The image above is a detail of the beautifully carved ebony black polished stone 12th Century font, with its depiction of the miracles of St Nicholas. It is without doubt one of the Cathedral’s greatest treasures. It was brought from Tournai, in modern day Belgium. It has been in use ever since. It is astonishingly fresh and wonderful.
It isn’t too hard to find odd and quirky combinations of both mundane & exotic materials and examples of spectacular & naive decorative arts and crafts side by side in Winchester, especially in the Cathedral. Almost one thousand years of continual occupation of this religious site bears witness to an unbroken architectural legacy, one that is brimful of odd juxtapositions, exotic materials, renewed or replaced fabric, scratched graffiti, vandalism and destruction. Like walking through a time-warp. Robust Norman Romanesque Architecture to Perpendicular Gothic in one step. Swedish Marble to Purbeck Stone in another. Extant 13th Century inlaid ceramic floor tiles to 1960’s replicas. Striking thresholds crossed mixing time and material, yet the experience is not jarring or disjointed. Time itself has softened these transitions and blurred the edges.
I am continually cherry picking from the world around me, plucking at things, tucking things away for later – like a squirrel, gathering nuts for winter or in the manner of a herbivore, continually grazing, & chewing the cud. I am gathering visual information – an extraordinary cabinet of curiosity in my mind. Certain things catch my attention, whilst others pass me by. This eclectic meander is not a considered or deliberate creative manoeuvre. It is innate. It is my pattern of speech, it is my handwriting. It simply is.
SANDSTONE – FLINT – LIMESTONE – EBONY BLACK TOURNAI MARBLE – HAND MADE BRICK – OAK TIMBERS – INLAID CERAMIC TILES – MONOLITHIC GRANITE – CAST IRON – GUN METAL – CARVED OAK – STAINED GLASS – WINDOW TRACERY – LEAD
Oh my word…we’re on a roll in production up at Hardscape in Bolton.
These images are hot off the press, as skilled stone specialists at Hardscape focus on the applied detail. Water jet cutting, inlaying, sandblasting and laser etching their way through 15 bespoke units destined to be embedded into the landscape of the new housing development at Rochester Riverside for client Countryside Properties. This work needs to be handled with care and demands high levels of craft skills. Hardscape have been excellent at providing creative collaboration .
Above: This is the ‘&’ from ‘WALRUS & NELLIE’. Water jet cut into a slab of Red Shiraz Granite 900mm x 300mm x75mm. It is awaiting the inlaying of the circle of yellow Amarelo Real Granite. It looks amazing. WALRUS & NELLIE were the names of two portable aggregate conveyors loading stone and cobbles on and off barges at Cory’s Wharf, Blue Boar Hard.
Above: This is the laser etched ‘DUNLIN A SALTMARSH BIRD’, , waiting to be water jet cut from its slab of beautiful Carlow Limestone & inset into a slab of red granite. See image below, where the DUNLIN has been partially cut out from the block in concentric linear patterns. This is a complex unit, with other letters inlaid. Precision is key. These beautifully crafted objects embedded in the landscape, will be a gentle reminder of the natural, social and industrial history of the site.
The laser etched image of the Shelduck will now be water jet cut out of the Carlow slab and the motif inlaid into a slab of Kobra Green Granite, which has the shape of the bird already cut into the surface.
Interesting to note also that the Carlow Limestone has beautiful fossil shells embedded. Also note that these are not my feet, they probably belong to Pedro, who is overseeing and also working on my project. Without skilled people like this, I would be lost !
Always a relief to see projects get to this stage ! The printing has started ! Swift Signs in Weymouth are now in production of the glazing vinyl artworks for the Radiotherapy Outpatients Unit. Install is scheduled for next week. Watch this space !
Have you ever thought what is up there, caught between the vaulted ceiling and the external roof? It was this hidden void in the attic, described as ‘a forest‘ , which so disastrously burned at Notre Dame in April this year. On Wednesday 19th June this year I ventured up the Tower of Winchester Cathedral to reach the same space. I have really wanted to venture into this cavernous space – between the 14th & 15th Century vaulted nave we see in the image above and the original massive timbered roof for years. This complex structure is what pilgrims and locals would have seen & looked up into prior to the nave being constructed. It is the most amazing floating world – a dark void – a medieval secret.
Above: This is the timber walkway inside the void space, which sits atop the massive oak beams which cross the nave . The walkway disappears into the bell tower and Norman part of the Cathedral. Images do not do this space justice! This is the longest Medieval Cathedral nave in Europe. The Lierne Vaulted ceiling of the nave lies just below the cross beam timbers.
