FrancisKnight were appointed by Design South East (formerly Kent Architecture Centre) to project manage URBAN Fringe.
URBAN Fringe was a pilot project by Kent Architecture Centre to commission four artists to capture and explore the relationships between artists, place and communities - their values and customs.
Artists Simon Barker, Nayan Kulkarni, Jo Roberts and Stephen Turner were commissioned to work in the 'fringes' of Medway and Swale developing celebratory interventions and community engagement with the communities who lived there.
Our role was to work with the artists to develop and support them during the commission period, giving them time and space to produce the work, open up networks and attract audiences to the community events.
At the community events drawings, maps, photography, pressed flowers, ‘essence’ testing and a film screening were explored to broaden the idea of ‘place’ beyond the physical and to help communities think more intuitively about their area, and the connection to regeneration and change.
Artist Commission - Jo Roberts
'A Personal Survey of the Urban Fringe in the region of the Deckle Edges'
Jo Roberts thinks of herself as an explorer, someone who mediates, ponders, portrays or records. Drawing is fundamental to her practice, whilst continuously exploring methods of communication.
For URBAN Fringe Jo immersed herself in Medway and Swale conducting her own personal survey by bicycle, travelling around the areas, asking local people where the Urban Fringe might be located.
Jo studied, identified and determined the fringe areas recording her journeys though hand drawn maps creating 70 maps of the day that she posted via twitter. 67 wild flowers were also collected and pressed to create her own Urban Fringe Herbarium collection.
Jo defined her Fringe community by exploring Twitter, “I decided early on that I wanted to explore the Fringelands using Twitter and the community that use that, so I followed people and organisations based in North Kent”.
For the community engagement events Jo exhibited her work with Stephen Turner.
Artist Commission - Stephen Turner
Stephen Turner’s work is concerned with aspects of time and the dynamic between transience and permanence. His work often involves spending long periods in odd, abandoned places noting changes in the complex relationship between nature and the man-made.
For URBAN Fringe Stephen took on the guise of an Urban Fringe adventurer, taking a number of journeys across the fringe lands of Medway and Swale, observing, surveying and contrasting the natural environment with that of the waste disposal and processing that take place within the urban landscape.
Stephen invited the Women Artists of Green Street (The WAGS) to work with him and they visited Rochester Riverside; focusing on the locally distinctive flora and contrasting it with abandoned evidence of human occupation as well as fly tipped rubbish which was a feature of Milton Creek.
“My work set out to explore how we live with nature at the edges by focusing on over consumption and waste management through a faux-product, an Eau de Bordure, which raises questions about the ‘essence’ of the edge."
For the community engagement events Stephen created an essence testing activity for the public.
'Journeys and Reflections around the edges of Medway and Swale'
A joint exhibition by Jo Roberts and Stephen Turner at the University for the Creative Arts Gallery, Chatham. The multi-media exhibition focused on drawing, maps, photography, video and pressed flowers.
'Eau de Bordure' - a new essence.
Stephen Turner invited the public to take part in testing a new essence called Eau de Bordure a distilled plant oil made from local flora. Participants were surveyed on how the scent made them feel - to what if any memories they evoked.
A twin channel 16 minute film (Blu-Ray, DVD, You-Tube) that portrayed the communities of Medway Gate and Medway Bridge Marina, Borstal.
A community screening took place on Light Vessel 16, docked at Borstal Marina and the Medway Marina Bar.
Artist Commission - Nayan Kulkarni
Nayan Kulkarni is a multimedia artist whose work engages with ideas of site specificity, time, technology and perception. These themes are manifested in work that is generated from specific concepts, processes or places. Nayan uses sound, video, photography, text and performance in his practice.
During the early stages of the URBAN Fringe project Nayan Kulkarni and Simon Barker realised that they shared similar values and interests in terms of their practice. Conversations between both artists started discussions that led to their collaboration on Urban Fringe.
As Nayan said, “We both work in fields where collaboration takes place. It has allowed us to pursue a more ambitious and complex project than either could have achieved alone, and which contains rich potential for further development”.
Both artists spent time focused on two distinct areas in Medway, exploring the landscape in and between Medway Bridge Marina and Medway Gate Housing development. Both were struck by the very different ways that people live in these particular places in Medway and Strood, the effects of the Road and Railway Bridges on the environment and the powerful influence of the river.
This time together and the artists shared interest in cinematic narrative, architecture and landscape informed the production of a short film for the project. ‘Recorded Delivery’ explores the road and rail bridge, public spaces, community activity, layered local commercial enterprise, cultural exchange, celebration and a sense of place.
For the community engagement events a film screening of "Recorded Delivery" was shown at Borstal Marina.
Artist Commission - Simon Barker
Artist and architect Simon Barker uses sound, video, photography, text, installation and drawing in his practice.
For URBAN Fringe Simon wanted to continue to explore his recent interest in the Medway crossing bridges at Borstal/Strood and the intriguing landscape that they defined beneath them. Collaborating with artist Nayan Kulkarni extended this interest beyond the bridges to the communities that they linked on each side of the river, specifically the recent Medway Gate Development on the Strood side and the established settlement of houseboats at Safety Bay on the Borstal side of the river.
Through the making of the film 'Recorded Delivery', Simon Barker and Nayan Kulkarni worked closely with the community of Medway Marina, Borstal. This community actively took part in the making of the film as actors and in giving access to locations for filming. The sound track for the film was created from an organised ‘blues night’ at the local Medway Marina Bar.
Simon reflects, “We did not define the term ‘Fringe community’. Rather, we researched the locations in Medway and Strood that interested us. The people we met informed the way we approached making the artwork. The conversations that we had not only created the context for the film but also generated the basis through which we could develop new works and projects in this place”.
For the community engagement events a film screening of 'Recorded Delivery" was shown at the Borstal Marina.