News & Insights

Time to work through the process

Blue light filling the space to create an illusion of movement

As we approach Midsummer and the halfway point of the year – we’ve been reflecting on the theme of Time and how it relates to the different aspects of our work as public art consultants.

Published date: 21 June 2023

Clients are often short on time, artists always need time, and we try to keep everyone on time.

We’re reminded of the video projection The Clock which we saw at the Venice Biennale in 2011. It was a clever piece of film constructed out of moments from cinema featuring time, a clock, watch or particular time of day played out over 24 hours. As the viewer you experience time unravelling in countless directions at once. An interesting metaphor for commissioning public art.

Imagine being able to delegate the time-keeping element to experienced experts like us at FrancisKnight!

Producing public art is never a quick process. Even our shortest projects can run over several months and sometimes it takes years to move from initial conversations to final installation.

As public art custodians for a project, we act as guardians to protect the time for each contributor to play their part to their full potential. Challenges often occur, as many projects start with a sense of urgency. Commissioning clients face their own time-restraints, which can in turn impact the timescales for the project. These pressures can also affect their ability to commit and engage, which has a knock-on effect for us – for example, client hold-ups can mean we don’t get their approvals on time, delaying the momentum of the project moving forward.

Drawing on these experiences and knowledge we have developed our own unique project management process map, (following the same eight stages as the RIBA Plan of Work) to help us keep commissions on track and manage expectations. Being able to break up tasks, makes it easier to grasp what needs doing when, and who is responsible for what.

Each individual participant needs time to make their own valuable contribution, while our role is to bring everyone together – selecting artists, working with fabricators, engaging with communities and design teams and overseeing the whole project from end to end, managing the timeline and budget.

What if Time was infinite and you could step into a limitless project (with a budget to match) – much like Yayoi Kusama’s artworks where she creates infinite spaces for us to experience, where possibilities open up and the daily pressure of deadlines fades away.

We all need thinking time – no matter what we’re working on. Thinking is just as valuable, if not more, than the doing quite often.

So, we need to protect our Time to percolate ideas, talk about things, draw, write and reflect! This is the most precious part of a project and not necessarily captured on a process map directly.

How do you protect your time to ensure that all aspects of your work are supported to their full potential? How do you carve out space in your schedule to think and reflect? And how do you balance thinking and doing in your work?

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