Public Sculptures can make an Impact on People

Introduction – Public Sculptures

Public art can make a big difference to the way the public space is used. When art is in the public realm it can create deep meanings for individuals and bring about significance to the place. There are some prominent sculptures around the world that define the space and gives the space an identity. The oeuvre of the public art and the way the art is made, particularly sculptures, can create a synergy between people and space. Obviously, the artist is the most important person who decides how the art is made, but when the art is in a public sphere, it is no more just left to the artist. Pleasing people and gaining attention from people, particularly by making the art interactive, is one of the key aspects of having sculptures in the public space. In many countries, the City or District Council decides how the art is placed in the public space and what the significance of the art is. The art is also commissioned by the Council via taxpayers money and extra external funding such as Public-Private Partnerships. Whatever the procedure, public art can bring about change in the public realm and create a community.

Some examples of successful public art are:

Bean Sculpture (Cloud Gate) in Chicago’s Millenium Park – The Bean sculpture is an instant eye-catcher and playful sculpture that directs the skyline of Chicago in its concave shaped mirror. It is a must visit sculpture for anyone interested in art and public space. It changes the entire public space and directly draws attention. People stand around it, touch it and take photographs with it which are all signs of interaction. It creates a sense of place because the sculpture is the main attraction in the Park. It’s ability to draw people and create imaginations while supporting tactile movements around the art is a true example of interactive sculpture.

Bean Sculpture

Trafalgar Square, London – Trafalgar Square is a permanent and one of the most prominent public spaces in the world. It draws in many artworks and the new fourth plinth has many temporary sculptures that attract people. The Fourth Plinth changes on a regular basis and has had some controversial and interesting sculptures so far.  The statue of the lion is also one that many people interact with. People sit on the lions, take pictures and it is an attraction for children and young people. It also has many fountains and events very regularly drawing people into the public space. Nelson’s Column is also a symbol of London relating to the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It is a must visit for locals and tourists.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square Lion


Melbourne’s Docklands Sculptures – Melbourne’s Docklands is located in the harbourside of Melbourne. It has interactive sculptures although they are mostly temporary in nature. The Docklands brings people to observe the water and spend time in the space at the same time.  There is a park, seating, cafes and other amenities that are provided in the Docklands and it is also a place where the Melbourne artists showcase their sculptures on a regular basis to bring people into the public space and to help them notice the artworks. Harbors like this form a great public space for people to enjoy and they are found in many places around the world.

Melbourne's Docklands Sculptures

Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour –  Similar to Docklands, the Auckland’s viaduct harbor is a great place for people to enjoy the space while also visit cafes, museums and see sculptures. It is also a great place to walk as there are many amenities and wide walking spaces. There is also a small pool and an open library that allows people to stay in the space for a long time. The Sound of Sea sculpture is by far one of the most interactive sculptures in New Zealand. It brings many people together to sit on it and explore the sculpture. The sculpture is located close to the harbor and people can sit on the funnel and view the ships and harbourside activities. The water also creates a peaceful and surreal ambience that draws people to stay in the space for a long time.

Auckland's Viaduct Harbour

Concluding points

These sculptures show how some of the art in our public spaces can make an enormous impact on the people who use the public space. More countries around the world should adopt public art in their public spaces so that people can come together and enjoy the space. The synergy between the art and the person is powerful and one that every individual need to experience. Although all art is interactive in some way, when art has a tactile composition to it, it becomes more engaging and attractive. It is important that more city councils enable interactive art in their public spaces, and there should also be more Private Public Partnerships so that both the private and the public sectors can invest in public art. There are many more sculptures around the world that are making an impact such as sculpture gardens and parks. This creates a people space and not only brings people together but also makes the bonds people have with each other stronger and enjoyable.