Julie Hayward and the Public Space
Katharina Blaas-Pratscher

Julie Hayward is an object artist, draughtswoman and photographer. For several years now, the subjects on which she has focused have included projects in the public space, and her artistic approaches to these have included the use of a wide range of media. This does not, however, result in autonomous sculptures: rather, each of her works is the product of an intensive study of the subject matter of the given task, the architecture involved, the actual location and its function. They also conspicuously display her preference for textual works and the sensual aspects of language, not least in the case of the design for the façade of Krenglbach Primary School, where writing predominates. Employing a poem by Ernst Jandl, “ich atme innerlich aber die nasenlöcher habe ich außen” (“I breathe inside but my nostrils are outside”), she provides the school with a guiding principle, which also becomes an integral part of the architecture. This work serves as food for thought for the primary school children, who are learning to read and write.

At the Pfeilgasse Secondary School in Vienna, Hayward uses the saying “Don’t try to be an apple if you are a banana, you will always be a second rate apple” as a way of addressing not only the school pupils, but also passers-by. The quotation really bulges out of the facade, uniting both the writing and the wall in one object.

abtauchen (“submerge”) and auftauchen (“emerge”) are the ambivalent terms with which the artist designates the entrances and exits of the pedestrian underpass in Löwengasse, on Vienna’s Danube Canal. Pedestrians are led into the passage by a large-scale illuminated sign resembling a mystical underwater landscape.

Julie Hayward won the competition for the redesign of the railway underpass in Kreuttal with a concept (unimplemented) which envisages both a simplification of the existing directional system and a signposting with sculptural character. The artist’s proposal was to optically extend the railway underpass with two differently curved concrete walls, in order to attract and engage the drivers’ attention. According to Hayward, who called the design Willkommen in Kreuttal (“Welcome to Kreuttal”), the walls were intended to be reminiscent of “arms or tongues, involving and absorbing”. The walls and tunnel, painted in day-glow paint, would thereby coalesce into a sculpture in its own right.

I’ll be you mirror, reflect what you are ..., designed for the façade of the State Grammar School in Wiener Neustadt, accentuates the relevance of the location and its surroundings: covering the façade are numerous small round mirrors which move and reflect the light and the sky.
The qualities of Julie Hayward’s work are to be found in her intelligent connection of the criteria relating to content and form, as can be seen in the fountain sculpture cyclass at the School for Agriculture in Kleßheim. Above and beyond its aesthetic significance, she here investigates the topic of “water” from both a historical and a contemporary perspective. As a work of art, cyclass symbolises the knowledge of how to cultivate nature that has been gained through our use of water.

Hayward comprehends space as a social and communicative structure that connects both the outside and the inside, the private and the public. She proceeds as a researcher, collecting facts from which she then constructs new meanings. Above all, she is interested in social interconnectedness, and in setting up precise, identity-creating, instructive, but also cheerful signs in the public space.