Working with Andrew Lapthorn has been amazing. We have collaborated really well. He has done ALL the hard work. His craftsmanship is of the highest quality. The timber elements he has contributed to the project are artworks in their own right and I can’t wait to see them all installed. I know for a fact that he has been documenting his process throughout the project and that he has some amazing images. I am really hoping to get my hands on them and bask in his reflected glory.
He did in fact let a few images slip from his grasp – and they are reproduced here.
I showed the image above in the last post, but needed to upload again so you can make sense of the images to follow. This shows a single plank of elm being bent to shape over the formwork. The radius laminate seat involves laminating and bending 45 individual layers of English Elm to create the final work. Each layer may contain up to 3 or 4 individual cut planks of timber. The effect of this is to create not only a robust and highly engineered structure, but a sculptural object with beautiful aesthetics, colour variation and flow.
‘Medway Council successfully secured £700,000 from the government’s Local Growth Fund through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) to contribute towards the £1.4m upgrade, with Network Rail match-funding the windfall through its National Station Improvement Programme’. Medway Council
This was great news to see this project being promoted on Linkedin this week by Medway Council. Following the near completion of public realm works and embedded public art along Railway Street and Military Road, including New Cut, St John’s Steps and Military Square, Chatham Railway Station is now about to undergo its long awaited regeneration too, at the head of our works as part of the Chatham Placemaking Project.
I made one of the first posts about Chatham Station on this blog back in September 2015 in the very early stages of our research and contextual work on the project. Click on this link for more information.
Many draft proposals and developments of conceptual and contextually based responses to the site were developed and considered. The final detailed designs for public art interventions were presented to Medway Council and their partners Network Rail in January 2018. This work dovetails with works already carried out and continues themes and material choices and finishes established at the outset of the scheme.
The following images highlight the proposals we put forward at the beginning of 2018.
A simple monolithic granite bench was also commissioned for Rogallo Place by Optivo Homes. A beautiful honed finish is sandblasted with the name of the building alongside detailed motifs reflecting the glazing vinyls of the building’s interior.
The bench was manufactured and supplied in collaboration withHardscape,as ever, great to work with.
The image above was taken during production at Hardscape’s Facility at Long Marston, near Stratford Upon Avon.
You may have seen some of our work embedded into the streetscape along Railway Street. Large scale granite kerbs contain words sandblasted or inlaid into the surface. You may wonder what these words mean, or how they relate to you. Here is a short explanation of how they came about.
We often talk about words having weight – of text being ‘set in stone’… or ’engraved in stone’…suggesting gravitas, importance, longevity, …we all like a funny ‘one liner’…colloquial, local…distinct Chatham voices…
Well, here in Chatham your words really are being set in stone…for all to read…for years to come –
You may know that the aim of this public realm project was to upgrade the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. This includes pedestrian and cycle routes as well as crossing points, upgrading paving materials, improving steps and ramps, opening up the public realm and streamlining access and pedestrian permeability. This work was driven by Francis Knight, Public Art Consultants & our project collaborators and consultants to Medway Council, LDA Design and Project Centre.
We have worked within these parameters, using the language of public realm and materials, which are robust and stand the test of time. We have created a quiet ‘narrative’ thread – a story about Chatham– & more specifically about events and places along this route.
We wanted the streets to speak quietly, confidently & with good humour about Chatham…WHAT MAKES A TOWN ?…THESE ARE OUR STREETS…part memorial, part living voice…but mostly a celebration of the rich heritage and community of Chatham.
As an artist and designer of public spaces, this project has been an opportunity to influence our surroundings in a way that ‘speaks’ of Chatham and its people. We mostly take our pavements for granted, but these spaces have often developed from historic pathways and tracks linking communities and towns across the wider region. They have a resonance and a ‘voice’, …and echo with history.
The route from the Station to the Waterfront takes us down Railways Street & Military Road – in doing so we pass several key places, such as New Cut ( a former farmyard), St John’s ( a Grade II Listed Waterloo Church) – Military Square, considered the Heart of the Town. At these important sites, we have made interventions to articulate the granite kerb in ways which are expressive and of interest, whilst still maintaining functionality.
We were keen to hear and to record everyday voices …words spoken by ordinary people – such as ‘the girl who cried when she lost her phone and then cried again when she found it’... ‘the lovey barmaid’ …or ‘Colin, the man who carried coal for charity’…these are the voices of people on the street, passers by, people shopping & passing the time of day. We engaged with people directly in conversation, we overheard the conversations of others, we wrote down and recorded stories and anecdotes we were told.
I was very fortunate to collaborate with other artists on this project. Filmmaker Simon Williams succinctly and with an understated eye for visual language and movement, cleverly framed our project parameters and vision in a series of short films, whilst printmaker Xtina Lamb rendered our architectural vision into graphic patterns & motifs used throughout the scheme. Both artists also live in Chatham, bringing their individual & unique perspectives to play. However, it was the award winning writer Rob Young, who contributed significantly to the embedded text. An astute, profound and funny wordsmith with an ability to engage anyone and everyone, turning their words into poetry along the way.
“The knitter. Whose name is Pearl.
The woman. Who uses the word ‘like?’ As like, punctuation?
The woman. Who said sorry. When you’re the one who pushed in.
The woman. Who draws breath. Then monologues. For an hour.
The waiter. Who had a fling. With a Bride. At her wedding.
The girl. Who cried. All day. When she lost her phone. Then cried again. When she found it.
The boy. Whose Mum. Made him take back the sweets. That he stole.
The man. Who says, I’m mad, me. Who isn’t mad, at all. Just lonely”. Rob Young 2016
Justin Coe, a poet and writer also contributed, animatedly performing his work directly to camera, whilst walking the route in a film by Simon Williams.
“On his way to his first day of school on Rome Lane
(The name of this road – before the trains came)
And while we’re walking with Dickens – observe the new Church
They’ve called it St Johns. And it will soon be the first
Public building in Chatham lit by electricity!…
Though all the lights went out here by the end of last century…” Justin Coe 2016
Local school children & people working in local businesses were asked for their comments. We listened to them & heard their stories. We listened to the sound of their lives. There is an overwhelming sense of common ownership in this project. These words are not ours. They belong to Chatham.
We referenced times past by collaborating with MALSC (Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre) and other local agencies in searching for site specific text, such as the words of famous visitors & local Luminaries such as Charles Dickens, reminiscing about ‘soldiers marching through the town in regimented rows …’
The oversized granite kerbs we have used here become a metaphor for the continuity of the local community – kerbs being critical in holding roads and pavements in place – they are physically important in maintaining the fabric of our environment –they could almost be described as ‘defensive structures’ maintaining the integrity and safety of our public spaces …reminiscent of the Chatham Lines – the historic defensive structures, forts and earthworks, which offered protection to the people of Medway & especially the Chatham Dockyard …
The granite kerb acts as a threshold between various states …of the pedestrian…and the driver, or moving fast or slow – perceptions of safety & danger…often the original granite kerb is often the only thing left in place when pavements and roads have been re-placed or modernised throughout recent history…the kerb maintains the parameters of how public spaces were managed and maintained. These lines of granite are also ‘our other Chatham Lines…’
More of the kerbstone lies buried beneath the surface than on top of it… and so it is also a rather poignant link between the past and the present…where times and events past lie buried beneath out feet –
Our work in Chatham set out to find and hear voices and words which quietly & evocatively create a sense of place associated with each of our stopping points on the route from the Station to the Paddock… the power of these voices is amplified by the weight and mass of the monolithic granite.
Left in place, these words will still be here in a hundred years from now…
In 1912 – No 26 was the home of the Invicta Furniture and Baggage Depository. No 28 was a Garage and Cycle Works.
The 1848 Ordnance Survey Public Health Map of Chatham shows Rome House – a large detached mansion set in landscaped gardens – opposite St John’s Church on Rome Lane. Following the building of Chatham Railway Station, Rome Lane became Railway Street sometime after 1871. No 41 would have been a new property named after the original house.
This detail of the OS 1864 Map of Chatham shows Chatham Station at the bottom of this image. Railway Street to Military Road runs from the middle of the image to the top of the image. St John’s Church and Rome House can clearly be seen.
