Creative Conversations with Alex Murdin

6 Jan

Welcome to episode nine of creative conversations. This week I’m visiting Alex Murdin, Creative Places Development Manager for Dorset Design and Heritage Forum, at Council Chamber in West Dorset District Council. This is a part time position, where he works in a freelance capacity.

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Right click (or Ctrl click on a Mac) on this link (Creative Conversations #09) to download (Save Link As). Or subscribe to our podcast, or subscribe via iTunes.

We start off by hearing about his role within the council, working with many stakeholders to benefit local people, funded by the arts council. Engaging people with place: art, design & local distinctiveness for housing. Alec tells us about this exciting position, where he gets to ask stimulating questions like:

–        What does Localism mean for the quality of our environment and enhancement of our public spaces?

–        How do we continue to be creative in making places in the light of a major re-orientation of public policy and finances?

–        Is there still a role for art and design which addresses key social issues such as housing, transport and other community needs or should the focus return to economics, branding and “iconic” art?

Out of the four projects that have been commissioned Alex outlines two projects. One is ‘Rural Roads Protocol’ with artist: Michael Pinsky. This aims to enhance the visual appearance of rural roads for the benefit of local communities and visitors by reducing signage and encouraging more sustainable, safer transport modes. The second working with artists: London Fieldworks (Jo Joelson and Bruce Gilchrist) to help design a new open space as part of a housing development on the edge of a Dorset village.

What they are trying to achieve is art projects that have a tangible contribution to the place in aesthetic terms but also engaging people socially. So these projects should make some difference to the lives of people living in these places in a positive way.

Alec likes “the rural becoming more radical in last five years.” How can you change spaces around you for the better? To explore not only the heritage in the today and the past but also a heritage for the future. How the introduction of an artist within that process that can change the status quo in a positive way is a fascinating area of exploration.

Afraid this position is now coming to an end, but they are working to find further funds to continue this type of work.

Along with Alec working within this role he also operates as an artist himself. He is very interested in low cost DIY interventions. Building culture into all areas of life.

He tells us about a project in development he has been working on over the last year or two with Turn Lyme Green, a grassroots environmental group from Lyme Regis, who aim to engage both residents and visitors to Lyme in thinking about environmental issues and sustainable living. They have already run a successful campaign in Lyme on reducing pollution from plastic bags and are now campaigning on reducing food waste. Turn Lyme Green won the Pride of Place awards, run by the Dorset Design and Heritage Forum. Alec has been looking at the seaside towns light and proposed a LED lighting that would reflect new births, deaths and weddings. A light that can be programmable, so that the community can dictate what the changing lights could show.

We talk over the difficult question of what effect the Cultural Olympiad might have on the region. Alec says it is impossible to predict, you never quite know what effect they will have. But based on his experience art projects, which for the most part has been a really positive experience. Alec was involved with the group that chooses South West’s major Cultural Olympiad project the Nowhereisland.

Nowhereisland is the Artists Taking the Lead project for south west England, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and is led by artist Alex Hartley. Nowhereisland will consist of a large-scale island sculpture which will journey around the south west coast of England during summer 2012, visiting eight ports and harbours.

Alex feels this project could have a major effect on the area. Opening up dialog about the benefit of art and culture to our lives.

We then wrap up our conversation, briefly talking about what will be left after the Olympics has left town and the last sweet wrapper is swept off the streets of Weymouth.

To find out more about Alex Murdin you can check out the site he contributes to at;

Or to find out more about Dorset Design and Heritage Forum


One Response to “Creative Conversations with Alex Murdin”


  1. creative conversations episodes « creative conversations - May 9, 2012

    […] I visit Alex Murdin, Creative Places Development Manager for Dorset Design and Heritage Forum, at Council Chamber in West Dorset District Council. Alec tells us about this exciting position, Engaging people with place: art, design & local distinctiveness for housing. […]

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