Barnaby AIR (Artist in Residence)
This arts-based consultation programme supported by Macclesfield Town Council aimed to work with local partners, communities, artists and businesses to co-create art in the public realm that can help Macclesfield Town Centre recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The brief was to establish principles and themes for community co-commissioning, working with key partners to identify opportunities and match funding.
There are 3 key outcomes from the programme:
Community consultation for input to future Barnaby development.
There were 6 community consultations carried out in various ways and in different parts of the town –Digital\Social Media, Treacle Market June 2021, Macclesfield Library October 2021, Weston Park October 2021, The Moss June 2022 and finally Treacle Market June 2022. There are some key overall themes as follows:
- Green spaces – using existing and/or creating new green spaces in creative ways. Places to inspire; places to participate in activities, to read a book, to meet friends and to socialise.
- Colour and pattern – many comments on the potential use of colour and pattern; creating vibrant interventions that brighten up the town, not frightened of using bright palettes. Not always literal, or figurative, as long as engaging and relevant.
- Stories – work that connects to people, doesn’t have to be the big stories, can be the little ones too. Storytelling spaces set aside for this activity
Scoped projects for potential future use
The suggestions for future projects in the town are summarised as:
- Conversation Benches. This would create 10/15 benches around Macclesfield (joint development by local artists and community groups) that then form a “bench trail” with stories to promote conversation
- Creative Roundabouts. The consultees talked about entrance points into Macclesfield, including the roundabouts. They suggested interventions on the roundabouts to announce that you are in Macclesfield. Ideas include creating work that is ‘land art’, using planting and aggregate to create work that represents the topography and geology of the area. Other creative interventions could represent the town’s story, perhaps in more abstract forms using pattern and colour
- Celebration of Green Spaces. Green spaces were a significant theme throughout the community conversations, demonstrating that there’s a strong desire to make more of existing spaces and to create new ones. A creative programme celebrating green spaces could be developed. Barnaby could work in partnership with many of the existing ‘green’ organisations in Macclesfield, as well as the Town Council, helping to bring these organisations together.
There were 4 micro-commissions delivered over the course of the project
- The Barnaby Bench was the creation and completion of a brightly coloured park bench inspired by the consultation sessions at Treacle Market (2021) and on the Weston (October 2021).
- A film which explored existing public art in Macclesfield as well as the potential of light art over the winter, using the Magic Lanterns trail and the Town Hall snowflake projection as inspiration.
- A flower arch – this is a sculptural steel arch which will support growing plants and flowers. This will be sited in a public area in Macclesfield
- The Map is a visual representation of the consultation rather than a geographic map. It forms part of the manifesto for public art in Macclesfield and has been created by Fabric Lenny to reflect the artwork that already exists in Macclesfield, as well as locations for potential artworks. It also features some of the comments from the year-long consultation process.
Barnaby AIR has delivered a real insight into the people of Macclesfield’s attitude to public art and we can also note that there’s a palpable desire to see more of it on our streets and in our neighbourhoods.