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Cambridge to get playful new public art installation

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By Siobhan Middleton

A new public art installation in Cambridge will be designed to inspire child-like playfulness in people of all ages.

Cambridge City Council and arts venue Cambridge Junction have commissioned artistic organisation Playful Anywhere and artist Pippa Hale to develop the project, which will be called Play is Anywhere.

Decisions about what the piece will look like and exactly where it will be situated have not yet been made, although it will be somewhere at the boundary of Coleridge, Petersfield, Queen Edith’s and Trumpington wards, and be funded by Section 106 contributions from developers that must be spent on public art.

Playful Anywhere makes a playful space at Briggate in Leeds. Picture: Carl Milner
Playful Anywhere makes a playful space at Briggate in Leeds. Picture: Carl Milner

Playful Anywhere and Pippa said in a statement: “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.

“For us, it’s not just about making something playful, but something playable – something interactive, beautiful and joyful, which responds to the history and geography of its location.”

The final piece will be decided following informal public consultations. These will involve setting up a large container filled with creative items such as crayons and Lego bricks at Cambridge Leisure Park.

Pippa will watch how people interact with items in the ‘playbox’ and consider the conversations sparked before designing Play is Anywhere.

Matt Burman, director at Cambridge Junction, said: “This project is very important now as we need to find ways to heal as communities.

“As well as helping us to feel carefree, play can replenish our emotional energy and let us consider and tackle the things we care about – like the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and the rising cost of living.

“Like all other adults, I could do with being better at playing. My running can be very playful, though, and I always have more fun when I stop thinking about what I look like running.

“When we become alleged ‘grown-ups’, we become less playful and take fewer creative risks in an attempt not to look silly – but this artwork will provide a safe space in which to play.”

Cllr Anna Smith (Labour, Coleridge) said: ‘I am really looking forward to seeing – and joining in with – the results of this exciting artistic collaboration.

“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 is a Leeds-based social enterprise that produces events, programmes, activities and pieces of art designed to inspire creativity and playfulness.

Last year, they set up ‘playboxes’ containing items including toys, games, hula hoops and table tennis equipment in Briggate, Leeds.

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