I have to admit that this is the first time I have been inside the multi storey car park at the junction of West Park Road and Kingsbridge Lane. The first time in over 12 years coming to Southampton. What a good view down Blechynden Terrace !
The main pedestrian routes on the north and south sides have been re-surfaced and the public artwork “Canal Shore’, a 205m long wide basalt kerb detail with inlaid granite text, forms a strong and robust visual desire line on the south side of Blechynden Terrace all the way to the Station Forecourt.
The footpath just visible at the bottom left corner of this image is the start of Kingsbridge Lane, which is the main pedestrian route from the Station to the City Centre and Cultural Quarter. This route is very well trafficked and very busy at peak times, with a flow of people at all times of day. The visual and physical connection to the Station Quarter Project is currently poor and we are now scoping this route to consider an approach to regenerating the site and improving connectivity and user experience.
It’s been a while since I posted an update on the Station Quarter Project –
I met up on site with Simon Taylor – Urban Design Manager, Balfour Beatty Living Placesand Pete Boustred – Transport Policy & Sustainable Travel Team Leader at Southampton City Council. I was first commissioned to work on the interpretive and site responsive elements of the project by Simon at BBLP in 2012. We have worked together several times previously in the City. BBLP are delivering the project for Southampton City Council.
Massive changes since my last visit if you look at earlier posts, but brilliant to see the project coming together so well. The amphitheatre steps, part of the Phase 2 works on Wyndham Place have arrived and have been lifted into place. There are a number of other structures still with the manufacturer and these are expected to arrive over the coming weeks. The installation of the large-scale bespoke cast concrete benches, amphitheatre steps and retaining structures manufactured by CCPwill continue over the coming weeks. Hopefully I will get down to Southampton again soon to record more progress.
What was a real pain was that although it was a brilliant blue day – this part of the site was in deep shadow, so the images are a bit too dark to do the work justice !
Other cast concrete works are also on site –
These benches are on the Station Forecourt, immediately as you enter or exit the Station building. This is one section of a large curving two tier bench and way-finding feature within the scheme.
The images clearly show the scale and impact that the Coastal Protection Project has had on the local area. The additional public realm and and amenity space that the works have provided is shaping the way that the seafront engages with the Old Town and Harbour. Even at high tide, the Old Town is accessible from the beach, which had previously not been possible. The wonderful coastal setting which has become the backdrop for the regeneration of the Harbour Arm, Custom House, Turner Contemporary, Old Town, Margate Steps and now finally Dreamland coming on stream has really made Margate magnificent once again.
Works are progressing well on site – in fact the scheme is very much in it’s final phase of works to complete the landscape around the site.
Most of the interpretive public art elements are now installed throughout the site.
The content of many of these images you may be familiar with – but the installation is much nearer to completion with the soft landscape details really making an impact on the interpretation and public art elements. Area Landscape Architectsare responsible for the external landscape concept, design and strategy and have created a sensitive and wonderful scheme, which I have been fortunate to work within.
“Never will the nations of the earth be well governed until both sexes, as well as all parties, are fully represented and have an influence, a voice, and a hand in the enactment and administration of the law”.Anne Knight, 1847.
Finally caught up with progress on the Central Chelmsford Project on Thursday 19th February.
I hadn’t been to site since October 2014 & things had really moved on, with one block of the development already open to residents. The public realm is still ongoing, which includes the embedded artwork and interpretive text.
The York stone steps with inset granite text was manufactured & supplied by the Ashfield Group. The installation on site is a very time consuming and bespoke process. I am looking forward to seeing the works all cleaned up and finished.
The large sandblasted granite platform seat has been installed, but not completely finished as yet. This element, along with the sandblasted paving text was manufactured & supplied by Hardscape.
The central courtyard is in progress, with brick built raised beds with trees, shrubs and grasses. All hard landscape concept design and planting for the scheme is by Area Landscape Architects.
The interpretation work I have done is mainly embedded within this scheme as seating, paving & steps. The text – as seen below – sandblasted into Royal Green Granite slabs & set into York Stone paving – has not yet been cleaned & is very dusty and dirty from continuing building works. The site is closed to the public. This will however, become a busy pedestrian thoroughfare when completed. .