Summer Newsletter 2019
Image Credits: Photograph by Stephen Garnett
Welcome to our Summer newsletter The variety offered by working on different projects at different stages makes the role of a Public Art Consultant always fresh and exciting. In this issue, we continue our mission to demystify the creative process, with insights from photographic artist Mary Woolf, who will be designing the 18 boundary signs as part of our commission for Craven District Council with Great Places Lakes & Dales. Sharing the secrets of successful collaborative working, we have an interview with artist Chris Tipping and
architects BPTW, who are working on the public art development in Phases 1 and 2 of Rochester Riverside regeneration with Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd and The Hyde Group.
Have a good summer. We canâ€™t wait to bring you further updates in the future.
And welcoming the warmer days (!) we invite you to travel back in time at Springfield Mill, where we are working with Redrow Homes and Lead Artist Kerry Lemon on a series of Public Art Commissions for this site that is rich with heritage, to discover historic buttons and buckles from the pathway around the millpond.
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Laura and Louise. Directors
Image Credits: Photograph of Mary Woolf by Stephen Garnett.
Light, colour and the Yorkshire Dales landscape Photographic artist Mary Woolf shares her creative process Photographic artist Mary Woolf has been commissioned by FrancisKnight on behalf of Craven District Council and Great Places Lakes and Dales to design boundary signage, which will be installed in September 2019 in time for the World Road Cycling Championships which will be passing through the district. We asked Mary to tell us what motivates her practice and why research is such an important part of this process. A photographic artist currently living and working in Settle, North Yorkshire, Mary moved to Horton-inRibblesdale in 2016 after achieving a first class honours degree in photographic arts from the University of Westminster. Mary’s work explores ideas surrounding perception and experience, in addition to pushing the boundaries of photography as a medium. She says, “My aim is to inspire people to look closer at their surroundings - to take more notice of the experience of being in a place.” Her creative process always starts with research. “My art comes from an informed background, and my research encompasses a wide
range of sources of inspiration and information, from academic essays to popular culture. Part of what motivates me as an artist is my desire to learn, and to share my experience of the world. This inspired my 2016 Yorkshire Dales series, which was awarded the Travers Smith CSR Art Prize. It took me a year to only fractionally share my experience of living in Horton-in-Ribblesdale for seven months, and the research resulted in other projects inspired by the shifting light and colours of the unique landscape, shaping my current creative processes.” Mary continues, “I started questioning my relationship to photography and to this landscape. I began questioning the nature of photography itself: what a photograph actually is. Light and colour are one and the same: light cannot exist without colour and colour cannot exist without light. What we see as colour is the process of light interacting with everything around it. A photograph, by definition, is light captured and recorded by a photo-sensitive (lightsensitive) surface. In my case the photo-sensitive surface was the sensor in my digital camera. So if you were to isolate the colours out of the information from a digital camera’s sensor, you are still making photographs, but not in the way we
have come to expect. Using these ideas I worked digitally to create what became the series ‘The Yorkshire Dales’. I built up these images that portrayed my experience of this landscape by drawing out the colours that I noticed. It was almost like digital screen printing on top of a photograph, building up these layers of colours.” This has become Mary’s philosophy for creating her photographic art. “It is why I say my art is rooted in the photographic, even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface, and why I insist on being called a photographic artist, not a photographer. Since moving to the Dales, I have continued working on representing the place using this philosophy of image making, including the boundary signage project.” The first public showing of some of this new work will be as part of Mary’s first solo exhibition in Gallery on the Green, in Settle, July to September 2019. Read the extended version of this article.
Image Credits: Work by Chris Tipping
How do artists and architects collaborate? To celebrate the London Festival of Architecture, we decided to delve deeper into the working processes of award-winning Lead Artist Chris Tipping and BPTW, a multi awardwinning architectural practice, who are currently collaborating with FrancisKnight on the £400 million development for Rochester Riverside with Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd and The Hyde Group. We are grateful to both Chris Tipping and Peter Sofoluke (Associate at BPTW) for sharing their experience. Have you worked with architects before on public art projects? Chris: Many times. Being brought in early allows for a more critically creative exchange, although it is by no means always an easy path to take. Success isn’t always measured in outcomes. Process is where true collaboration can be measured and outcome is affected by many things not always in the control of the artist or the architect. Have you worked with artists before on public art projects? BPTW: Yes, on a number of regeneration projects. Sometimes
within our industry the value of public art elements can be overlooked as an unnecessary expense, but we believe it adds so much to placemaking, whether through interventions that enhance a user’s experience of public space, art strategies that assist with wayfinding, or installations that help create and reinforce the identity of an area. It’s great to be working with Countryside and Hyde, who value this, and FrancisKnight have involved us in the selection and appointment of artists. How does the collaborative process work on a practical level? Chris: Clarity in discussing scope and practical parameters, like the supply of plans, drawings and technical specifications, are balanced with conversations about aesthetics and concept. Marrying client needs inherent within a complex housing development at scale, such as Rochester Riverside, can’t be easy for an architect to navigate, whilst building in their own vision and aesthetic. Artists may challenge this, whilst perhaps being unaware of the underlying drivers. BPTW have been critical - as have FrancisKnight - in restraining my creative impulse to overproduce. This hopefully has
produced a softly resonant and beautifully crafted suite of objects and interpretive artworks to embed within the site. BPTW: We engaged with FrancisKnight and Chris in several workshop sessions and were able to communicate key elements of the masterplan proposal, which identified areas for public art. Chris’s research revealed forgotten crafts and trades which could be subtly reimagined in the form of interventions to brick boundary walls, public realm paving and other elements of the scheme. Seeing samples of the cast iron paving panels was especially rewarding and will add an interesting narrative to the regeneration of the area. Our design of the homes and buildings at Rochester Riverside has been greatly influenced by an understanding of the history of the site and surroundings, and it was great to develop this sense of place further across the scheme with Chris. We look forward to seeing it all realised. Read the extended version of this article.
Hunting for buttons at Springfield Mill Redrow Homes appointed FrancisKnight to produce a Public Art Delivery Plan for Springfield Mill, a new residential development of 295 new homes on the edge of Maidstone town centre. This is a site of considerable historic significance. Founded in 1805 by William Balston, Springfield Mill was the first papermaking mill to be successfully powered solely by steam. Our Lead Artist for this exciting project is internationally commissioned Kerry Lemon, whose work includes painting, drawing, editorial, publishing, advertising, retail, public realm and architectural projects. Kerry is developing ideas to ensure the artworks and planned
Heritage Trail will sympathetically highlight and reinterpret some elements from the site and embed them into the new development, including the retention of a Grade II listed building, the Rag Room, Chimney and Grade II listed beam from the 1806 Boulton and Watt beam engine. Her in-depth research utilises local museum and archive collections to explore the history, culture and landscape of the site. During a recent site visit to Springfield Mill, we collected historic buttons from the Button Walk, the pathway around the millpond where buttons were discarded after being removed from textiles in the Rag House, before the female workers cut the rags into
pieces for fibre beating, ready for the paper creation. It was amazing how many buttons, buckles and clasps were just lying on the ground around the millpond. These historically significant buttons will feature in an artwork for the site. For more information, Simon Williams has produced a fascinating behind the scenes film. Click on the link to view: http://www.francisknight.co.uk/ developments/springfield-mill Thanks to Jackie Winder for use of the archive image of the Rag Sorting Department at Springfield Mill.
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The Summer 2019 Newsletter from award-winning Public Art Consultancy FrancisKnight.