Part 2. ‘Under the Shadow of the Crane’ is actually a reference to the whole of Rochester Riverside, as for much of its post 20th Century history, it was dominated and defined by tall cranes, loading and offloading from the various wharfs. However, a single 200tonne crane was retained & moved to this new position at Blue Boar Hard as a landmark and heritage beacon. Our journey for Phase 3 starts here.
Crane Point is the name for the public realm and viewing point under the shadow of the crane. The landscape has been designed by LUC as an Amphitheatre with precast concrete stepped seating and concrete paving extending around and beneath the crane. A large Apartment block is being built adjacent to the public space, which will look out over the crane and the River Medway.
Children swam from here…Blue Boar Wharf was our playground…
Crane Point – or Blue Boar Hard as it was called in its former life, is the end point of Blue Boar Lane, terminating with a Pier. It starts at its junction with Rochester High Street and the Blue Boar Public House (now demolished), leading under the railway tracks towards the river. At one time, the road split in two, with one track leading to the other side of Blue Boar Creek to James Hall & Son, Iron Foundry. Examples of their work can still be seen embedded into the pavements around Furrell’s Road. To the South of Blue Boar Creek, Blue Boar Wharf provided the river frontage for Barge Building. Up to 100 Medway Spritsail Barges were built here by William Higham. William lived on Victoria Street in Rochester and his wife had 9 children.
William Higham was also notable as a signatory to a fascinating document signed by 251 individuals connected to the Coal Trade Port of Rochester trading from Rochester Riverside on February 10th 1876 petitioning the Mayor and Corporation of the City of Rochester to review the state of the roadway of Blue Boar Lane, which was in such a poor condition it was compelling commerce to land at Chatham and not Blue Boar Hard.
“ We the undersigned Ship Owners, Merchants, Captains and others connected with the coal trade of the Port of Rochester hereby beg to call your attention to the bad state of the roadway of Blue Boar Lane leading to the River Medway and considering the large amount of traffic now going to and from the River…the present state of the road being such as to compel many to land at Chatham who would otherwise do so at Blue Boar Hard…” MALSC
Rather a lot of variations on a theme are drawn up – this is a process of discovery after all. I am often looking for something elusive. I don’t always know what I am chasing after or trying to uncover. Much of this work proves unsuitable to produce, or doesn’t fit the client brief (or budget) but nothing really ever goes to waste. Ideas unused are tucked away for another time.
The rebated letters within the cast concrete stepped units very from 5mm to 30mm deep. This allows for some expression and emphasis to be placed on certain anchor words, important for the interpretation on site. The large coloured letters are proposals for bespoke, highly detailed individual letters made of granite, enamelled steel or architectural glazed faience. These will be inset and bonded into several of the 30mm rebated capital letters, inspired by historiated initials of Illuminated Manuscripts in the Library of Rochester Cathedral.
I have had access to some amazing aerial images from Britain From Above. The following black and white images are so evocative and detailed, they tell a fascinating story of our site’s industrial and social history, nothing much of which survives today, except the large crane.
The above image from 1965 shows the Gasworks, Limehouse Wharf, Acorn Wharf (Shipbuildng) Acorn House, RMC Aggregates and Ready Made Concrete, Cory’s Wharf (Coal), Chatham Goods Yard (Railways), Blue Boar Wharf, Furrell’s Wharf – almost all the way to Chatham Intra. So much to be inspired by…
I am collaborating with LUC and BPTW who are leading on the architecture, masterplanning and landscape design.
I am continuing to develop the work I created for Phases 1 & 2 as the site has endless riches to be inspired by. My problem is knowing where to stop the research. Each stone unturned has golden threads to follow. Contextually, we are now on the site of Blue Boar Wharf, in its heyday a major Barge Building site, with two Yards, Upper and Lower occupied by two businesses – William Higham, ran the Upper Yard, where he built 100 Barges between 1876 and 1901 & George Weedon the proprietor of the Lower Yard.
Above: Gyproc Products (Plasterboard), started production on the Rochester Riverside site in 1933, just 3 years prior to this images from 1936 (the large white shed in the centre of the picture). Cory’s Wharf, with its ‘5 Cranes Dancing’, is in the foreground.
Above: The coming of the railways in the 1840’s effectively separated the town from its salt marsh grazing pastures and community centred around The Common. The Cattle & Livestock Market – seen bottom left in this image from 1936 has rooftop graphics – advertising its products – probably for the benefit of train passengers, as the track was raised on an earthen bank and brick viaduct. ‘Thorley’s Food for Cattle’, & ‘Thorley’s Food for all Stock’.
