The success of Maggie’s Penguin Parade has highlighted how sculpture can bolster civic pride, a Dundee University academic has said.
Janice Aitken, associate dean for public and community engagement at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, said the success of charity art trails would also help to inspire future generations of artists.
Ms Aitken, who created the original design used for the Dundee cancer charity’s summer fundraiser, made the comments as she prepares to speak on the topic of public art at the Arts Café on October 2.
She said: “Having a sense of fun and civic pride makes any city a more positive place to live.
“Public and community art is an important way to encourage young people to see art, design and other creative work as viable career paths.
“We need mathematicians, engineers and scientists, but we also need to encourage creative thinkers as these skills can make a huge difference to establishing a sense of community.”
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In her talk, Ms Aitken will speak about the benefits of public art and her association with the Penguin Parade, which saw 80 different sculptures put in place throughout Dundee and the surrounding area over the summer.
With the penguin sculptures having since been sold off to raise a total of £540,000 for Maggie’s, Janice said building a connection between public art and the communities in which it is situated is critical to its success.
She said: “The competition to decorate the penguins was an open competition, involving hundreds of people submitting designs.
“The engagement with schools was also hugely important, and it was so important to involve children with the project.
“It’s never a good idea to just parachute pieces of public art into a community as they have no relationship with it.
“The penguins worked so well because they made people smile and because they helped to raise money for Maggie’s, which does such wonderful work here in Dundee.”
The talk, titled Penguins – Public Art on Parade, takes place in the McManus Café, McManus Gallery, on October 2 at 6pm and entry is free.