Architen Landrell, who manufactured and installed the tensile screen, sent me their project images this week. Some of these I hadn’t seen before, so am now posting for the first time.
They show the fabric installation in progress and the steel frame attached the columns in the Central Concourse. The concept for the work was determined by the need for the fabric to create a privacy screen between the main thoroughfare and hub of the Central Concourse & the clinical corridor which ran adjacent to it, without compromising the architectural space or blocking light.
Text was used as both a textural device and a narrative with which to lead the viewer through the work. Text came from two primary sources. The Hospital provided a great archive through which to trawl. A good deal of this was in the form of written accounts of service by retired staff. The other source was form an ex US Servicemen, Sidney A. Smith MD, who had served as a doctor at Musgrove Park during WWII. His book, A History of Musgrove Military Hospital During World War II and The 67th General Hospital, was a fascinating account of the early years and origins of the Hospital. Sidney Smith had very kindly allowed me access to his photographs & images during my time working a lead artist at Musgrove Park. Some of this text is below: “A Royal Visit by H.M Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on Thursday, 19th November 1959, was a great occasion for Taunton. The town was gaily decorated, church bells pealed, and, despite the dismal weather forecast, the spirit of the people was at its brightest. Following the reception at the Station, H.M. Queen Elizabeth left for the Musgrove Park Branch of the Taunton & Somerset Hospital, where on arrival, she was presented with a posy of orchids, pink rosebuds and lilies of the valley”. “The 67th General Hospital adopted a banner, which bore images of a Pine tree and a cactus plant to symbolize the Maine contingent of doctors and nurses joined with the enlisted men who were mostly from Texas and Oklahoma”. “We used to have Sunflower competitions at the back of x-ray. Seeds would be planted and ingenious methods of support would be rigged, much to the amusement of both staff and patients”. “From the beginning of my time here we had the National Uniform, classic navy blue for the Sisters and light blue for the Staff Nurses and of course you had your belt, which kept many a waistline under control. We were quick to abandon the paper hats, although the sisters were more reluctant to lose their frilly hats and sleeves. Everyone knew who you were because of the uniform you wore”.
The Central Concourse space has a fantastic timber ceiling detail by Project Architects BDP.
I travelled down to Southampton for a site visit to review the basalt kerbs installed along Blechynden Terrace.
These robust blocks form the kerb edge to the ‘Canal Shore’artwork currently in production by Hardscape up in Halifax. Some corner quadrant features have been installed. This feature runs from outside the Station Forecourt, to the bottom of West Park Rd and Kingsbridge Lane. This text based work – the text is created via water jet cutting and inlaying a contrasting granite into the basalt – is 290 linear metres long x 795mm wide. The text slabs have arrived on site, but awaiting installation in July.
On Thursday 8th May 2014, at an event at the Walpole Bay Hotel in Cliftonville, the Margate Flood and Coast Protection Scheme, aka ‘Margate Steps’ was awarded a Town Pride Award 2014 by the Margate Civic Society.
This follows the 2013 award given to the project at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South East England Engineering Excellence Awards 2013. This award was particularly welcomed as it recognised the benefit of the project in enhancing the experience of its host community. The project team behind the scheme received the award from ICE Senior Vice President, Geoff French, at a ceremony which was held at Leeds Castle on Friday 7 June. The awards recognise the best civil engineering projects across South East England with the judges looking for projects that deliver a real benefit to society through the knowledge, skills and professional expertise of civil engineers.
The revetment steps are now almost a year old and appear to have been really taken to heart by both the community & visitors alike. As well as fulfilling a vital role as protection from the risk of flooding, the defences were designed as a stepped revetment which accommodates integrated seating and lighting to provide an incredible amenity and public realm from which to enjoy Margate’s famous coastal views and sunsets.
I was commissioned in November 2012 by Tom Cox, ‘Artscape’ Project Manager for Oxford Health, to develop artwork for glazing and walls which could also work as way finding. This was achieved via digital printing onto optically clear vinyl and vinyl wall covering by Guardian Glazing Films and their sub consultant Bonwyke.
The project was influenced by its site history, firstly as a private residence called Manor House and an archive publication from the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, which listed in detail, the contents of the house & garden from its sale at the turn of the Century. The house & grounds eventually transformed into Manor House Hospital, which was completely demolished for the new build. I was also really intrigued by the Ecological Assessment of the former Hospital site which was produced by Capita Symonds for Kier Build in 2011 which referred to the original seed bank of the site being present still in the spoil heaps of the demolition.