Above: This Postcard must be a very early image of the site, as there appears to be no industrial development of the Riverside site.
There is a great short film on You Tube called the Medway Dock Crane, which show the Blue Boar Wharf site and the whole of Rochester Riverside, prior to development by Countryside as seen from a drone. Click on the above link to view.
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.
I’m travelling up north to Bolton this week to see the final units completed and hopefully sign off the work so it can be delivered to Rochester Riverside for installation. Can’t wait to see them all.
Above: “BLUE BOAR CREEK”…& other tales from Rochester Riverside. Detail of a water-jet cut & laser-etched paving panel in black Carlow Limestone with inset text of Amarelo Real (yellow granite) & Porphyry.
These new images are just in this afternoon thanks to Mathew Haslam of Hardscape – as their skilled stone specialists 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.This highly bespoke work needs to be handled with care and demands high levels of craft skills.
Hardscape have been excellent at providing this form creative collaboration. Public Art Strategy & Artists Commissions by FrancisKnight .
Below: This unit is 9 of 15 – ‘SHELDUCK’, a Kobra Green Granite base slab with water jet cut inset motif & text in black Carlow Limestone, which has been laser etched with surface detail. Further sandblasting of text into the green granite, will complete the work.
Above: The almost completed ‘WILLIAM CORY & SON LTD’.
Above: This is the base slab of black Carlow Limestone, which has been laser etched first & then water jet cut – but the large letter ‘W’, the ‘&’ and the diamond motif have yet to be chiselled out. See Below –
Above: The water jet cutting removes a series of lines from the granite, which are determined by the CAD programme, which creates the cutting paths. These pathways are interesting in themselves as patterns, but in this instance they have to be chiselled out carefully by hand, to create the void space for the granite inlay to be fixed.
Above: This images shows the void spaces chiselled out from the Carlow Limestone. The letter ‘W’ in Maple Red granite has already been inset and is awaiting bonding in place – the diamond motif is just about to be inset. These images are wonderful for showing process, craft and the mix of skills from CAD technology to work by hand & eye.
In June 2019 I was issued with early draft plans for the public realm proposals at the Station by LDS Architects on behalf of Winchester City Council. I proposed to add a layer of creative interpretation to these plans, based on my contextual research and employ the setting out details within the LDS plan as a secure foundation into which I could set my public art concept drafts. My proposal was always going to be about utilising the need for paving, seating, retaining walls and other practical details of public realm highways engineering to keep visual clutter at a minimum. This would also be more economic in terms of budget use and future management and maintenance.
Above: The Station building is on the left of this plan drawing (as seen from above). The plan for the public realm is primarily a sequence of parallel horizontal bands (green) delineated in the paving, which flow downhill from the Station towards City Road and another series which flow uphill along Station Road. However, this baseline geometry is combined with a radial pattern (also in green) which expresses the radius curve in the highway as it transitions from Station Road to Station Hill. This radial pattern provides the anchor for a series of seats (red) and secondary barrier structures (blue). These are concept ideas only – and not designs.
Above: This concept study shows a series of interrelated structures – which could be seating, walls, barrier structures or paving – set out in a radial pattern. These forms are presented as interpretive devices which exhibit combinations of materials and motifs, which seen together in this way embody ideas and responses developed from the contextual research I have undertaken.
Above: The Winchester Bible is regarded as the largest & finest 12th century Illuminated Manuscript. The script is by the hand of a single monk scribe from Winchester. However, the magnificent illuminations were often drawn and painted by itinerant artists – lay professionals who travelled between monasteries and centres of learning. These Illuminated Initials have been inspirational, as has the Morley Library, of which the Winchester Bible is a part. Bishop George Morley bequeathed his collection of rare books to the Cathedral in the 17th Century. His collection is also monogrammed.
Above: Polished flint terrazzo circle with inset letter ‘W’ in Swedish Marble with sandblasted detail, resin bonded in white.
Above: Plan study (meaning ‘seen from above’)of a monolithic sandstone bench with a flat seating surface with the inset letter W and Circle motifs in flint aggregate terrazzo. Below: Sandstone & Flint are primary building materials in Winchester.
