The Bentley Library Chair was part of the Right Up Our Street (RUOS) Project, which is part of Arts Council, England’s Creative People and Places Fund. As part of the RUOS funding, every artist involved has to keep an artist’s diary, write progress reports and an evaluation report once the project is finished. I’ve just submitted my final report and wanted to share a few of the comments we got at the launch of the Bentley Chair at Bentley Library. They make me really proud to have been a part of this fantastic and successful project (I honestly didn’t bribe anyone for these comments!)…
“Never been so impressed in something in all of my life, and when you see your work among it… wow”
“It’s absolutely fantastic. Brings the community together – an absolute pleasure for all!”
“What a fabulous piece of community work. It got everyone talking and evoked a lot of memories. A thing to treasure, lots of memories for young and old.”
“I really think the chair is absolutely beautiful and I feel proud being part of it.”
“I think it’s amazing- I’m so pleased. My grandson’s drawing is on the front. It would look the business in my new kitchen!”
I was asked quite early on in the project what the point of the chair was (which I thought was a really good question) and at the time felt that creativity, teamwork, ownership, engagement, pride and self belief were some of the main reasons for doing the project. I think that these comments show that this was achieved – well done everyone for taking that leap of faith and believing we could make this brilliant piece of art – who said a canvas had to be square!
It’s a while ago now but over the summer I worked with some brilliant schools to produce drawings, monoprints, collages and paintings all based on the buildings and landmarks of Hyde. Some of the artwork produced can be seen in a previous post here.
I had the humungous task of scanning all the artwork (which totaled over 300 pieces) and then creating a 20 metre long frieze from it all for permanent installation in Clarendon Square Shopping Centre. The final artwork was printed on a matte vinyl and installed by myself and Chris from Sign Solutions Plus. Being 20 metres long and on a corridor wall it was fairly hard to photograph but here are some images of the final artwork.
Over the last couple of weeks, myself and Richard Dawson (Arbarus) have been working on a series of creative workshops for our RSPB Ribble Rediscovered commission. Aimed at determining what wildlife and subjects should be included within the final pieces of sculpture, we worked with young people, the public and the brilliant RSPB volunteers making lots of brilliant artwork and chatting about the interesting wildlife that can be found on the Ribble Estuary, what the important and notable species are for the area and what lives in all that mud!
We did a special mud-dip workshop whereby we looked at the species that live in the mud and provide food for the thousands of birds that visit and live in the area. From this we created block prints of the hydrobia snails, crabs, rag worms and also the birds that eat them, making a brilliant frieze of artwork on brown paper.
We also rocked up to the 20 year anniversary event of the Ribble Discovery Centre and chatted to lots of knowledgeable people about the birds and wildlife found on the estuary. The three others artists involved in the commission were also there – Bryony Purvis, Rebecca Chesney and Sophy King.
Next job – design the final artwork ready for approval by the RSPB, the volunteers and steering group and Fylde Council…
Richard Dawson of Arbarus and myself have finally got the Bromley Farm cast stone artwork installed! Consisting of three ‘totems’, the artwork was designed by young people from Bromley Farm in Congleton and features their artwork and cast hand shapes. The artwork spells out ‘Bromley Farm Community Centre’, with each letter created by taking a subject or item relevant to the area and incorporating this within it’s design. For example, the ‘B’ features a bear’s paw, which comes from a local story regarding a dancing bear.
The young people came up with the idea and created the original lettering in a series of creative workshops over the summer. Molds were then taken from their artwork to turn it into cast-stone panels to fit within the three pillars.
Richard Dawson (Arbarus) and I have been lucky enough to win a commission to create some public art for the RSPB Ribble Reserve in Lytham St. Annes. Ribble Discovery Centre is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year and has commissioned five artists to create permanent art for the area surrounding the centre and Fairhaven Lake, which is sited next to the estuary.
The Ribble Estuary is the most important single river estuary in the UK and attracts over 270,00 birds each year, with some notable species being the Wigeon, the Dunlin and the Pink-Footed Goose.
Richard and I are going to create one feature piece of art and several smaller pieces that form part of a trail around Fairhaven Lake. These will all be in the format of a steel wing with cut-out elements providing information and silhouetted shapes. These will be decided in consultation with the public, RSPB volunteers and the Centre’s steering group at a number of workshops.
I’ll have some more photos from the first of our workshops (which is today) but in the meantime, here’s a view of the estuary, with my dog doing a spot of photo-bombing and Richard taking a proper photo on the left!
Our next workshop will be on Saturday 24th August at the Ribble Festival between 11am and 4pm. All the artists will be there to meet and discuss the proposed artwork.
