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Subject: Skateboarding and public art

Skateboarding and public art

From: Thomas Dixon <dixon-tom<-a>
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Vanessa Wiggin <vanessa [at] artworksconservation__com> writes

>I am currently writing a conference paper and would like to
>communicate with others who have dealt with the issue of the use of
>public art by skateboarders, BMX riders etc.  I am interested in
>both attempts to stop this  use and situations where it  was
>tolerated or even encouraged.  Any pointers to relevant papers would
>also be greatly appreciated.

While not a piece of public art, Melbourne's Federation Square was
designed in the period around 2000. Skateboards were recognized as a
growing problem in public spaces and part of the design brief was to
reduce or eliminate their impact.  The solution was the use of a
random pattern of paving stones about 2 inch or 100mm square set out
of level so each stone is approximately 1/2 inch or so higher or
lower than adjacent pavers.  This creates a rough surface that would
be nearly impossible to operate a skateboard on.

Though I imagine it might be tricky to negotiate this surface with
high heels, otherwise I think it has been pretty successful.  I've
never seen a skateboard on it, the surface is visually very
attractive and I'm not aware of complaints from users.  BMX bikes
are controlled by the 24 hour security staff. There have been
constant problems with large public sculptures in the central city
area sustaining minor damage from skateboarders actually riding
their boards on some sculptures.

This bring up the issue of the balance of preservation vs.
accessibility. I know two artists whose pieces are constantly
damaged but understandably don't wish their pieces moved or cordoned
off.

Tom Dixon
Melbourne Australia


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:36
                 Distributed: Monday, December 15, 2008
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Received on Tuesday, 9 December, 2008

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