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  • In Certain Places

    In Certain Places

In Certain Places

The research project In Certain Places is a programme of artistic and architectural interventions and events, delivered by Professor Charles Quick and curator Elaine Speight in the School of Art, Design and Performance. Based in the City of Preston, the project examines how artists can contribute to the form and functions of a place, by exploring new approaches to art, culture and urban development.

Since 2003, In Certain Places has worked with artists and architects to develop temporary interventions in Preston City Centre, hosted artists’ residencies, and organised high-profile talks and debates about art practice and place. Collectively, these activities have generated new understandings of the urban environment, enabled new ideas to be tested in the city’s public spaces, and formed collaborations between artists, institutions, communities, businesses and other individuals in Preston and beyond.

These activities have been contextualised by Charles Quick and Elaine Speight within publications and academic papers, which critically examine the political and cultural issues surrounding contemporary public art.

The project is financially supported by the University of Central Lancashire and the Arts Council of England through their Grants for the Arts scheme.

Expertise and Subject Areas

  • 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.
  • Critical understanding of contemporary public art and its relationship with urban development.


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

  • Goukassian, E. (2012). In Certain Places. Sculpture. 31 (9).
  • Lord, C. (2011). Shezad Dawood’s latest work proves a piercing vision. The National, United Arab Emirates, 27th July 2011.
  • Speed, E. (2010). Place Beyond Place. a-n Magazine, April 2010. 
  • Dickenson, B. (2008). Preston: In Certain Places. Art and Architecture Journal. 66/67. 
  • Holledge, R. (2007). The mystery of the market place. The Daily Telegraph, 12th April 2007.
  • Stukoff, M. (2007). The National Public Art Conference, Liverpool, England. Public Art Review USA, spring/summer, 2007.
  • Banks, I. (2005). Urban Regeneration. Art and Architecture Journal, December 2005.


In Certain Places has been featured in the following reports: 

  • Dawson, J. and Gilmore, A. (2009). Shared Interest: Developing collaboration and partnerships and research relationships between higher education museums, galleries and visual arts organisations in the North West. A Joint Consultancy Research Project commissioned by, Renaissance North West, Arts Council England North West and the North West Universities Association.

Publications and Outputs

  • Quick, C., Speight, E. & van Noord, G., eds (2014). Subplots to a City: ten years of In Certain Places. Preston: In Certain Places.
  • Quick, C., Speight, E. (2012). ‘In Certain Places’. In van Noord. G., ed. Piercing 
  • Brightness, Shezad Dawood. London: Modern Art Oxford, Koenig Books, pp. 17-21.
  • Speight, E. (2009) ‘Foreword’. In Newling, J.., ed. The Preston Market Mystery Project. Preston: Harris Museum & Art Gallery, pp.7-8.

Documentation of other project outcomes, including videos of all the talks and debates, are available at

Events and News

Visit for the latest news and events.

Courses and Postgraduate Study


Charles Quick is a Professor of Public Art Practice who has over 35 years’ experience in the field as a practitioner and a curator. As an artist/researcher he has contributed permanent and temporary works for cities across the United Kingdom including a number of large-scale commissions on the Northeast coast of England the most notable being Flash@Hebburn. The Art and Architecture Journal Press have subsequently published a book, which examines the project, ‘Flash@Hebburn Urban Art in the New Century. He has won awards from Arts Council England, the British Council, and HEFCE. In 2003 he co-founded the curatorial research project ‘In Certain Places’.

Elaine Speight is a research associate at the University of Central Lancashire, where she curates the In Certain Places project. Her research interests include the capacity of art to interrogate, mediate and critique the connections between people and place, and the relationship between art practice and research. As a curator, artist and educator, Elaine has worked for organisations including Liverpool Biennial, Up Projects and Creative Partnerships. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University, an MA in Fine Art Site and Place from UCLan, and an MPhil in Arts Management from Birkbeck, University of London.


Social Media

Twitter: @incertainplaces

Additional Information

Please visit for more information about the project.

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