Ipswich: The �200,000 question - is Waterfront public art installation money well spent or a frivolous waste of cash?

IPSWICH: It’s the �200,000 question – is this controversial piece of public art, destined for the Waterfront, money well spent or a frivolous waste of cash?

University Campus Suffolk (UCS) commissioned internationally-acclaimed artists Langlands and Bell to create the ‘Question?’, which will link the university’s northern and southern sites.

The artwork will see a large question mark sculpture, made of black and white granite and steel, installed on the plaza outside the Waterfront building as one part of the project.

But the question mark – and its cost – have prompted questions itself, particularly given UCS’s decision to hike tuition fees next year.

Ipswich Borough Councillor Liz Harsant claimed the cash would have been better invested elsewhere, especially in the current economic climate.

She said: “It’s a lovely project but should that sort of money have been spent on it?

“I think there are better things to spend the money on.”

Most Read

The project has been jointly funded by UCS, a �75,000 grant from Art Council England’s Grants for the Arts, and around �25,000 from Ipswich Borough Council, which a spokesman told The Evening Star was from Section 106 developer contributions and not taxpayers’ money.

The expenditure comes despite UCS announcing in June that it would be upping its tuition fees to �8,000 a year for Bachelor degrees and �7,500 for Foundation degrees – an increase of more than �4,500 on the current �3,375 cost.

Defending the artwork, Chrissie Harrington, head of the School of Arts and Humanities at UCS, said: “During the first year of UCS, I was tasked with the role of finding contributions to funding and support from our partners to create a significant piece of public art.

“The artwork is a result of a condition of planning permission for the Waterfront buildings being granted so in every aspect we were duty-bound to commission this piece as otherwise the building may not have been built.

“We have striven to find the very best piece of work suitable for the town and for the region.”

She said a steering group, consisting of artists, architects, residents and students, had been involved in the project to ensure it was approved of by Ipswich.

Ms Harrington added: “We are all very excited as it is an example of very aspirational work and shows our commitment to being a flagship for high quality provision as well as enhance the Waterfront making it an exciting place to live, work and study.”

The sculpture is one part of a two-piece project intended to provide a “visual, topographical and experiential” connection between the two UCS sites.

The other part is a light sculpture mounted at the top of the chimney near the arts block. The work will be unveiled to the public on November 24.

n What do you think of the artwork? Do you think it is money well spent? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk