MA Art and Cultural Sciences - Modern and Contemporary Art History
MSc. Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage- Photography
WHAT IS PLACEMAKING?
Placemaking challenges previous methods of city planning and promotes a new approach whereby the community is at the center. By means of data collecting, the needs and wants of the community are put into focus and through a collaborative effort, a place that is reflective of the people who inhabit it is created.
The Lens Trees (1988) is one of the many artworks by Thom Puckey (1948). Its location at the Binnengasthuis terrein in the University Quarter makes it interactive with people from all walks of life. These include students, administrative staff and residents. The public artwork stands 7 meters high and comprises 3 tree-like shapes cast in bronze suited with a patinated finish. The trees hold a total of 6 lenses secured between the branches, each lens consisting of a Fresnel inner lens sandwiched between two Lexan outer covers. The Lexan covers have discolored over time. This has prevented the artwork from fully engaging with its surroundings and its audience. Last year, placemaking students advocated for the conservation of the artwork and initiated contact with various stakeholders including the artist, the Gemeente and Kunstwacht. At present, conservation treatment of the work is underway.
AIM AND RESEARCH QUESTION
Our main aim was to identify the role of each stakeholders. During our interviews, it became clear that they are unaware of one anothers’ role. This resulted in some stakeholders taking up a primary role while others were somewhat absent. Understanding each stakeholder's role, is the first step towards creating better communication between all parties. We are confident this is important to ensure future preservation of the Lens Trees. Hence, our research question:
How might we initiate dialogue between the various stakeholders in order to improve communication and ensure better care for the artwork?
Photograph on the right shows Thom Puckey (1948) in front of the Lens Trees. Image from artist's personal archive
THE DESIGN THINKING METHOD
Similarly to Placemaking, design thinking is a human-centered approach to design. The method focuses on the empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test phases. The empathize and define phases were crucial in understanding how best to proceed with our plan. Firstly, contact with the artist and stakeholder, Thom Puckey was made. This allowed us to get an insight of the current situation and his wishes for the artwork. We also contacted two residents living in the building overlooking the Lens Trees, the Gemeente and Kunstwacht. Listening to the opinions of the stakeholders helped us establish the research question during the define phase. Due to the nature of the issue, reaching out to and getting in contact with stakeholders was our main point of focus.
STAKEHOLDER MAPS (PRESENT AND PROPOSED)
The feedback we received from the stakeholders led us to create the following stakeholder maps. The first map shows the relation each stakeholder to the Lens Trees and each other, at present. The second map depicts our proposed line of communication between the stakeholders.
Thanks to the efforts of last year's group of placemaking students the Lens Trees are currently being worked on and conservation work on the lenses is underway.
Picture on the left shows the lenses being removed from the sculpture, on November 22, 2023. Photograph taken by Nicole Vassalo
Familiarize yourself with the stakeholders' issues
Keep in close contact with the stakeholders and professor to see if any changes have occured
(visually) Map out all individual problems
Get acquainted with the proper lines of communication, especially when dealing with individual stakeholders, company structures or the municipality
Rush through individual design thinking steps
Paraphrase or presume stakeholder issues
Draw conclusions from incomplete research
Underestimate the amount of time spent dealing with bureaucracy