Shoppers returning to Dundee city centre as lockdown measures ease will notice a number of improvements on their first visit and in the coming weeks.
New street furniture including bespoke poster towers and benches and planters, fresh floor coverings, wall tiles and lighting, will be complemented by advanced plans for further public art and pedestrian and public transport priority measures.
Mark Flynn convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee said: “While much of our focus over the past year has rightly been on dealing with the implications of the pandemic, we have also been able to make some positive changes to the look and feel of the city centre.
“New seating, planters, public art poster towers, pedestrianised areas, outdoor eating and drinking spaces, changed priorities for some types of traffic and even plans for more public art are all changing the face of our main shopping and entertainment streets.”
City Square has been improved with the installation of 20 new benches and rearranged planters, while the access from Castle Street has been refurbished with new stone flooring, wall tiles, signs and lighting. Signage has also been applied to the Crichton Street stairway access. New bespoke seating with planters has also been installed in Reform Street.
In addition, four poster towers have been installed at the Railway Station Plaza, Dock Street, Panmure Street and Nethergate. These are for local use to publicise cultural events, venues, gigs, public notices and health messages. Similarly, digital screens will be installed in the coming weeks at the McManus Galleries and Caird Hall to promote their future events.
A public art project: “Lost and Found” has recently been completed in the heart of the city. Artist Jeremy Cunningham has produced a series of small sculptures based on ordinary items and the alphabet, to be found in the City Centre’s main streets. Each item is accompanied by a letter and as the fun is in finding them, no trail map is being produced.
The artist is also responsible for several other works in the city, including the Submarine Memorial in the docks and “Stitch in Time” on Marine Parade at City Quay.
Plans are well advanced for the next significant public art installation in the High Street, where a polar bear, Bruin, will be chasing a man with a roll of material up an iceberg plinth onto its overhanging edge.
The statue commemorates the 1881 escape and subsequent safe recapture of a polar bear, one of two brought from Davis’ Straits by a local whaling ship and bought for exhibition in Commercial Street by a Mr Woods.
According to contemporary reports the escapee was one of two housed in a wooden box with an iron grating which slipped off the barrow transporting them and broke open. After scaring off on lookers and barging into a High Street clothes shop the bear was tempted out by a piece of beef and safely recaptured.
The iceberg element refers to the precarious future faced by polar bears while the figure is Mr Jamieson, the haberdashery shop owner.
Sculptor David Annand created the work to be cast in bronze. The Dear Leap at the Tech Park and ‘Cats Poem Disturbed’ at Broughty Ferry Library are also his work.
Dundee draws skilled workers from a 60-minute catchment population of 640,000 and has a local population of over 140,000. The availability of a large pool of highly skilled labour is a key feature in the Dundee economy. Flexibility in the labour force is currently more prevalent in Dundee than in Scotland as a whole. All forms of labour market flexibility - part-time, temporary employment, self-employment and shift work - are widely operational within the city. Labour force stability in the city is excellent, enabling companies to plan with confidence. Labour turnover levels are less than 5% and absenteeism averages 2%.