Alan Lovell of Bannister Hall Landscape Supplies sent some great production images of the 7m diameter PietraPave granite mosaic I created, during its recent construction in China. The work has been manufactured and is now on its way to the UK for installation at The Flower Bowl, Barton Grange nr Preston.
By the way, I chose the worst day of the week to make a site visit to Barton Grange in Lancashire to check on progress – rained all day – the one poor day out of a glorious week of fine weather. Images not as good as they could be.
Notwithstanding that, the progress by Aztec Industrial Roofing Ltd has been brilliant and the main contractors, Truman Design and Build are now focussing on the interiors which are a hive of activity.
Externally, the rainscreen boards are almost all in place – with many exhibiting various stages of weathering, which starts with the exposed routed board being a bright yellow tone and gradually darkening to a rich tan / copper colour.
The Cutting Room in Huntingdon have now almost completed cutting the last of the boards and these will be shipped to site during the next week or so.
Some brilliant new images of my project for the new Macmillan Unit at Tameside & Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust have come to light. It is always refreshing to see how others see your work & the space it was created for. In this instance I was very kindly given permission by Mike Hearle, European Digital Marketing Manager for Construction Specialties – to use images from their website. Construction Specialities supplied and installed the solid timber handrails running through the unit. Take a look …the artwork was digitally printed and installed by VGL. The project was delivered by IBI Group Architects and Willis Newson, the UK’s leading arts and health consultancy.
The last 2 elevations are now in progress, having signed off the artwork for the Elevations 7 & 8, the Sub-Station Building and Rovero End. My work is now pretty much done here. Going to site to see it installed is now a priority.
The last pieces of production artwork have now been signed off. Most of the front elevation of the building has now been installed. Weirdly I’ve not yet been up to see it. Been pretty busy here in Ramsgate.
A good thing is that Guy Topping commissioned a further piece of work from me – a 7m diameter granite mosaic of a large flower for the main entrance threshold. The manufacturing work was commissioned from Bannister Hall Landscape Supplies and will be manufactured in China.
RESEARCH – REGENERATION – RECLAMATION – RECYCLE – REMINISCENCE – REVEAL – REPLACE – RESONATE
The Rochester Riverside development aims to deliver 489 homes in Phases 1, 2 & 3. The first show homes are scheduled to be ready by September 2018. I have been researching and developing ideas to embed some of the social & industrial legacy from this site into the new build homes and apartments & not forgetting a new community which is being delivered. The site has a treasure trove of layered history to uncover fed by its unique position between Rochester and River Medway.
Intertidal Salt Marsh
St Nicholas Parish Rochester
Clay & Mud
Ship & Barge Building
Railway Goods Yard
Scrap Metal Merchants
By 2006 almost all the site had been cleared for re-development.
I have to find a way to be creative with the public art budget and to produce high quality, robust interventions, capable of withstanding the wear and tear of a contemporary urban space. My approach to this project has been to work with a series of 2.4m high brick walls, which form the entrances to parking courts on the Central Streets of Phase 1 & 2. I am also embedding work into the threshold entrances of six apartment blocks and numerous private houses throughout the site. Materials being investigated at this stage include granite, cast concrete, cast iron, architectural ceramic & brick. The concept drawings shown below are all subject to change, revision, omission – all the usual ups and downs of project development.
These early concept drawings explore the various combinations of narrative elements which could be developed further. They are rather overstuffed with ideas at this stage – far too many to deliver – but are beginning to explore the legacy of the site via stories created by combining strands of research. Visiting menageries share space with Iron Foundry production and mud and clay trades carried out on the site. The elephant would be sandblasted into the brick surface, whilst adjacent panels of cast iron with relief detail and glazed brick units and polished granite are embedded into the brick structure.
Cast Iron proposals are being developed in collaboration with Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax.
The proposals for granite paving units with inset granite text are being explored in collaboration with Hardscape.
Architectural Ceramic proposals are being developed in collaboration with Darwen Terracotta & Faience
You may have seen some of our work embedded into the streetscape along Railway Street. Large scale granite kerbs contain words sandblasted or inlaid into the surface. You may wonder what these words mean, or how they relate to you. Here is a short explanation of how they came about.
We often talk about words having weight – of text being ‘set in stone’… or ’engraved in stone’…suggesting gravitas, importance, longevity, …we all like a funny ‘one liner’…colloquial, local…distinct Chatham voices…
Well, here in Chatham your words really are being set in stone…for all to read…for years to come –
You may know that the aim of this public realm project was to upgrade the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. This includes pedestrian and cycle routes as well as crossing points, upgrading paving materials, improving steps and ramps, opening up the public realm and streamlining access and pedestrian permeability. This work was driven by Francis Knight, Public Art Consultants & our project collaborators and consultants to Medway Council, LDA Design and Project Centre.
