I was very excited to make this shortlist – and was then asked to develop some of the draft ideas submitted with the application before the final artist selection was made. On 18th December I sent myself to Coventry, a day return by train from my home in Ramsgate. There was no option, I had to see it for myself.
We may not know it or acknowledge it, but we all store impressions of places we have been. We intuitively know how a place makes us feel. We can learn how to navigate from A – B via landmarks rather than signage. Feeling our way around. Buildings, the curve of a street – the shape of a tree, the colour of a door, sounds and smells, a wobbly flagstone. I have been ‘looking’ at places in this way for thirty years or more. It’s a habit now, unselfconscious & automatic, creatively surveying spaces, unpicking and unravelling.
This isn’t an academically critical or formal process, it is an emotional and personal one. You follow your nose. I follow mine. Seeing & feeling the shape, colour and texture of places. Cherry-picking images – a personal choice, but it starts to build an original visual language with which to understand & express for myself what makes a place interesting. I’m not looking for rights and wrongs either. I am simply fascinated by the way places communicate. Authenticity is hard to find. We live in a global and increasingly
I see patterns in everything. I am fascinated by pavement and pathways – I really am! – I see the history trodden into granite kerbs, threshold slabs, door handles. I notice the craft of buildings, no matter how grand or lowly. The hand of a maker. I see how people take pride in their place of work, their home, themselves.
The celebration of our skills as makers and creators.
I explore on foot. I can’t drive. I seek out what is hidden and forgotten. I see the connections between things past and present. I like the backstreets and the secret places. Curiosity is a sharpened tool of my trade.
The trigger for a project is often a detail, a small thing, something out of the usual. It may be the people, the community who live and work. It is often a combination of several strands coming together, weaving a new narrative – telling a new story. Being a visitor, I will see things differently than if I lived there. Experiences will be novel, bombarded by difference. I will try to connect and talk to people if I can. I cover a s much ground as possible on foot – this way you see the minutiae. I visit archives and museum collections. It is an immersive process. My work is process driven. By that I mean I have to be doing something in order to discover what I am doing, or what I am looking for. I never start with an idea and try to make it. I have a client brief, with a set of parameters outlining desired outcomes. My impressions of places before I visit them or often at odds with the reality of seeing them for myself. I’m like a sponge in these situations, trying to soak up as much as I can. Shaking off what I already think I know about a place is critical. It can be overwhelming having to sift through everything that comes my way – but the things that resonate and stay true and uppermost in my mind eventually begin to coalesce and form the foundation of a start.
What did I know about Coventry? WWII Bombing. The Cathedral. ‘Being sent to …’, Midlands accent, I have visited Coventry previously, it may have been as a student. I have no recall of the Station. We may have come by coach. I do remember the Cathedral, but not in detail. It was probably the reason we came.
The proposals for the PCC Amphitheatre Steps and Seats are currently being considered by the client. In the meantime I am working up some drafts for the use bespoke highly detailed letters in a variety of materials ranging from granite and natural stones, to cast iron, enamelled steel, glazed architectural faience and Terrazzo. These letters will be fixed into the rebated text detail within the cast concrete seat riser, which will be 450mm high. Each bespoke letter can be 400mm high. The depth of the rebate will vary from 5mm to 30mm, however, the bespoke letters will all be best at 30mm deep, keeping them as robust as possible.
‘Under the Shadow of the Crane’ was initially an idea for a large scale granite ‘drawing’ to make up the pavement and public realm of the Crane Point site. Water jet cut granite slabs in two colours would form this extensive mosaic pavement, making permanent the ephemeral passing shadow of the crane, creating a physical memorial to the industrial heritage of the Riverside site.
By mid-December 2019, a number of the bespoke public art units (5 of 24) had been finally installed into the footpaths and thresholds of new properties along sections of Common Creek Wharf and Thalia Way. These parts of the site were fully occupied during the weeks leading up to Christmas. I will update as more units are installed –
Above: You may just be able to make out the ‘5 Cranes Dancing’...just below the CORY’S WHARF text . These cranes were eventually replaced by 2 x 200 tonne Cranes, each capable of lifting 10 tons at a time.
This short creative contract to research and develop concept-led proposals for design interpretation and public art for Winchester Station Approaches has now completed.
This work was intended to inform discussion, dialogue and consultation with regard to the final form and feel for the public realm around Winchester Station. This form of placemaking based upon creative site analysis and creative research , which hopefully results in an original interpretation for the site, is essential to create a space fully responsive to its local environment and client & user aspirations.
Above: This draft study detail of the key to materials, finishes and 3D objects, is a concept only proposal and not intended as a final design. Its description of materials, forms and finishes is subject to further discussion and comment. with a future project team.
I had requested a meeting as a matter of courtesy, having visited the Cathedral several times previously during my research work for the Winchester Station Approach Project. It was important I met with Annabelle as I wished to discuss the possibility of collaborating with the Cathedral and particularly with the Stonemasons. Not only that, but I wished to know more about the Cathedral’s role in the community – an enormously broad subject, but nonetheless, one that I considered vital to understand the nature of its calling. It was of real interest to me to hear Annabelle talk about the Cathedral as a living place serving not only its faithful and local congregation, but everyone and anyone. A living and breathing building, actively engaging with and remaining vital to a worldwide audience in the 21st Century.
One outstanding calling is about welcome. In the Cathedra’s Calling and Vision document , emphasis is placed on welcome, access to all, hospitality and pilgrimage. The Cathedral Close is a haven for visitors and locals alike. The Station is also a Gateway to Winchester, so the same ethos ought to be present here in the public realm too, with an emphasis on welcome, and civic hospitality. A place of arrival and departure, a place of safety, a gateway and a welcome.
Marketing Manager Catherine Hodgson, then took me on a walk around the Cathedral and its outbuildings, including a visit to the stonemasons yard. Should the project progress to design stage, then I will certainly be advocating for a cross discipline collaboration with the Cathedral.
‘Sarsen Stones in Winchester’, from the website of The City of Winchester – these sandstone blocks, sought after as ‘markers’, are an inspiration for block seating at Station Approach…see below…
A number of industries, which Winchester supported, including Watermills, Brewing and Iron Foundries depended upon an immediate and plentiful supply of water. Winchester’s waterways brought wealth to the Cathedral.
Amongst these industries, several stand out as examplers –
City Engineering Works and Iron Foundry – Jewell Family of Middle and Lower Brook Street. Amongst other things the made components for the GWR Railways Winchester to Newbury Line. The family were also involved with Durngate Mill and the initials of Philip Charles Jewell appear on much cast iron work in the City.
My recent trip up to Hardscape at Logistics North near Bolton was a ‘more than hoped for’ brilliant success. This work was conceived with care, skill and emotion. I feel I can honestly say it has been manufactured with care, with enormous skill and equal amounts of emotion. This is what I want to be doing with my time! Achieving beautiful things, creating good work, working with great people. Focussing on craft and natural materials, on age-old skills of hand and eye, fused with technological innovation. I want to work alongside and collaborate with people who are proud of what they do and shout it from the rooftops. –
OK – so with that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the day’s outstanding work.
Above: My good friend, the ampersand. ‘WALRUS & NELLIE’. Unit size – 900mm x 300mm x 75mm. More ‘Tales from Rochester Riverside’…
Above: Details of ‘ADA & EDITH‘ , 900mm x 300mm x 75mm with an inverted ‘WALRUS & NELLIE’. at top. Unit size – 900mm x 300mm x 75mm.
Above: Details of ‘ADA & EDITH‘ , 900mm x 300mm x 75mm with a rectangular block of Carlow Limestone crisply laser etched with the name ‘ADA’ & inset into a slab of Porphyry. An inverted ‘WALRUS & NELLIE’ at top, was also sandblasted and inset with text – unit size – 900mm x 300mm x 75mm.
Above: Eleven of the fifteen units being created up at Hardscape are visible in this image.
Above: At bottom, ‘DUNLIN A SALTMARSH BIRD’, with water jet cut, inset, laser etched and sandblasted granite – unit size – 1200mm x 400mm x 75mm . At top, an inverted ‘GOOZERS & WATERMEN’ – unit size – 900mm x 300mm x 75mm.