“Of particular interest is the ledger stone (memorial) of Francisca Clobery, the daughter of Sir John Clobery. She died in 1683 and her grave is in the south aisle of the Retrochoir, in front of her father’s monument. It is of a distinctive Ordovician limestone (around 465 million years ago) from the Island of Öland, Sweden, containing the straight-shelled Nautiloid.” from ‘Winchester Stone’ by Dr John Parker 2016. ‘John Parker studied geology at Birmingham and Cambridge universities. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London. For over 30 years he worked as an exploration geologist for Shell around the world. He has lived in Winchester since 1987. On retirement he trained to be a Cathedral guide’. John has personally shown me around the Cathedral and pointed out many geologic wonders and quirks.
Above: Studies for objects (seating?) in Timber, Sandstone and Swedish Marble employing techniques of inlay, lamination, polishing and sandblasting.
Above: Study for two concept benches in monolithic black Tournai Marble with inlaid detail and laminated stone additions of Swedish Marble.
I hope to investigate manufacturing processes which allow stone to be cut, laminated, decorated and finished in a manner which embodies the richness of the Cathedral interiors and it’s ongoing repair and regeneration – BUT – in a functional manner, either as seating etc or as a method of improving wayfinding for visitors.
Here are a few images of the final artworks – it may help to know that any white used in the design does not print – and remains completely clear – bringing the outside in and extending the impact of the work to the external landscape beyond the clinical spaces. The colours also vary in transparency and opacity, so do not appear anywhere near as flat and opaque as they do in the artwork – which is a good thing right? I thinks so…
The top and bottom screen elevations work together as two adjacent spaces, where the designs overlap. Anything printed white here is actually completely clear and does not print. so you could imagine these two images combining with the external landscape.
I have been dropping the artwork into the glazing frames to look at balance, proportion, scale & colour.
Inspired by Jurassic plant fossils, drafts & designs for discussion & comment by the project team & NHS Trusts are coming together in the studio. If successful these will be digitally printed onto glazing vinyl for the Radiotherapy Unit on the ground floor of the Robert White Cancer Centre based at Dorset County Hospital. These services are delivered by Poole Hospital as part of the wider county wide Cancer Services. The project is a collaboration between various agencies including Arts in Hospital & Poole Hospital Charity.
These artworks are presented as long elevations of ground to ceiling windows, but in reality they are a series of interlinked screens at angles to one another. For example, the External Lobby Entrance Screen will be seen through the Clothed Waiting Room Screen.
Above & Below: These are the interior views of glazed screens as they are at the moment. The Staff Meeting Room is overlooked by an unappealing brick wall & stepped access to a public footpath, which is at a higher level creating privacy issues. In the artwork designs, all areas in white will be either transparent glazing or opaque printed vinyl, allowing in light, but not views by the public. The Clothed Waiting Room and Reception area glass screens look out onto the ground floor external paved concourse linking this building to the Main Hospital and adjacent Canteen. The artwork screens will provide much needed privacy from the ground floor pedestrian areas outside and hopefully some peaceful distraction for patients coming regularly into the Radiotherapy unit.
Samples of the designs will be digitally printed at full scale and installed in the Radiotherapy Unit for further comment and confirmation that the outcome is what is desired by staff and patients.
Above: These five rooms are linked via a corridor. I have shown them as a single open space – but in reality, each is a separate private clinic room or office.
In 2001, was commissioned by Elizabeth Smith, the Public Arts Officer for Southampton City Council to collaborate with the project client Barratt Homes, to create an interpretive landscape artwork for the central courtyard of the former Dell Football ground. The Dell was demolished in 2001 by Hughes and Salvidge. I was able to visit the ground to document the site just before this process began and just after the last game had been played.
“a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and lofty aspens” Philip Brannon 1850
“On 19 May 2001, midfielder Matt Le Tissier, (who retired from playing a year later) said goodbye to the stadium that had been host to his entire professional career by scoring a volley in the final minutes of the final league game securing a 3–2 win against. Le Tissier has the distinction of scoring the last competitive goal at The Dell. On 26 May, the club’s fans said goodbye to the Dell by stripping all of its seats, the pitch and even an advertising board after Southampton’s last game at the stadium, a 1-0 victory in a friendly against Brighton & Hove Albion, the first and last opponents at the stadium. The last goal ever scored at the Dell was by Uwe Rosler”. Wikipedia
“The final league goal witnessed by the Dell was Le Tissier’s 89th-minute winner against Arsenal, a fitting tribute from the forward to his home for 16 years and to the fans who could not imagine life without him. Club fortunes fluctuate, players come and go but Le Tissier has infected those who have witnessed his feats on the south coast and their worshipping will go on long after his boots are finally hung up”. The Guardian 21st May 2001
‘The site on which the ground was built was described in Philip Brannon’s Picture of Southampton, published in 1850, as “a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and lofty aspens”. The stream is the Rollsbrook which flows out of Southampton Common, running parallel to Hill Lane before disappearing under Commercial Road and Southampton Central Station, from where it is conduited under Southampton Docks into Southampton Water.