We have worked within these parameters, using the language of public realm and materials, which are robust and stand the test of time. We have created a quiet ‘narrative’ thread – a story about Chatham – & more specifically about events and places along this route.
We wanted the streets to speak quietly, confidently & with good humour about Chatham…WHAT MAKES A TOWN ?…THESE ARE OUR STREETS…part memorial, part living voice…but mostly a celebration of the rich heritage and community of Chatham.
As an artist and designer of public spaces, this project has been an opportunity to influence our surroundings in a way that ‘speaks’ of Chatham and its people. We mostly take our pavements for granted, but these spaces have often developed from historic pathways and tracks linking communities and towns across the wider region. They have a resonance and a ‘voice’, …and echo with history.
The route from the Station to the Waterfront takes us down Railways Street & Military Road – in doing so we pass several key places, such as New Cut ( a former farmyard), St John’s ( a Grade II Listed Waterloo Church) – Military Square, considered the Heart of the Town. At these important sites, we have made interventions to articulate the granite kerb in ways which are expressive and of interest, whilst still maintaining functionality.
We were keen to hear and to record everyday voices …words spoken by ordinary people – such as ‘the girl who cried when she lost her phone and then cried again when she found it’... ‘the lovey barmaid’ …or ‘Colin, the man who carried coal for charity’…these are the voices of people on the street, passers by, people shopping & passing the time of day. We engaged with people directly in conversation, we overheard the conversations of others, we wrote down and recorded stories and anecdotes we were told.
I was very fortunate to collaborate with other artists on this project. Filmmaker Simon Williams succinctly and with an understated eye for visual language and movement, cleverly framed our project parameters and vision in a series of short films, whilst printmaker Xtina Lamb rendered our architectural vision into graphic patterns & motifs used throughout the scheme. Both artists also live in Chatham, bringing their individual & unique perspectives to play. However, it was the award winning writer Rob Young, who contributed significantly to the embedded text. An astute, profound and funny wordsmith with an ability to engage anyone and everyone, turning their words into poetry along the way.
“The knitter. Whose name is Pearl.
The woman. Who uses the word ‘like?’ As like, punctuation?
The woman. Who said sorry. When you’re the one who pushed in.
The woman. Who draws breath. Then monologues. For an hour.
The waiter. Who had a fling. With a Bride. At her wedding.
The girl. Who cried. All day. When she lost her phone. Then cried again. When she found it.
The boy. Whose Mum. Made him take back the sweets. That he stole.
The man. Who says, I’m mad, me. Who isn’t mad, at all. Just lonely”. Rob Young 2016
Justin Coe, a poet and writer also contributed, animatedly performing his work directly to camera, whilst walking the route in a film by Simon Williams.
“On his way to his first day of school on Rome Lane
(The name of this road – before the trains came)
And while we’re walking with Dickens – observe the new Church
They’ve called it St Johns. And it will soon be the first
Public building in Chatham lit by electricity!…
Though all the lights went out here by the end of last century…” Justin Coe 2016
Local school children & people working in local businesses were asked for their comments. We listened to them & heard their stories. We listened to the sound of their lives. There is an overwhelming sense of common ownership in this project. These words are not ours. They belong to Chatham.
We referenced times past by collaborating with MALSC (Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre) and other local agencies in searching for site specific text, such as the words of famous visitors & local Luminaries such as Charles Dickens, reminiscing about ‘soldiers marching through the town in regimented rows …’
The oversized granite kerbs we have used here become a metaphor for the continuity of the local community – kerbs being critical in holding roads and pavements in place – they are physically important in maintaining the fabric of our environment –they could almost be described as ‘defensive structures’ maintaining the integrity and safety of our public spaces …reminiscent of the Chatham Lines – the historic defensive structures, forts and earthworks, which offered protection to the people of Medway & especially the Chatham Dockyard …
The granite kerb acts as a threshold between various states …of the pedestrian…and the driver, or moving fast or slow – perceptions of safety & danger…often the original granite kerb is often the only thing left in place when pavements and roads have been re-placed or modernised throughout recent history…the kerb maintains the parameters of how public spaces were managed and maintained. These lines of granite are also ‘our other Chatham Lines…’
More of the kerbstone lies buried beneath the surface than on top of it… and so it is also a rather poignant link between the past and the present…where times and events past lie buried beneath out feet –
Our work in Chatham set out to find and hear voices and words which quietly & evocatively create a sense of place associated with each of our stopping points on the route from the Station to the Paddock… the power of these voices is amplified by the weight and mass of the monolithic granite.