‘The cathedral possesses the only diatonic ring of fourteen church bells in the world. The back twelve were all cast by John Taylor & Co in 1937. They were augmented to fourteen when two new bells were added in 1992 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. ‘One bell was cast by Anthony Bond, an itinerant Founder in 1621.’ Wikipedia Ref
Above: This image shows Norman stone carving high up in the Bell Tower. Quite amazing to get so close to it. The stonemason’s tool marks so fresh still.
Here are a few images of the final artworks – it may help to know that any white used in the design does not print – and remains completely clear – bringing the outside in and extending the impact of the work to the external landscape beyond the clinical spaces. The colours also vary in transparency and opacity, so do not appear anywhere near as flat and opaque as they do in the artwork – which is a good thing right? I thinks so…
The top and bottom screen elevations work together as two adjacent spaces, where the designs overlap. Anything printed white here is actually completely clear and does not print. so you could imagine these two images combining with the external landscape.
Mid-September and it was up to Hardscape, Bolton to see progress on the manufacture of the bespoke inlaid granite paving units. As ever, the works are of a really high quality and Hardscape are always keen to progress & test their creative collaborations.
15 granite units are in production. These vary in size from 1200mm x 400mm x 75mm to 900mm x 300mm x 75mm and are destined to be installed at the thresholds to housing & apartment blocks at Rochester.
This work is achieved via water jet cutting and inlay techniques using colour matched resin to bond granite elements in place. Text and other motifs are also sandblasted at varying depths.
In August all was ready for the casting of the iron units and off I eagerly trotted on the train up to Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax to be present during a famous ‘Casting Thursday’! – I have been up to Hargreaves only once before and Andrew Knight, Foundry & Patternshop Manager showed me around the factory at that time. Even though this was impressive, (& it is !) it couldn’t match being present to witness my own work being cast. It is such a physical, visceral process, fully hands on and dangerous with it. The skill & craft is astonishing and it is this legacy of making, which Hargreaves has in bucketfuls, that I wanted to design into the public art work for Rochester.
Nine cast iron units have now been made, from 5 original cnc tooled patterns manufactured to my designs by Arthur Jackson & Co Ltd, Halifax. These patterns, cnc tooled from a type of resin block are used to prepare the resin sand mould boxes used in the final casting process. The cast units are then hand finished through grinding and polishing methods.
Individual one ton iron weights are used to secure the moulds during casting, such are the pressures of heat during the process. The moulds are constructed from a resin infused black sand, which has been compacted around the master pattern, which is then removed.
What I can’t convey here is the noise, heat, smell & excitement of this process during the critical stages of casting. The experience is vivid and visceral. I am watching something being made which could last for hundreds of years.
The units above and below have now been treated with Nitric Acid to prevent rusting through oxidation. The cast iron is almost black and the relief jumps out very cleanly.
These sketches and studies below are part of a series of early drafts and drawings, which were completed in June this year. They were derived from contextual research and concept design development for the generation of the interpretive public art elements at Winchester Station. Several versions of this initial research have been submitted for discussion and comment.
These early drafts considered an ‘all-over’ repeating pattern for natural sandstone paving, influenced by the Cathedral’s extant 13th Century medieval inlaid ceramic floor tiles – and used here as a super-graphic motif. At this time I was not responding to any masterplan proposals from the client’s Architects and Urban Planners LDS – as these had not yet been circulated for discussion. The ideas were formulated in response to my own research in the city and now form the foundations of my project approach.
The building stones of Winchester are hugely influential when looking at the interpretation of place and the significance of the Station as a gateway to the City. Although granite has been used here, local sandstones and limestones with flint and brick dominate.
The low lying architectural scale and presentation of the Station buildings, warrant a softer frame with regard to paving. Sandstone fits this bill. Granite being perhaps too corporate and ubiquitous for this site.
The City has a strong tradition of procession and pilgrimage, which reinforces notions of way finding and direction, arrival and departure, as well as the physical experience of walking and the materials you are walking upon.
Formalities aside, it was a great day and I was very touched and proud to have been involved in the project . The weather was pretty glorious on the day – so the glazing appeared at its very best., reflecting perfectly off the pool surface and creating the most beautiful backdrop for the day’s events. Positive comments all round was a great sign that the project had been a collaborative & creative success. A massive thanks to Art at the Heart and especially to the efforts of Hetty Dupays, Art and Design Manager and her brilliant team.
