As reported earlier this year, the council's Curate Enfield project involves creating art trails in the borough's five most important town centres: Enfield Town, Edmonton Green, Angel Edmonton, Palmers Green and Southgate.
While work on the Palmers Green art trail is well advanced (four new sites will be officially launched on 10th November), for Southgate the project is only at the stage where artists are invited to bid for the work to create the trail, under the title A Portrait of Southgate. It will form "part of a masterplan of integrated interventions delivered by Enfield Council to improve Southgate town centre for residents, communities and visitors".
Also included in the masterplan will be the public realm improvements in Ashfield Parade, in the green area close to the bus station and along the pavement areas of Chase Side - these are due to be carried out in the first half of 2024. They are intended to
- Improve the everyday experience of young people, families and elders, green the public realm and make it more accessible and welcoming.
- Create spaces where people can feel at ease and engaged, proposing new uses and opportunities for them to come together in the town centre.
As with the art trails planned for the other four town centres, the brief for the artist's commission has been developed by "public art champions", consisting of a "young art champion" (in this case Poppy Medenis) and a "local community champion" (Jane Maggs from Southgate District Civic Voice), both mentored by established local artist Dan Meier.
While the art trail in Palmers Green consists of murals, these are ruled out in Southgate because wall areas are not available there, so the art champions instead envisage "3-dimensional artwork and/or functional design such as seating or lighting/sound installation". The chosen locations are the roundabout at Southgate Circus, Southgate Library and hanging basket posts (currently unused) along Chase Side.
"Not seen as conducive to a social environment"
The artist's brief explains the background to the choice of locations:
- As the town centre has several roads leading off the circus, the trail idea is to link the different retail areas and amenities to create a greater feeling of cohesion and encourage footfall.
- Local feedback includes: “Southgate is a very grey area,” “the library is not inviting and appears to look closed.”
- There is a sense that people do not want to dwell on the High Street and Chase Side, as there is a lack of seating and greenery. The shopping centre is not seen as conducive to a social environment.
- The pavements are quite wide in areas and the hanging basket poles are unused for most of the year. There have not been baskets for some time, so there are opportunities for artwork.
Impactful, engaging, accessible and representative
Other requirements are that the artwork should be:
- Impactful in a positive way - vibrant, high calibre work
- Engaging – attracting our audience to interact with it
- Accessible to all, including people with different types of disability. It could include an element of music, song, sound or other sensory elements, such as being tactile
- Representative of the local community: A portrait in which people feel recognised and that relates to their heritage
- Durable and low maintenance
Artists have until 14th November to submit their initial proposals and the winner is due to be selected shortly before Christmas. The chosen artist then has until May, working interactively with local communities, to develop their final design and obtain planning permission. Public launch of the completed art works is due next September.
Call for proposals: a new art trail for Southgate (Artist's brief published by Journeys & Places team, Enfield Council)
Towards a 'green, vibrant and inclusive' Southgate town centre (Palmers Green Community 30 September 2023)
A public art trail for Green Lanes alleyways (Palmers Green Community 11 April 2023)