The beautifully detailed DUNLIN in black Carlow Limestone is laser etched, then water jet cut from its slab and inset into the red Shiraz base slab. The letter ‘D’ is also water jet cut from green Kobra Granite and inset into both the red Shiraz and the Black Carlow, bonded in place with a golden yellow resin specially selected for colour. The letter ‘U’ and other visible text is sandblasted. This is highly skilled and complex work. Looks bloody amazing too…
Above: ‘GOOZERS & WATERMEN’ is no less complex, with water jet cut and inset text in Maple Red Granite, inlaid into a Black Carlow Limestone base slab, which is in turn sandblasted with text and laser etched to two depths to create the rippling water effect. See images below.
Above: The laser etched text ‘Watermen’ on the ‘GOOZERS & Watermen’, panel is wonderfully delivered with a deeper etch to the centre and a delicate lighter etch to the outline. This attention to detail and finish it what makes these bespoke units so outstanding.
Above: Detail of ‘SHELDUCK’, Laser etched bird motif on black Carlow Limestone, water jet cut-out and inset into a Kobra Green base slab. Letter ‘D’ is also water jet cut and inset. The other letters are sandblasted into the Kobra Green. Unit size – 960mm x 400mm x 75mm
Above: Details of ‘SHELDUCK’ & ‘PERENNIAL GLASSWORT’, just two of our 15 tales from Rochester Riverside. ‘SHELDUCK’, is a laser etched bird motif on black Carlow Limestone, water jet cut-out and inset into a Kobra Green base slab with large letter ‘D’ also water jet cut and inset. The other letters are sandblasted into the Kobra Green. Unit size – 960mm x 400mm x 75mm.‘PERENNIAL GLASSWORT’ is a red Shiraz slab base sandblasted to two depths for text and plant motifs. Royal White & Carlow Limestone letters have also been inset into the surface.
Above: Detail of some of the letters of ‘PERENNIAL GLASSWORT’ sandblasted into red Shiraz granite.
Above: ‘MARSH COWS GRAZING’..& other tales from Rochester Riverside’ is Unit No. 8 in a sequence of 15 bespoke granite units along with 9 bespoke cast iron units together create a story about the history and use of this site from Medieval times to the present day. The slabs are robust and heavyweight, adding a physical presence to the narratives they embody. The lives and livelihoods of Rochester people are represented here. These histories live on in stone and cast iron.
Above: Detail of letters ‘C’ & ‘O’, bot water jet cut and inset from Maple Red Granite and Porphyry respectively and inset into sandblasted Kobra green Granite.
Above & Below: ‘BLUE BOAR CREEK’ & ‘GOLDEN SAMPHIRE’, 2 more Tales from Rochester Riverside. Large letter ‘B’ water jet cut from Maple Red Granite, inset into Black Carlow Limestone with laser etched detail.
Above: ‘GOLDEN SAMPHIRE’ still has the resin bond material smeared over the surface…the cleaned up version can be seen below.
Above: The large letter ‘S’ is water jet cut from black Carlow Limestone, which has beautiful white shell deposits within its matrix., which are wonderfully contrasting when wet.
Above & Below: ’15 BARGES STARTED THE RACE’ & ‘RUSSET BROWN & OCHRE SAILS’. Both bespoke units exhibit great colour contrast and use of stone. Deliberate use of coloured resin bond to fix water jet cut motifs in place adds another dimension.
Above: Detail of the red Shiraz base slab with sandblasted text into which is inset a 2 colour motif with Maple Red granite and Kobra Green, fixed with a coloured resin bond.
Above and Below: ‘THE FIVE BROTHERS’ & ‘SPRITSAIL BARGE’, share a base slab of Porphyry, with sandblasted text and motifs. FIVE BROTHERS has the word ‘FIVE’ inset in water jet cut Maple Red, whilst SPRITSAIL has three letters ‘S’ ‘g’ & ‘L’ inset in Royal White for contrast.
Above and images below: ‘COAL – METER HEAVER WHIPPER’ & ‘WILLIAM CORY & SON LTD COAL FACTORS’.2 Tales from Rochester Riverside…
Above: Top slab – 1200mm x 400mm x 75mm – Crystal Black base slab with sandblasted text & water jet cut and inset Maple Red rectangle with additional inset text in Crystal Black. Bottom slab – 960mm x 400mm x 75mm – Black Carlow Limestone base slab with sandblasted text and motifs with water jet cut and inset Maple Red granite letters and motifs.
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 !
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.
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.