CARDIFF.-The new name and branding for the organisation responsible for public art in Wales has been unveiled today, Tueday 27th November, through a dramatic logo projection onto one of Cardiff Bay’s iconic public landmarks, the Water Tower, adjacent to Wales Millennium Centre. The name chosen for the national arts organisation is Safle, Welsh for place or position.
“We want there to be a place for public art in public spaces in Wales,” said Wiard Sterk, Executive Director of Safle. “Our new name reflects this objective and also conveys the notion of a sense of place - something we feel is achieved successfully by the inclusion of public works of art in urban contexts. Without public art, developments and open spaces are devoid of character and inspiration and nations would be much poorer, culturally and economically, as a result.”
The branding itself is vivid yellow, with clean black diagonal lines, drawing the eye towards the centre, representing the centre of attention or focus, which public art commands in architectural design schemes. Internationally renowned agency Bureau for Visual Affairs was commissioned to help create the name and brand, as well as the website and printed material of the new body.
The naming of the new organisation marks the completion of merger formalities between two of Wales’ leading public arts organisations, CBAT, the Arts & Regeneration Agency and Cywaith Cymru - Artworks Wales, which have up to now been operating under the temporary name of Public Art Wales. This merger was funded with a Lottery grant by the Arts Council of Wales which also facilitated the project.
Peter Tyndall, Chief Executive of The Arts Council of Wales, said, "The Arts Council of Wales facilitated and provided the funding for the creation of this new Public Art organisation and believes that it will offer an exciting opportunity to promote the fundamental part that art can play in enhancing both our urban and rural landscapes. It will also play a key role in the Arts Council of Wales's aim to make art accessible to all the people of Wales. I would like to pay tribute to all of those involved in the creation and development of the new organisation."
Simon Piehl, Bureau for Visual Affairs, said, “The Safle identity is based around one core aspect or aspiration, which is to make public art publicly accessible - by making it approachable, understandable and tangible.
“The identity's 'X' is symbolic for the location - and will be used prominently to 'mark the spot' in the public space, even before a piece appears. The art is sensitive to its location, in fact, it is specifically commissioned for it - so location is a big deal.
“The bold style of the identity signifies the self-confidence of the newly created body, there to make a visual impact and to be seen as a connector between the punter's world and the rarified and chronically inaccessible work of contemporary art. The more robust stance means it is open for interaction and for questioning / engagement - it is not, as a gallery space might be - a mere projection space.
“Yellow, as a colour, is a very public colour - it is used as a signal colour throughout the public space, so it finds a natural home in this application. It is also positive and direct, not fussy and primary, i.e. unbroken and energetic.”
The launch of the new branding coincides with ArtOutside, an initiative aimed at celebrating all aspects of public art in Wales. It also encourages people from across Wales to think about public art and to debate and engage with Safle to help formulate public art strategies to meet the needs of communities across Wales.
ArtOutside events range from an online photographic forum of public art landmarks- www.bigartmob.com/blog/artoutside - in association with the award-winning Big Art Mob initiative, part of Channel 4’s Big Art Project, to artist-led school projects and the unveiling of new public works of art in Aberafan and Cardiff.
Wiard Sterk, added, “One of Safle’s core aims is to engage with people from across Wales to make public art mainstream in our society. Public art is much more than a physical statement – it has a pivotal role to play in delivering successful economic regeneration in Wales.
“We already have a range of exciting projects happening in all corners of Wales – from the Big Art project in Cardigan, to Bala’s Rural Life Centre, to Aberafan’s new public art structure and to school projects taking place in Holyhead and Swansea. We are determined to work with artists and communities across Wales to enrich our open spaces with public art commissions, which will benefit both current and future generations.”
Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Heritage Minister, said, “Safle, by the use of strong, dynamic branding, is making a statement for itself and for public art in Wales. It’s making a place for public art in contemporary Wales, a place which will benefit our nation in economic and cultural terms.
“Public art has already shown how effective a role it can play in regenerating communities. Cardiff Bay’s Water Tower, designed in 2000 by Nicholas Hare Architects, in collaboration with the sculptor William Pye, is a shining example and a focal point for visitors to the Bay. It inspires, it intrigues and engages people of all backgrounds and ages.
“Public art has a key role to play in regenerating public spaces in Wales. As Safle is launched, I’d like to wish the organisation every success in helping build a strong, dynamic Wales, through the creative and inspiring use of public art.”