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In Certain Places

This is a curational partnership and research project, working with artists to question, test, disrupt and shape the places in the city of Preston. We investigate ways in which artists generate new understandings of places and instigate change.

As curators, we see our role as that of brokering connections between people and places. As well as artists, we also work closely with other individuals, institutions and communities in Preston and beyond throughout our research process. Our projects span a range of art forms and include temporary public art works, architectural commissions, artist residencies, public talks, discussions, events and publications. Whilst locally specific, these activities connect with wider issues of art practice and place. Our work has been presented in venues such as Modern Art Oxford; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture, Hong Kong; and the Venice Biennial of Architecture; and we endeavour to share the methods, challenges and outcomes of our practice through writing and presentations.

In Certain Places currently receives funding from the Arts Council of England, the University of Central Lancashire, Preston City Council and City Deal. Previous work has been funded by Lancashire County Council, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Community Media Association, the Granada Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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  • The development of artist-led methodologies for the commissioning of temporary public art.
  • Programming talks, symposia and conferences, which contribute to and initiate critical debates about art, architecture and place.
  • Partnership-working with multiple agencies to realise temporary public artworks.
  • Mentoring early and mid-career artists.
  • Building and maintaining relationships with urban stakeholders and gatekeepers, including city councils, local businesses and communities, in order to collectively inform the development of a place.
  • Developing new approaches to public art and urban planning, which are predicated upon the participation and collaboration of diverse individuals and groups.
  • Promoting critical understandings of contemporary public art and its relationship with urban development.
  • The production of publications which examine the relationship between artists and place.

The work of In Certain Places has been featured in the following:

Jaspan, S (2020). Book review: Practising Place. In Cultural Geographies, 3 March 2020.

Banks, I (2019). ‘Preston Bus Station: Whte Whale ’. In Urban Realm, April 2019, pp.90-95. 

Buxton, P (2019). ‘Preston Bus Station celebrates 50 years of beautiful brutalism’. In RIBA Journal, 11 October 2019.

Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, (2019). ‘People’s Canopy.’ In Mini Maousse, building a virtual schola. Paris: Cité de l’Architecture.

Horton, D (2019). ‘Beautiful and Brutal: 50 years in the life of Preston Bus Station’. In Corridor8, 28 November 2019.

Jaspan, S (2019). ‘The democratic art of conversation-based writing: Practising Place Book Review’ The Double Negative, 19 March 2019.

Tomson, S (2019). ‘Preston North Beginning’. In Electronic Sound, 2019, Issue 57, pp.62-67.

Azure (2017) Azure Magazine, 23 June 2017, 2017 AZ Awards Winner: Temporary & Demonstration Architecture Article Details

Courage, C (2017). London: Routledge, (citations pp.34, 117) Arts in Place: The Arts, the Urban and Social Practice.

Social Structures: Community-minded, small-scale, sustainable: designing for China’s ‘new normal

Mobitecture: Architecture on the MovePeople’s Canopy

CVAN conversation: We need to talk about the value of ALL artists

Scrutiny Of The Edgeland: Introducing the Expanded City

Art in certain places: working with artists and the public in Preston

Art in Everyday Life


In Certain Places has been featured in the following:

Quick C (2018) Test Bed. A report that captured and analysed some of the main aspects of the Test Bed project to inform future management and curation of the new square. Commissioned by Capital Projects, University of Central Lancashire

Regeneris Consulting, The Socio-economic Contribution of the University of Central Lancashire in Lancashire and the North West A Final Report, August 2015, pp. x,49-51.

Quick C. (2015) A New Square for the University of Central Lancashire. A response to the Masterplan report. The report correlates and structures the feedback received from five consultation workshops. Commissioned by Masterplan Team University of Central Lancashire Capital Projects.