The artworks are presented as a series of interlinked vistas and quiet spaces which carry references to the site through the interior of the building. The images also to the influence that gardens, nature & the natural world has within the understanding and treatment of acute mental health. One of the aims of the new building is to provide gardening opportunities for service users to grow things and to provide quiet outside spaces where people can be surrounded by planting and seasonal change.
You can hear more on the project via this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orYUpbnacis
The site has a number of key buildings which were once a part of of Anglia Ruskin University. 507 new homes as well as retail and offices will make up the new development. The project is delivering a new community in Chelmsford.
One of the most historic & resonant as well as the earliest buildings on the site is the Grade II listed Anne Knight building, a former Friends Meeting House from 1824. Named after one of Chelmsford’s most distinguished women, Anne Knight 1786 – 1862. Anne Knight was a Quaker and a stalwart Anti Abolitionist, attending the World Anti Slavery Convention meeting held in London in 1840. Her views and correspondence on women’s rights led to her publishing what is considered to be the very first leaflet on women’s suffrage in 1847.
I have also responded to the landscape plans and architectural flow & rhythm of the site as well exploring how the various elements & spaces of the site are navigated and used by pedestrians. As the hub of a new community, the communal areas of the development are important places for people to take ownership of.
As well as collaborating with the project team I am also working and collaborating with several manufacturers and specialist contractors such as Hardscape, Ashfield Ltd & City Squared on elements of paving, seating and steps throughout the site, where interventions will be made via cnc routed text into timber and water jet cut and sandblasted granite.
This elevation functions as a façade rain screen of grey colour-coated 10mm thick panels, manufactured by Rockpanel. It is proposed that the artwork will be formed via cnc routing of this surface, which will expose the base material to a depth of 2mm. When routed, the exposed base material is a greenish yellow, which eventually weathers to a rich brown colour over several weeks.The panels will be invisibly fixed to the sub-base frame & have a joint width of 5mm.
The themes explored in the work are conveyed through dynamic mark making and linear drawing evoking the history of cutlery manufacture in the city and techniques associated with printmaking, engraving, chasing and the evidence of the individual maker. These methodologies have found their way into every nook of the manufactory in Sheffield.
The narrative artwork forms an abstract landscape which can be read either as a vertical landscape or in plan, rather like a map, with forms and shapes redolent of topography, maps, rivers, trees & clouds.
I am working in collaboration with the project team, but more particularly with Mark Durey and his team at The Cutting Room, a company specialising in cnc routing, based in in Huntingdon, Cambs. The cnc process is used here on an architectural scale to create a dynamic façade as a backdrop along Broomgrove Road. They were brilliant to work with and brought so much more to the project than I anticipated. This is the art of collaboration and an excellent project team as previously mentioned, in Sheffield Hallam University, Graham Contractors & HLM Architects.
I was keen from the outset to explore a site-specific response to the project brief. With that in mind I have been researching the many collections and archives housed by Sheffield Museums and Libraries.I am particularly drawn to the history and manufacture of cutlery in the city. Individuals such as Ken Hawley & the wonderful Hawley Collectionat Kelham Island, have made enormous efforts to preserve this legacy.
His keen focus upon the tools of manufacture draw you inexplicably to those individuals directly involved in the process of making & the evidence of the hand crafted & extraordinary skills upon which the wealth of the city was based.
From around 1840 onwards John Watson, a local builder & developer, sponsored the development of an area around Collegiate Crescent. The site was laid out with villas and landscaped in the Gardenesque style. The area rapidly began to house the families of prosperous local industrialists. Many cutlery manufacturers were among them. The area was a draw for wealthy and successful manufacturers from Sheffield – steel & file makers, cutlery manufacturers, printers & publishers.
These are amongst the influencing threads and themes I have worked with.
George Wolstenholme, one of Sheffield’s greatest cutlery manufactures, Master Cutler & owner of the famous Washington Works, built nearby Kenwood House around 1845 with the estate designed by the garden designer Robert Marnock, who also laid out the adjacent Botanic Gardens in the Gardenesque style.
Over the 20th Century much of the area has seen a transition from private residence to educational use primarily by Sheffield Hallam University. The City of Sheffield Teacher Training College was founded on the Collegiate Crescent site in 1905. For the next 60 years or so, the College produced its own publication, The Crescent Magazine. For a long period, the magazine and its frontispiece, was illustrated with linocuts, woodblock prints and other hand tooled printmaking techniques. The effects were dynamic – instant – and very much evident of the hand made. It is unclear whether students or local artists produced the prints, but many of the illustrations are of Collegiate Buildings still extant on the site – and tell stories of events and people directly associated with the College.
The artisan skills extended to sales catalogues & product merchandising. Promotional materials were produced and published locally. The publisher William White lived on Collegiate Crescent in 1861. The printed works of Loxley Brothers & Pawson & Brailsford are much in evidence. The Archives and Collections of Sheffield, including the Hawley, hold many such catalogues – printed locally and beautifully engraved onto copper plates mounted on boxwood by craftsmen with exquisite drawings of knives, forks, files, tools of every variety for distribution to all ends of the earth.
Trade went both ways – with materials arriving into Sheffield from the Empire over. Principally to furnish handles for cutlery manufacture and scales and hafting materials for knives and other cutting tools, the quantities were immense and the sources exotic. Ivory, Mother of Pearl, Brazilian Rosewood, Narwhale, Samba Antlers, Black Buffalo Horn and even Giraffe Bone. In 1878 the storerooms of Joseph Rodgers & Sons held 26 tons of ivory – 2,561 tusks or the equivalent of 1280 Elephants!
During the 19th Century this type of production was a repetitive, highly skilled, hand led process often carried out by small family businesses. The Hawley Collection at Kellam Island is the most amazing resource and repository for the manufacturing minutiae, machinery and hand tools associated with this trade throughout its history. Handling tools worn by use to perfectly fit the makers hand and opening boxes filled with the by products and blanks of a process which may have ended with a Stag Horned carving knife for example is wonderfully evocative.
Without the dedication of people such as Bert Hawley and his team of extraordinary volunteers, this legacy may have been lost to the City, which was for centuries the centre of cutlery manufacture in the country. The heart of the collection is not in its variety or depth or the fact it captures the sheer scale and grinding hard work of production. It is in the hands of its myriad makers that it comes alive. Handling tools, which have probably made millions of repetitive movements over a working lifetime is both powerful & moving. The collection is a vital research tool, drawing both academics and artists to it.
John Ruskin and the Guild of St George – a love of nature, close observation curiosity and drawing –
The visual narrative is extended at other points around the building, most notably on the high glazed curtain wall of the East Elevation Main Entrance facing onto Collegiate Crescent. Here, the bold graphic forms and iconography of the West Elevation respond to the light and open glazed ground floor elevations with a similar language but a much lighter touch, executed in softer, opaque & transparent layers of imagery which first appear as if sandblasted.
To enter the building one has to pass through this ‘veil’ of layered imagery, again exploring the themes outlined above. On bright & sunlit days, these digitally printed surfaces may cast intricate & delicate shadows across the floor of the entrance areas, quietly reminding us all of the continuity and evidence of history surrounding the University, the site and its use.
On 9th May 2014, the Margate Flood & Coast Protection Scheme, aka the Margate Steps will have been officially opened for a year. It is rewarding to see that:
1. The sea defence works are working !…the storms over winter clearly tested the engineering.
2. That the wonderful amenity space we envisaged (over and above its primary function as a sea defence works) would have become such an addition to the Margate sea front environment. I will be posting images and text from the project’s history over the coming weeks.
It was an amazing project to be involved with. I promised myself I would swim off the steps at high tide to celebrate the opening. I missed my opportunity, so am trying again ! Look out for the guy in a wet suit trying hard not to look cold !
A video of Margate Steps can be seen here on its official opening day on 9th May 2013.
I think we can safely say that Margate Steps has benefitted the community.
The blue text outlined below formed a much larger visual narrative prepared to support & inform the designs for the sea defence works. It is made up of historic, anecdotal and real time events which occurred along the length of the new sea defences.
The Jubilee Building Central Concourse Project at Musgrove Park Hospital has now completed on site and the new surgical building was fully opened on 7th April 2014.
This art commission was led by Steven Power, Senior Project Manager for Capital Projects at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton along with Architects BDP and Contractor BAM. Specialist contractors Architen Landrell, Metafab Solutions Ltd and Digital Printers VGL were all integral to the success of the design & production. Bronwen Gwillim, formally Art Co-ordinator of Art for Life at the Hospital initially led the commissioning and early stages of the art project in 2012, and handed over to Lisa Harty in her new role as Arts Co-ordinator to oversee its completion.
The tensile artwork, funded by the Heritage Lottery celebrates the completion of the Jubilee Building as well as commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Hospital originally founded as a US Field Hospital in World War Two. I worked with the Hospital archive and the archivist Louise Donovan as well as bringing my own experience to bear, having been associated with the Hospital for the last 7 years and Lead Artist on a number of projects.