AirSpace Gallery

From their ancient origins as functional structures built to provide a source of clean drinking and bathing water, sanitary improvements meant that the ubiquitous public fountain developed into representations of a city's status – grand landmarks and creative symbols of authoritative or industrial power, wealth and prosperity.

For Stoke-on-Trent, historically a manufacturer and global exporter of ceramic fountains, there is a particular resonance. Connotative notions of life-source and wellspring are important for a city emerging from a difficult post-industrial stage of development, and seeking a new identity as a city of culture.

As the city prepares to install a new fountain in its central Fountain Square, FOUNT, through the work of two artists, Elena Gileva and Mark Malarko, explores the utility of public sculpture, and the role of artists in Public Policy. What can fountains be, and what can they do? What purpose can they serve to a city's residents? Where is the balance between functionality and craft? And how should a city's stakeholders, planners and decision makers approach the commissioning of Public Realm development?