Southern, J and Thulin, S (2020). ‘Composing Fragmented Relations with Materials, Locations and Archives’. In Oxford Handbook of Sound Art Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Speight, E and Quick, C (2020). ‘Fragile Possibilities: The Role of the Artist’s Book in Public Art’. In Arts — Open Access Journal 2020, 9, 32.

Speight, E (2020). ‘Working the Land: Landscape, Art and the Everton Meadows.’ In Chesney, R. Rebecca Chesney: Searching the Shadows. Preston: In Certain Places, pp. 24-5.

Scanlan, J (2019). West Cumbria: On the Edge. Preston: In Certain Places.

Speight, E (ed.) (2019). Practising Place: Creative and Critical Reflections on Place. Sunderland: Art Editions North.

Quick, C (2017). 'Connecting a City' In Arts Professional. 3 June 2017.

Speight E, Sumner A and Zebracki, M (2017). ‘(Re)Making Public Campus Art: Connecting the University, Publics and the City’. In Public Art Dialogue, 7:1, pp. 6-43.

Southern, J and and Thulin, S (2016). Homing. Preston: In Certain Places.

Speight, E (2016). 'Balancing Act: curating the public art residency' In Engage 37: Time and Place: Hosting and commissioning artists, Spring 2016, pp. 59-64.

Velvick, L (2016). . Preston: In Certain Places.The Expanded City 2015- 16

Speight, E (2015). ‘Listening in Certain Places: Public Art for the Post-Regenerate Age’. In Cartiere C and Zebracki M, eds. The Everyday Practice of Public Art: Art, Space, and Social Inclusion. London: Routledge, pp. 177-19

Quick C, Speight E and van Noord G (eds.) (2014) Subplots to a City: Ten Years of In Certain Places Preston:  In Certain Places.

Beautiful and Brutal – 50 years in the life of Preston Bus Station 2019

Three public commissions, associated events and an exhibition at the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Preston Bus Station and its recent restoration.

Artists: LOW PROFILE, Keith Harrison, Preston Field Audio , Anna Raczynski

Project Partners: Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, Preston Bus Station, Lancashire County Council, University of Central Lancashire, Building Design Partnership, Ove Arup, Laing Construction, Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust, Preston Bus, Stagecoach


  • Anna Raczynski - 22 video portraits of people connected to and speaking about Preston Bus Station.
  • Keith Harrison, Preston Feild Audio – Conductor, a choreographed piece for 32 double decker buses at Preston Bus station.
  • LOW PROFILE - PEOPLE a large scale temporary text piece on the former forecourt of Preston Bus Station.
  • Charles Quick and James Arnold co-curated the exhibition which featured across the whole of the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.
  • The project included artist talks, a conference, guided tours of the exhibition and Preston Bus Station.

The Expanded City since 2016

A three-stage programme of art-led research into creative approaches to social, cultural and environmental infrastructure. The Expanded City was commissioned by Preston City Council (PCC) and designed to inform a series of planned infrastructure projects on the outskirts of Preston as part of the government’s City Deal scheme.


Gavin Renshaw (cycling infrastructure); Lauren Velvick (the politics of housing); Ruth Levene and Ian Nesbitt (the changing landscape); Emily Speed (alternative approaches to play spaces); Olivia Keith (preserving memories of rural development sites); and The Decorators (mapping the changing use of buildings).

Project Partners:

City Deal, PCC planning department, Story Homes Ltd, Harris Museum, Matt Macdonald transport consultants, Preston Transport Plan.


A cycling resource map, 5 public talks/tours, 3 public symposia, 3 publications, a site-specific exhibition, 2 participatory artworks, 6 online essays.

Practising Place since 2013

A curatorial project which developed long-term partnerships and interdisciplinary collaborations between 11 artists and 10 academics from the social sciences and humanities, sharing research interests in aspects of place.


Joanne Lee (SHU), David Jacques, Rebecca Chesney, Amelia Crouch, Ian Nesbitt, Ruth Levene, Magda Stawarska-Beavan (UCLan), Emily Speed, William Titley (UCLan), Jenny Steele, Victoria Lucas (UCLan).