Early beginnings…outlines…some thoughts and notes –
Actually, this short concept development project was commissioned in May 2019 by Winchester City Council . The brief called for creative & contextual research with which to frame a ‘concept-led’ draft scope for the inclusion of public art & interpretation within the Winchester Station Approaches project. The client’s Architectural & Urban Planning consultants LDS Architects have developed a Masterplan Framework & Public Realm for the Station Approach site, which has since been made public & my work may eventually be embedded into this scheme or influence the final detailed design for the public realm.
As a creative research-led project I have set out to celebrate the City of Winchester’s rich cultural history by examining its use of specific materials, decoration & craft skills within its architectural legacy and built landscape, with a particular emphasis on Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest Cathedrals in Europe.
The Station is the Gateway to the City, once the Anglo Saxon capital under Alfred the Great. As a Gateway the Station and its surrounding external environment should be above all else welcoming. The public realm is required to deliver this. It can also give visual expression, via its landscape, materials and detail to what may be discovered by visitors moving beyond the Station. The Cathedral, for example cannot be seen when arriving by train, when, by contrast the Cathedrals of both Bath and Durham present their magnificent architecture from afar.
This is still early days in research and concept development. No doubt this project will shape-shift considerably along the way.
People come from around the world to visit
5 million arrivals and departures recorded
in 2018 –
What should this Gateway communicate about Winchester?
The Cathedral ?
Cathedral was founded in 1079 – it is an astonishing 940 years old & we can still walk around it in the
footsteps of countless others. The whole building was completed in the form we
see & experience today in the 16th Century. The spectacular Nave
in Perpendicular Gothic with Lierne Vaulting was completed in the 14th
& 15th Centuries. The carved oak Quire Stalls
were created between 1306 and 1309. We know who carved them & we know who
‘In the Christian Medieval world, this ‘arrival’ was rewarded through the sheer brilliance & breath-taking fusion of art & architecture as seen in the form of the Cathedral. This building was clearly at the heart of Winchester and England. It was the house of God and widely interpreted as the gate of Heaven, a world-renowned centre of pilgrimage, education & religious life’.
CONCEPT: to explore some the materials that built Winchester and, in doing so, reinforce their importance and role in communicating the cultural significance of the city. Rare & bespoke materials and craft can reflect this. These materials connect us to the past, the present & the future.
Manufacturing and contemporary methods – crafts fused with the latest technology.
Reflect the ingenuity and importance of the craftsmen & master masons of the age of Cathedrals. Illuminated Manuscript Illustrators and Master Masons were itinerant specialists – often travelling continually between great building projects.
I am also influenced by the on-going work to maintain and secure historical structures. Cathedral Masons repair and replace stonework. Over time, this must lead to substantial renewal. This concept of gradual change and renewal is of great interest.
For Example: Solid or monolithic blocks used as primary public art sculptural artwork benches within the current forecourt plan submitted by LDS Architects – with secondary barrier benches in another repeating style.
OPTIONS: creative thinking out loud ! Materials could include…
OAK – inspired by the massive oak timbers in the cathedral roof & bell tower and the brilliance of the carving in the Quire Stalls.
TOURNAI MARBLE – The beautiful 12th Century font – see below – sculpted from a single massive block of blue black carboniferous limestone, known as “Tournai marble“, was quarried from the banks of the River Scheldt’ & brought from Tournai in modern day Belgium. These were extremely rare and highly prized medieval luxury items. The natural stone is 135 million years old.
Bench Three: SWEDISH MARBLE – see below – this was considered an exotic imports from the Baltic states & illustrates the connectedness of Winchester to other places through trade and pilgrimage. This ledger stone is for Francisca Clobery, the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. Sir John was a 17th Century Merchant with connections to Europe.
Alfred the Great twice went on pilgrimage to Rome, the first time as a young boy in 853AD. I can’t but wonder if he had seen the Pantheon & the astonishing interiors of marble clad walls and polished patterned floors?
GLASS – The huge medieval stained glass West Window was smashed by Cromwell’s forces in 1642, but the fragmented remnants were gathered together and the window eventually restored maintaining the fragmented style.
