Robert Powell and Walter Jack – The Art of Good Design

Robert Powell: Director of Public Arts Wakefield

‘Inspire, Assist, Inform’ is the strap-line of the Wakefield based organisation Public Arts (now called BEAM). Through Executive Director, Robert Powell, it is dedicated to the imaginative understanding of, and improvements made to, the public realm. Public Arts has 18 years experience in the field of public art and its wider context of culture, regeneration, economic development, social inclusion, and education. It has created a strong approach aimed at ensuring imagination, appropriateness, and quality within the public realm.

One of Public Arts’ key programmes is ‘People Making Places’, which sets itself the task to “improve regional demand and capacity for high quality urban design by linking communities and professionals, experts and lay people, through an integrated programme of creative activities”. The programme is delivered regionally through wide ranging collaborations linked to ‘real places’ – selected regeneration and built environment sites where development is planned, possible, or underway. A publication of the same name has been produced that aims to challenge standard definitions, working methods, and barriers to change. A part of ‘People Making Places’ is the initiative called ‘Transformation Projects’, which use the skill of artists and other urban designers to raise awareness of the public realm through temporary installation and interventions.

Walter Jack: Designer – Walter Jack Studio Ltd

Walter Jack sees himself primarily as a Designer rather than an Artist. Working from his Studio in Bristol, he is interested in the creation of functional objects – mostly design based – made site specifically for buildings and the landscape. Past works include staircases, shelters and bridges as well as furniture. He enjoys commissions that encourage a re-interpretation of object archetypes and is influenced by architecture – in particular de-construction.

Walter Jack Studio have also completed a number of public artworks in the North of England, including the designs for St. Peter’s Square, Leeds, for which the studio was commended in the Leeds Architecture Awards 2003. He also co-created ‘The Green’, a demountable village green created in conjunction with Landscape Architects Whitelaw Turkington, commissioned by the Regional Development Agency Yorkshire Forward as one of Public Arts’ key ‘Transformation Projects’. The work was installed, deconstructed and re-built in Bridlington, Huddersfield, Halifax, Doncaster and Wakefield, and was titled ‘A Yorkshire Festival of Places’. Public Arts received an award for ‘Best Use of Public Art’ at the 2004 Roses Design Awards in Manchester.