Last week, myself and Richard Dawson spent a very wet Monday installing a memorial bench (Richard’s work) and then some withy bees (my work) for the RSPB up at Dove Stone Reservoir in Saddleworth.
Kate from the RSPB came along to help. Bonnie, one of her dogs, thought the best place by far to sit was on top of me, whilst I was keeping the base of the bench in place. At this point, I’m slightly worried that all the other dogs are going to think the same thing!
I’ve just arrived back from installing an origami piece in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. Hot on the tails of completing my London commission, I was asked to create an origami installation for Pacific Place, an upmarket shopping mall on Hong Kong island which houses the likes of Cartier, Bulgari, Tiffany & Co and Burberry.
As the title of the installation was ‘Shoals of Prosperity’, it seemed ideal to create a large 3D fish made from thousands of small origami fish – 4876 in total. The deadline was incredibly tight, so I waved goodbye to Christmas and set about folding and folding and folding (with the help of some willing assistants – thank you Amy, Kate and Martin!).
The tricky part of the commission was to create a realistic fish shape from lots of origami hanging from fishing wire. And the fact that, due to its size, I wouldn’t be able to see the completed piece until it was installed in situ. The overall size of the fish was six metres in length by three metres wide by four metres in height and was all hung from lines of fishing wire hung from acrylic rods.
Once installed I spent three days doing lots of media interviews for newspapers, magazines and TV – more on this later. I can now say Happy Chinese New Year in both Mandarin and Cantonese!
I’ve been ridiculously busy for the past six weeks working on my mosaic commission for the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. The project started six months ago when I worked with lots of patients, staff, parents and visitors to create leaf shaped mosaics that would eventually become part of a larger piece for permanent display in the courtyard at the hospital.
After a fairly wet and chilly weekend, all the mosaics were installed on the walls and looking fantastic. We celebrated on Monday with an opening event which some of the original participants came to. We had great fun trying to find their individual mosaics from the hundred or so that were included in the final artwork.
Each ‘leaf’ shape within the mosaic artwork was made by a participant in the hospital workshops. Once I had gathered all the participants’ artwork, I spent a few days arranging and rearranging the mosaics to get all the colours and individual layouts to work. These were then transferred to larger templates and I mosaiced around the leaves to fill in the background colours. These were chosen to compliment the participants’ mosaics but also to bring some much needed greenery to the hospital courtyard.
I also kept the in-fill mosaics to a fairly simple design, with most mosaics cut in a Byzantine tile form (20mm x 10mm) and laid in a primarily Opus Classicum layout. Opus Classicum is a combination of Opus Tessellatum and Opus Vermiculatum whereby the tiles are primarily laid in a brickwork pattern with any ‘objects’ within the background surrounded by tiles following its form. This allowed the mosaic pieces to really highlight the participants’ work whilst creating a simpler background to also set them off.
Last week myself and Richard Dawson spent a day at Dove Stone Reservoir installing the new RSPB Wayfinders. Made from solid oak, with CNC’d lettering and mosaic detail, the posts have been carefully designed and created to be sympathetic to the space at the same time as being useful! The mosaics all show flora and fauna found at Dove Stone and aim to inform visitors about local wildlife.
We had beautiful weather after a very wet Friday (nice soft ground) which made for a relatively easy installation, apart from the stones and the inaccessibility of some wayfinder sites by vehicle. Thanks to Sam and Joe who came and did some excellent hole digging and lumping of heavy things! And thanks to the lovely dog walker who supplied us with some wine gums in Binn Green car park.
Having completed two sets of workshops at the Royal Brompton Hospital in June, I trotted off to London this week to pick up the final completed mosaics and to present the final designs to rb&h Arts.
For the workshops, I spent two days working with patients, visitors, staff and passers-by to develop designs and ideas for the final artwork and then two days making mosaics, using a leaf shape as a basic template. During the workshops we made over 70 mosaic leaves which will all be incorporated into the final artwork.
I also created 50 mosaic ‘packs’ for people to take away and use or for people that couldn’t make it down to the workshops. These consisted of a bag of mosaics, a leaf template on brown paper, a pot of PVA, a glue brush and a set of mosaic instructions. The packs proved really popular and they were all used which was fantastic!
I’ve created a design based on the same leaf template but at a much larger scale. Each ‘leaf’ incorporates the mosaics created during the workshops and these leaves will be displayed around the courtyard. I’ve used every single one of the mosaics made which at the last count was 93 individual pieces.
Next job – reverse the mosaics made during the workshops as these were made using the double indirect method. I’ll use the indirect method to make the larger pieces.
I also delivered some of my leaf prints to the hospital as they are being used for a small exhibition in the foyer there alongside promoting the mosaic project.
Images © rb&hArts at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust