Monday 18th May 2015 – today I have to revise and update the contextual research document I made earlier in the schedule –
I want to submit this as supplementary research and development to illustrate how the artist (me) has worked with the project team in order to influence the design process. Not easy to reduce and re-define what has gone before, but so much more has happened over the last few weeks, that I have to bring this up to date. Am in my studio here in Ramsgate trying to figure out the best approach. I think it’s going to be a late night !
Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th May 2015 -On Tuesday I travelled up to Cardiff from Ramsgate, Kent for a design meeting with Capita, the project architects. I was accompanied by Simon Fenoulhet of Celfwaith, who developed and is overseeing the Public Art Strategy for Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council along with Mererid Velios. Great to have someone with his experience with whom to navigate the project !
We discussed the draft development of the building and landscape and how the creative contextual research and analysis of the site, which I have been doing in order ‘to influence the design process’ is becoming a part of the interpretive strategy for the building. Once this process becomes more involved and collaborative then I hope we will see some really interesting narratives and themes emerging. We are continually having to address the function of this site as a Bus Station and interchange and the demands it brings to the project. That notwithstanding, the interpretation and contextual needs and aspirations for this site have to be seriously considered.
I met with Jason Williams, Lecturer in Art & Design at The College Merthyr Tydfil, and co-ordinator of Level 3 Art. This is just one of a much wider portfolio of courses offered within the division of Creative Industries at the College, which is headed up by Chris Ford.
The Art & Design studios are on the top floor of the building affording the most amazing and creatively aspirational views in the region. Creativity is really significant here. I like to think of this place as a powerhouse of ideas and inspiration – innovation and energy – building a new legacy for Merthyr Tydfil via Education and the Arts.
We discussed the potential for some engagement by students – in this case within Art and Design, but could perhaps encompass the wider Creative Industries Division – to work within and or alongside the Bus Station and Link Bridge developments to take advantage of a live project against which to set and test skills and creativity.
The potential to build this engagement into the Academic year is a tangible one, but something that would have to be developed quickly during this month in order to build it into the next Academic Year.
The College Merthyr Tydfil also shares space at Redhouse, the former Town Hall on the High Street, where all Music, Media, Film, Dance, Technical Theatre and Drama students study in bespoke professional standard facilities.
Thursday 30th April 2015 – This has been a crowded by very productive visit. Yesterday in the National Museum Cardiff and this morning meeting with the Principal of The College Merthyr Tydfil. What perhaps I didn’t mention in the last post, is that the aim of these meetings is to propose some form of engagement with educational establishments and local schools here in Merthyr, during the construction period of the new Bus Station.
This afternoon I had two very informative visits to local schools in Caedraw. St Mary’s Catholic School. Headteacher, Mrs K Wathan, unfortunately had to go to another meeting, I met with her deputy, assistant headteacher Mrs C Cope. St Mary’s school fields and perimeter fence run partly along Swan Street, juts opposite the site of the new Bus Station. This obviously raises questions about security, noise, transparency and the increased pedestrian activity on the site. As the schools are actually side by side and share a perimeter fence, very much the same issues arose when talking to Mrs J Watkins, Headteacher of Caedraw Primary Schooland her Deputy Head, Miss D Williams.
These issues notwithstanding, the purpose of my visit was to discuss the opportunity for engagement with the schools and pupils. This could be by way of a drawing or writing project about Bus Stations, or transport – or even to explore the impact of the new Bus Station on their school day. Quite often on project such as this the main contractor, once appointed, would engage with the local community. Often this translates as artwork on the site hoardings – which can be very visual and effective – to learning visits by children to the project site throughout the build programme to see exactly how this building is constructed.
I would like to see the contractors and other site specialists visit the schools to talk to the children about their work. I will develop this proposal in more detail over the coming weeks. WATCH THIS SPACE!
One of the hundreds of miners who worked on the project volunteered to come to the local primary school to be the model for our Combe Down Miners Ceramic Project. Most of the miners came from South Wales.