Paul Wilson (Leeds), Les Roberts (Liverpool), Rosemary Shirley (MMU), David Cooper (MMU), Bob Johnston (Sheffield), James G Mansell (Nottingham), Duncan Light (Brighton), Steve Millington (MMU), David Jarratt (UCLan), Emma Fraser (Manchester).

Project Partners:

Bluecoat Arts Centre (Liverpool), Nottingham Contemporary, Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester), Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle), Storey Institute (Lancaster), Sheffield Hallam University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Liverpool Hope University, Sunderland University.


10 public in-conversation events hosted at both art and academic venues across the North and Midlands; 10 essays published on The Double Negative art and culture website; a book published by Art Editions North; a public symposium at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester.

Homing 2016

Locative media soundpiece, created for the Roll of Honour at the Harris Museum.


Jen Southern and Sam Thulin.

Project Partners:

UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio, Preston Remembers (Heritage Lottery), Harris Museum, Lancashire Infantry Museum, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Centre for Mobilities Research at the University of Lancaster.


Site-specific artwork, Smartphone app, public symposium, publication.

The People’s Canopy 2015

A mobile architectural commission, designed to transform underused spaces.


James Shen (People’s Architecture Office, Beijing).

Project Partners:

PCC, Preston Cultural Framework Board.


A two-storey high expandable architectural structure on bicycle wheels, cycled from UCLan to Preston’s Market Square by 50 university staff and students, to provide the infrastructure for the inaugural Lancashire Encounter Festival. Subsequently shown at Beijing Culture and Art Centre; the bi-city Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture, Hong Kong; Shekou Design Museum, China; 14th Venice Architecture Bienniale; Utopia Festival, Leuven, Belgium.

Stephanie Cottle - The role and significance of artist-led exploration in contribution to the form and function of a place.

Supervision of art practice research students:

Contribution to the MA in Fine Art

Charles Quick is a Professor of Public Art Practice at the University of Central Lancashire with over 40 years’ experience as a teacher, artist/researcher and curator in the public realm. He has contributed permanent and temporary arts projects to cities across the United Kingdom. In 2003 he co-founded ’In Certain Places’ and has since worked with regional, national and international artists to develop works for Preston, revealing, critiquing and provoking new understandings of a place and its peoples.

Quick was co-editor and contributor to ‘Subplots to a City’ a publication which marked the first ten years of In Certain Places work in Preston. The Henry Moore Institute and Leeds City Art Gallery hold this work in their collections and he has recorded his artistic life through the British Library sound archive, Artist’s Lives project. The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Art and Architecture Journal, Arts Professional, A-N Magazine and the Sculpture Magazine, amongst others, have written about his projects. Over the years, he has won awards from Arts Council England, the British Council, and Higher Education Funding Council England. Recently he became the Chair of the Arts and Place national consortium. Charles also sits on the board of a number of arts organisations in the North West.

Elaine Speight is Reader in Curatorial Practice and Place at the University of Central Lancashire and has co-curated In Certain Places since 2005. Her curatorial interests surround the capacity of art to interrogate, mediate and critique the connections between people and place, and the relationship between art practice and research. Elaine has written about place-based art and curatorial practice for publications such as (2020), (2017) and (2015, Routledge), and edited the book (2019, Art Editions North). She is a trustee of the arts organisation Art Gene and a chair of the North West branch of the national Contemporary Visual Arts Network. Arts — Open Access Journal Public Art Dialogue The Everyday Practice of Public Art Practising Place: Creative and Critical Reflections on Place.

Board member Charles Quick:

  • Preston Cultural Framework Board
  • Eden Arts Board
  • Art and Place Consortium (Chair)

Board Member Elaine Speight:

  • Art Gene (Trustee)
  • Contemporary Visual Arts Network, North West (Regional Chair)

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