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.
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.
Chatham Placemaking Project – A beautifully crafted thing…
Since starting the Chatham Placemaking Project, I am proud and pleased that much of the work we have done has been wonderfully crafted.
Words can be beautifully crafted to capture the essence of meaning, or a point in time, the spirit of a place. Materials too can be made to speak and assembled with care into something meaningful and poetic.
The writer, filmmaker, designer and poet with whom I have worked and collaborated on the project have all brought experience, originality, humour to the table, but above all they have brought an ability to assemble what they know & what they have created into a beautifully honed and finished thing – a sentence, a film, a poem, a pattern. These people are highly skilled. Andrew Lapthorn, a craftsman and furniture maker working from the Historic Dockyard has produced perhaps one of the most beautiful objects created for the project. His laminated Elm radius curved seat – part of a collaboration with me to create 6 granite and timber street benches – has now been installed at New Cut, Chatham, one of two radius timber seats.
Above: Granite & Timber street bench. Honed monolithic granite with stainless steel armrest by Hardscape.
Public spaces – especially those well trafficked, endure heavy duty wear and tear. These seats have been manufactured from robust and tough materials. This timber element was constructed from 45 layers of laminated mature English Elm, which was generously donated to the project by the Historic Chatham Dockyard from the equally historic Timber Seasoning Sheds. Each layer may have 2 of 3 individually sawn planks. It is a brilliant piece of work and very beautiful. It speaks loudly to me and is exemplary of the experience and love of making, which all the artists and creatives involved in the project have instilled in their work, often quietly and unseen. Andrew Lapthorn’s seat, encapsulates so much that has been done by us all in gathering our base material, spending time with it, mulling it over, discarding what doesn’t work, before finally committing to its final form.
Andrew has documented his work over many months and has given us access to the archive of images. Some of them are astonishing. Again, worth repeating, that his process reflects all of our various processes in various forms, making various outcomes. It is all about craft, mixed with experience, originality and passion. I will be making a longer post about this work.