The land had been purchased in the 1880s by the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway to enable them to continue their line from Winchester via Twyford, Chandlers Ford, a tunnel at Chilworth and Shirley where it was to pass to the North East of what is nowSt James’ Park, Southampton and St James’ Church. From here the line would have travelled south across Hill Lane to run through the dell and onto an embankment leading to a viaduct over Commercial Road and the London and South Western Railway line before terminating on the Western Esplanade North of the Royal Pier.
The dell was stripped of vegetation and the stream channelled into a conduit with work started on the embankment, which survives behind property to the North of Commercial Road but was never used, and the viaduct which was part built but later demolished.’ Wikipedia
I wanted to recreate this idea of ‘a lovely dell with a gurgling stream and trees’, as well as represent something important about the history of football and of Southampton FC on this site. It appeared that the centre circle of the pitch was exactly where the stream had originally passed through and was now culverted underground. The radius of the centre circle on a football pitch is 9.15m. My design reflects this. The centre spot is in exactly the same space it would have been on any match day. 11 trees are planted around the circumference to reflect the squad of 11 who would have played each game. The raw cast concrete retaining walls, steps and planting beds retain something of the look and feel of the original football terraces. Several bespoke cast terrazzo benches with white aggregate in a red cement matrix face into the centre. These reflect the club colours.
The most notable detail is the textured low-relief elevation exposed around the centre circle. This is the stud print of Matt Le Tissier’s right football boot – or so I was led to believe. We contacted the club during this project and this was the boot I was sent. I so want to believe it. I wore the boot to make the original mould, by running over a bed of clay. I still have it. The idea was to recreate and remember the raw play and boots on muddy ground which embodies the spirit of play.
I approached Patterns & Moulds Ltd, a fantastic company, I have since worked with on several projects. Established in 1967, Patterns & Moulds remains the largest independent and privately owned mould maker in the UK.
Turf had been stripped off the pitch by fans eager to take a piece of footballing history home with them.
Above: All the concrete works were delivered in-situ, with timber formwork constructed on site. The concrete retaining structures and curving walls created a series of interlinked paths and terraces, which were then backfilled with soil or compacted gravels to create the finished terrace levels. The Matt Le Tissier stud-print concrete feature relief-wall was also cast in-situ on site with bespoke rubber moulds and timber formwork. The raw, unfinished concrete surfaces emulated the original hard terrace construction at the Dell Football ground.
Above: Elizabeth Smith, Public Arts Officer, Southampton City Council 1998 – 2011, talking with the Project Site Manager.
Above & Below: The Rollsbrook Stream was re-imagined as a shallow rill flowing through the courtyard.
On Tuesday 19th March 2019, the screens were carefully installed by SEH Commercial. The East Screen was installed in the morning and the North Screen in the afternoon. Proto Glass Studiosdelivered the 18 sealed units – a total of 42 sqm of decorated glass – in two runs from their premises in Pewsey, Wiltshire. I couldn’t be there, which was a real disappointment, but the process was documented by a number of people on site. I am showing their images here.
There is still a fair amount of work to be done in finishing the new buildings, both inside & out, so for now and the foreseeable future at least, the glass will be covered by boards & protected. These are the last images we will see before the building is officially opened.
This project has been a great journey to make in collaboration with a wonderful project team. Hetty Dupays, director of Art at the Heart of the RUHwho commissioned the work has been a most supportive project manager. Also a big thanks to Gina Sargeant,Head of Therapies & Clinical Site, whose direct and pragmatic approach was balanced by her humour. I could not have delivered this artwork without the input and advocacy of both these brilliant people. A massive thanks to all staff and patients from both the RUH and RHNRD (The Min), IBI Group Architects& Main Contractor Kierwho collaborated throughout, and who offered their support and experience.
The external wall elevations and frames are still in progress, as are the interiors and the Screens will be padded out and boarded up from today, to protect them during the remaining works on site.