Left in place, these words will still be here in a hundred years from now…
I have been incredibly lucky to collaborate once again with Mark Durey at The Cutting Room in Huntingdon. I worked with Mark on the cnc cut facade for the new Heart of the Campus Building at Sheffield Hallam University Collegiate Campus. I am indebted to him for bringing these projects to life in way I could not deliver on my own. My colleague Sarah Alldritt also deserves a big thanks for her work translating my original artwork into ai vectors. Mark imports these digital files and re-builds the artwork through an Alphacam CAD CAM software programme to create the work. That may seem a straightforward digital process created by clever software …let me tell you that it is not. The translation from my artwork to end product is anything but straightforward in this instance. Mark is the key here. He has a clear understanding of how the programmes work – but – more importantly he is prepared to go ‘off-road’ and put his experience to task, problem solving and bringing an entirely bespoke service into play to produce the outcomes you see. I am lucky to have him as a collaborator.
Mark has an individual methodology at play whilst creating the cutting files. He adds colour to enable him to plan the work and – indirectly, I find these images inspiring and creative in themselves. Probably annoyingly I am always asking for screenshots of particular details.
The latest image by the client Guy Topping – the left hand elevation for The Flower Bowl Main Entrance – but how did we get to this point?
The last decade has seen Margate’s cultural landscape flourish with the dual success of Turner Contemporary and a resurgent Dreamland to book-end the seafront panorama. Successful regeneration by Thanet Council has also brought significant and tangible changes to the Old Town. One of the most significant outcomes delivered by the Council without fanfare or drama however, has been the Margate Flood & Coastal Protection Scheme – also known more fondly as Margate Steps. A scheme funded by the Environment Agency to the tune of £6million pounds and brought in on time and under budget …and somewhat under the radar. This example of coastal civil engineering encompassed not only the Steps, but the Harbour Arm and Sea Wall along Marine Drive. This elegant and functional concrete stepped revetment structure has also brought a much needed and highly activated public realm and pedestrian space to the Town.
Throughout its history, a major catalyst for change and development in Margate had been the destructive force of storms and storm surges. These pages are taken from the Contextual Research Document, which I delivered in collaboration with the project team.
I was commissioned as project artist on the scheme by Thanet District Council & the Environment Agency in December 2010. My role was to uncover and present interpretive & contextual information & develop concepts with which to influence the design process & inform the structure & detailing of this major sea defence works. The work has now been completed and the project officially opened in May 2013.
Client: TDC & Margate Renewal Partnership. Engineers: East Kent Engineering Practice. Landscape Architects and Urban Designers: Jacobs. Contractor: Breheney. Specialist Concrete Pre Cast: CCP Cornish Concrete Products.
Being part of an integrated design team from an early point was critical in enabling the contextual work, via a contribution to the detailed DESIGN & ACCESS STATEMENT , to influence the physical form of the structure, within its constraints as a sea defence work.
The public realm and amenity space which the project afforded Margate’s sea front has been a tremendous addition to an enlivened and highly activated sea front promenade which has Turner Contemporary and the Harbour Arm at one end & Margate Station & Dreamland at the other.
I haven’t updated this post for some time – actually since April 2017! Head down and just getting on with it …time flies. OK – I’ll now try to sum up what’s happened in the interim.
Following on from the initial research period, consultation & creative engagement phases of the project, a series of Creative Public Realm proposals were submitted for review. This work originated and was inspired by the positive & creative collaboration with our supporting artists in residence, Rob Young – Writer, Simon Williams – Filmmaker and Xtina Lamb – Printmaker. These collaborations proved to be highly creative as well as bringing a refreshing camaraderie and friendship to the work.
The proposals are presented here in the order in which the various sites are encountered along the route from Chatham Station down Railway Street to Military Road and the Waterfront. This is a visual account of how ideas developed and adopted into the scheme.
Chatham Station, although at the head of our scheme, will be the last Phase to be delivered on the ground & I will report on this work later in a separate post.
The sites where our work and interventions has been focussed are:
NEW CUT & NEW ROAD VIADUCT
ST JOHN’S SQUARE
LOWER RAILWAY STREET
The Red Line indicates our project route & is titled the ‘Chatham Line’, after the Chatham Lines, the nearby defensive fortifications. The lines follow the historic granite kerb line & will be replaced in relevant sections by bespoke wide
granite kerbs and special transition granite units often with sandblasted or inset granite text. Text is based upon the surrounding local historic legacy & community engagement work & narrative developed by our writer in residence, Rob Young.
AREA 2 – NEW CUT
As with most projects, not all ideas and proposals succeed.Budget limitations, critical rigour and often the subjective nature of the collaborative creative process all bring issues to bear in deciding what is destined to be built on site and what is left in the studio !
The approach to the materiality and scale of St John’s Square & elsewhere along our route, was influenced by the architectural & industrial heritage of the Historic Chatham Dockyard.
This monolithic detail seen above was titled ‘The Submarine’, inspired by HMS OCELOT on display at Chatham Historic Dockyard . This sculptural form was to act as a dividing feature separating two flights of steps at different levels.
I didn’t make it through the final evaluation process…
LOWER RAILWAY STREET & MILITARY SQUARE
Military Square is a major pedestrian intersection in Chatham, at the crossroads between Railway Street, Military Road and the High Street.
THE CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE