Creative Stoke


 Event Report: "Love Ties" Launch.

Following a £1-million boost to accessible public art in Stoke-on-Trent, three ambitious sculpture projects are nearing completion across the city.

The first to launch is "Love Ties" in the Hanley Park, just around the corner from the University

Emily Campbell
Artist Emily Campbell at the launch of her 'Love Ties'.

and the train station, aimed at making the park a more friendly and welcoming place than previously.

Artist Emily Campbell (Letting in the Light) has created art that gets under the skin of a place,

The Lord Mayor launches 'Love Ties'. (Larger version)

by appealing to the emotions through a "slow art" - an art that slowly cultivates the heart through seeing it again and again as a part of one's everyday life. And it does so quietly, without using the sculptural equivalent of "shouting" at the viewer.

As Hanley Park comes to life again through elected-Mayor Mike Wolfe's Greening for Growth strategy, this art shows us an aspect of physical regeneration that works with words & feelings to both evoke, re-work and lay-down personal memory. This is vital for generating a sense of 'ownership' on the part of park users. There are three main works as part of Emily Campbell's work in the park.

Hanley Park lake & main island - with a new line of brushed-steel lettering around the edge. " if on a different horizon..." (Larger version)

The first and most noticable is the robust & chunky lettering ("Do You Feel It Too?") that forms a small seating/play area. The second is a line of brushed steel lettering that lines the central island in the park's lake. All the words are words of & about love. The third will be lettering set into the stone risers of the steps to the upper level of the park. The latter will be installed very shortly, and will read "Do you know what it is, this sublime feeling, do you feel it too?". The island work can be seen as being in the long neo-Romantic tradition of using the English landscape to convey emotional states through art.

The main seating/play sculpture on the bank that runs down to the lake. (Larger version)

Seven other arts projects are happening in the park, alongside and in combination with 'Love Ties':

Jayne Murray has been setting

Appreciating the 'Love Ties' island.
(Larger version)

up a flower-stall and asking visitors to select flowers that signify love to them, and to who them might send them. Jayne is working with a flower arranger to design bouqets that will be left at strategic points.

Anne Kinniard, Marion Adams and Christine Watkins are working with local people in relation to the project, and Darryl O'Hara is making a film of the project. Nick Lee at Keele University is writing an evaluation.

In total, 'Love Ties' is about regeneration through engaging people and their 'social capital', something that has to happen in a genuine way if Stoke-on-Trent is

'Another Gift' at Stoke, by Liz Lemon. Spring 06.

to have a real chance of sustainable regeneration.

'Love Ties' takes place alongside two other major works of public sculpture in an SRB4 project totalling over £400,000.

One of the other major sculptures include Liz Lemon's 'Another Gift' (seen right), sited on the 'Stoke Approach' opposite Stoke's oldest church and the Council offices. The completed work should look like the computer-rendered visualisation seen on the right.

The other is sited in Etruria, alongside the road from Newcastle-under-Lyme to the city centre, and was made by artist Denis O'Connor. The work was not contracted-out, and Denis actually made the works himself.

Denis's 'Privilege' work (seen below) is designed to encapsulate Stoke's industrial past of ceramics, steel and coal. It is complemented by extremely high-quality seating and landscaping.

'Privilege' sculpture at Etruria, by Denis O'Connor.

Project partners were:

Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Stoke Approach.

Advantage West Midlands.

Keele University (Nick Lee, project evaluation).