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'Play is Anywhere' - new public art commission set to bring sense of playfulness to streets of Cambridge

News release from 25 March 2022

CAMBRIDGE City Council and Cambridge Junction have commissioned an artist and an artistic organisation to develop a new, playful, public artwork for people of all ages, set to begin soon in Cambridge.

The council, working in partnership with Cambridge Junction, can announce that Playful Anywhere and artist Pippa Hale have been commissioned to develop the project, called Play Is Anywhere, which will see opportunities for temporary and permanent ‘playful experiences’ created in an area at the boundary of four city wards: Coleridge, Petersfield, Queen Edith’s and Trumpington.

Engagement with local communities on developing the project will begin in the early summer, and any permanent locations for the work will be identified through a research and engagement process.

The Play Is Anywhere project will look to bring people of all ages together through playfulness, change how residents engage with urban space and imagine the potential of how it could be used differently in the future. More details of the project will be announced as it moves forward and is further developed.

Playful Anywhere is a Leeds-based company with a track record of working on projects to create playful conversations and connections in cities, including by deploying roving shipping container ‘Playboxes’ which are filled with fun and creative items for people to discover.

They have previously worked on participatory events, programmes and activities, and have devised and delivered festivals, open space events, civic participation events and more, encouraging people to get creative.

Pippa Hale is a contemporary artist who makes playful and playable artworks that respond to places. She works using a range of media including iron, neon, foam, food and inflatables, drawing upon the history and geography of locations to connect with audiences in new ways.

Cllr Anna Smith, Leader of the Council and Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “I am really looking forward to seeing – and joining in with – the results of this exciting artistic collaboration around the city. This art project promises to be not only great fun, but also give us a chance to reimagine how parts of the city can be used by residents and visitors in the future.”

Playful Anywhere and Pippa Hale said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with Cambridge City Council and Cambridge Junction on this project and excited about making a new, playful work of art for the city. Play Is Anywhere will embrace the concept of informal play, to create innovative and surprising experiences in public places; something that elicits wonder and delight and engages local communities.

“For us, it’s not just about making something playful, but something playable, something that is interactive, beautiful and joyful, something that responds to its location and the layers of history and geography. Playfulness is at the core of our respective practices and will inform both our process and end product.”

Matt Burman, CEO of the Junction said, “We are really excited to start working with Pippa and Playful Anywhere on Play is Anywhere and to be collaborating with Cambridge City Council on such a playful and significant public art commission. The project has enormous potential to change how we see and engage with the space around us, how we can positively disrupt the urban environment, and how we encourage people young and old to linger and play in the places between.”

The commission is being funded by Public Art S106 contributions from developers, which have been negotiated specifically for public art and cannot be used for anything else.

Find out more about the council’s approach to public art, Playful Anywhere and Pippa Hale