Can art connect us to places?


Public art has always been a cornerstone of U+I’s approach to placemaking, so for our latest U+I Think event, hosted digitally in partnership with The Developer and Festival of Place, we invited artist Morag Myerscough to explain how art can create a sense of belonging and identity in communities.

Morag’s work is firmly rooted in a very personal experience of belonging – she believes her unconventional childhood led her to become an artist, as she looked to find her place in the world. Her installations and immersive spatial artworks encourage people to feel differently about their experience of where they are, whether an urban community garden or seafront parade.

A passionate advocate of using the power of art to transform places and champion community and public interaction, Morag’s first project with U+I was instrumental in developing this approach on a larger scale. Inspired by the poems of Lemn Sissay, she created a temporary café and events space called MVMNT in Greenwich. The bold and bright structure stood on a site in the midst of regeneration, giving her an appreciation of how public art can physically and emotionally bring people together.

Other projects for Dalston Curve Garden, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft and South London Gallery have invited communities to create stages, bandstands and structures that form connections between people and places.

Most recently, Morag has collaborated with In Good Company to create billboards and posters to thank front line workers. These colourful messages of support have appeared across the country and created a real sense of belonging amongst communities during the coronavirus pandemic. 

She explained how an open mind is essential when working with communities: “You can’t go in with a plan or any pre-conceived ideas for how the project will pan out. It’s crucial that you listen and respond to different people and cultures to create something that has meaning, that they can own.”

At U+I, we understand how crucial it is to understand places before developing them. Art is a way of engaging people at the outset, but only through meaningful interaction can you help them to feel differently about a place.

You can watch the full event here.