down. Take Eros in Piccadilly Circus. That’s a fantastic thing that could take a trip and be enjoyed in many other places. Yet it also now makes that place. You hope that a place has triggered an idea that gives a piece of work its depth. And if you are fitting it into a particular slot, then that makes you carve it into some sort of partnership. The two pieces I created for Balham High Street, one from faience tiles under the railway bridge, and the other a large scale digital print on an ‘ugly’ gable end wall had a brief to give greater identity. I squinted and looked at the High Street, and I saw all these painted white Victorian architectural details, the keystones, brackets, string courses and window frames and that’s what I used for the large white digital print piece [on the ‘ugly wall’]. Under the bridge, using beautiful green faience tiles, I used some of those details, with patterns derived from the rhythm of rooftops to create a kind of hum, or resonance that reflected the busy-ness of the High Street. Both pieces have a musical aspect, like a score, or a large instrument.
Tod was commissioned by Wandsworth Council and the Balham Partnership via arts consultant Modus Operandi to work with Metropolitan Workshop to create locally-distinctive art works on three sites in Balham town centre.
Tod Hanson, artist