Patricia MacKinnon-Day

Making Visible the Invisible – CABE, Project Award, Cambridge 2005 - 2009

Making Visible the Invisible.
CABE Seminar< London 2006. Chaired by Maggie Bolt, Director PASW

1. What qualities and characteristics make a great place?
2. How can art and the work of artists contribute to shaping, creating and making places?
3. What specific skills are needed to great places?
4. What precise role do artists want in regeneration projects?
5 What is the future for artists in regeneration projects and place-making?

The project began in 2005 and ended in 2009. I was appointed as the lead and consultant artist for the Orchard Park development, a “Sustainable Urban Extension” on the fringes of north west Cambridge promoted by Gallagher Estates, Lands Improvement Holdings Plc, Unex technical Services Limited and Cambridge City Council (The Land Owners) which on completion had the potential to deliver a scheme of up to a maximum of 900 residential dwellings and approximately 18,000 sq. metres of Commercial development. I had the responsibility to secure the inclusion of public art in the infrastructure of this development and to establish a strategic approach to be adopted by other developers and artists working on the site. I believe that the main objective set out at the beginning of the project were fulfilled and supported. As an artist my role was to develop a strategy that would instil some soul into an otherwise faceless housing development.

In this development I produced designs for the implementation of permanent and temporary installations, which were accepted by the stakeholders.
The temporary installations include LED signs and a time-lapse video projection. The permanent installations include playground structures based on jelly moulds once used by Chivers, a public square referencing the Unwin sweet pea trial ground and the construction of a Glass Library (2009) incorporating materials sourced from local archives and etchings for the community centre.

A high quality publication with critical essays was completed in 2008 documenting the public art strategy for the site. I have also produced a public art strategy and developer guidance document Making Visible the Invisible (2006) in collaboration with Commissions East April. This was used to ensure that all future commissioned national and international artists worked within a coherent framework.
Public Realm, a publication published by the Arts Council England included an interview with Jes Fernie (architect and writer) about my role as lead artist and my work with master planners.

My responsibilities for the development continued in 2007 as advisor to the Orchard Park Management Group until the completion of the development in 2009.

This project tested my organisational and management skills. Tight budgets, planning restrictions, and prejudice influenced the development of certain concepts. I often felt challenged to try and reconsider ideas and installations without compromising my ideas. I learnt a great deal from this project, especially whilst working closely with other professionals who were always open and generous with their support. Problems were often resolved through good discussion with the design and project management groups, which enabled me to re-think materials and structures. I enjoyed this level of engagement and interaction.

The Orchard Park project has enabled me to develop new skills and knowledge to push the boundaries of visual arts practice within the built environment. .
The PROJECT award though engagement with other award artists developed further my national reputation for the research and investigative base of my practice, which resulted in, work resonant of context, people and place.
Increased my knowledge and people skills when working with various arts institutions, corporate bodies, and design and development professionals.
The PROJECT award led to further opportunities for my services as a consultant, as an adviser, as a project manager and as an installation artist to engage in other new and exciting projects. .