CAST IRON – GUN METAL – Jewell & Son, City Foundry, between Middle and Lower Brook Street in Winchester was owned by the Jewell family and made components for the GWR Railways Winchester to Newbury Line. It was one of several iron foundries in the city. The coming of the railway and the ensuing Victorian Industrial Revolution brought massive change and population growth to the city. On each of the bells of the Cathedral it is recorded that it was ‘Recast by John Taylor and Co., Loughborough, 1937’. John
TERRAZZO – a fusion of fragmented materials with the
ARCHITECTURAL CERAMIC – Much of Winchester is built of brick and tile, with clay locally sourced and manufactured & fired often close to the site. The Cathedral has an extant 13th Century pavement of inlaid ceramic including many beautifully reproduced in the 1960’s.
GRANITE – Granite is not a historic building material in Winchester, nonetheless it does appear in various forms within the city centre. however, For example, the plinth for for the statue of Alfred on the Broadway (1901) is made of granite. Brought by rail from Penryn in Cornwall , at the time they were the largest blocks of granite ever moved – and processioned by steam tractor through the streets of Winchester – at the height of the second Industrial Revolution and Victorian pomp.
FLINT – a quintessential Winchester material.
These materials could be treated in the following ways:
could be cut, laminated and re-cut to present a geological and
decorative expression – using the latest manufacturing technology. Surfaces can
be inlaid, laser etched, sandblasted or textured to provide variety and
narrative. Objects can be cast, moulded or carved.
Lines & intersections within the general forecourt paving scheme suggest way-finding & direction but are also resonant of the magnificent Cathedral Lierne Vaulting, a high point in Gothic Architecture & engineering skill – the crossing and interweaving of stone vaulting providing the myriad crossing points and junctions for decorated bosses. Within the Station forecourt and approaches, these paving lines will intersect, at which point more focussed detail could be embedded in the form of robust but beautifully finished granite or cast iron units. These lines extend outwards from the Station Forecourt up Station Road and down Station Hill. I would propose to extend interventions and interpretive artwork in this direction to encourage the preferred pedestrian routes.
& Decoration seen throughout Winchester and fused into an
astonishingly beautiful form in the Cathedral
reflects the local & natural world of flora and fauna, alongside the
non-secular world of Christianity and faith. I am inspired by the brilliance of
illustrated manuscripts, such as the Winchester Bible & Botanical
Manuscripts held in the Cathedral Library and Archive. Fragmented details of
these motifs could be used to animate the forecourt and Gateway, but also to
give clues to visitors and locals alike as to what may be found within the
Secondary Barrier features nearest to the highway could all be in the same material – granite or sandstone. Reinforced concrete base structure could be stone clad or be used as an immoveable base / foundation.
The fusing of architectural styles, which
in turn create a legible & experiential timeline over hundreds of years in
the Cathedral is an on-going inspiration.
Conduited Water flowing under the City
Streams and Rivers and Water Meadows –
Communicate this concept – Beauty, architectural and cultural heritage,
technology, creativity found in the City of Winchester using a palette of
resonant and contextually intriguing materials, textures and narrative (tell
good stories!) –
I am also researching the following:
Brewery & Reservoirs on the Carfax Site –
business and inhabitants of Station Hill, Station Road and Gresham
Mill – A
700 years old Water Mill demolished in 1966 with massive oak timbers and cast
iron machinery made locally –
Winchester City Mill
Guild processions held on Corpus Christi by the Catholic Church –
Jewell, City Iron Foundry, Winchester –
William Walker – Deep Water Diver & Cathedral Saviour
Site specific and local details can reflect smaller influences – the lives and livelihoods of local people and what they did etc. It is important to acknowledge the whole community its diversity.
I am creating options for paving, seating, edges, retaining structures and kerbs – this keeps sightlines clear and reduces clutter in the landscape.
‘Purbeck marble was extensively used for grave markers and grave stones (ledger stones). Later, large black ledger stones of Tournai marble were very much in fashion. Of particular interest is the ledger stone of Francisca Cloberij (sic), the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. It is of a distinctive Ordovician limestone (around 465 million years ago) from the Island of Öland, Sweden, containing the straight-shelled Nautiloid, Orthoceras’. It is something of an anomaly, but intriguing nonetheless.
I have made several visits to Winchester to consult with specialists, with particular relevance to the Cathedral. I have walked the streets, and routes into the City and experienced the crossing points and have undertaken my own creative site analysis. I have ongoing research threads with the City and with a number of specialist materials suppliers and manufacturers. I have consulted with the Hampshire Archive Services and the Winchester City Trust.
I have meetings arranged with the Cathedral Archivist and Librarian and also with the Cathedral Stonemasons. If possible, I would like to collaborate with the Stone Mason in the production of one of the benches.