image: Mary Woolf
Louise Francis: 07956 437242
Laura Knight: 07855 180004
image: Mary Woolf
Appointed by Medway Council to work on the £4 million government funded Chatham Placemaking Project to help regenerate the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront, we commissioned furniture designer maker Andrew Lapthorn to produce a series of benches to create a strong sense of place. The benches were the outcome of a collaboration with the project’s Lead Artist, Chris Tipping, whose base designs and concept of using granite and wood informed Andrew’s detailed designs for the timber elements of six beautifully crafted benches. A Member of the Society of Designer Craftsmen, Andrew Lapthorn, who creates unique designs, predominantly working in wood, from his workshop in the grounds of the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, completed his studies in Furniture, Fine Craftsmanship and Design in 1981 at Rycotewood College, Thame, having spent his early career at sea and working as a shipwright. He runs his own business making bespoke furniture, as well as lecturing part time at the Furniture Craft School, Scotney Castle Estate.
We spoke to Andrew about his creative process.
FK: What is special about working with wood that draws you as a designer?
AL: The multitude of textures, finishes and forms achievable through a wide range of disciplines and techniques using the same basic toolkit. Albeit architectural structures in oak or feathery inlays using fruitwoods, box or holly, once you have an understanding of the material it presents boundless opportunities.
FK: What role does research play in your work, and was this important in the Chatham Placemaking commission?
AL: Certainly, research is most important. It takes you to unexpected places and ultimately, therein lies the design. It defines the pathway of the design process while instinct and intuition is your guide as that pathway divides and subdivides. For me it not only informs the work and gives it meaning, but just as importantly, it is an education.
FK: Does the space within which the design is situated influence the form?
I would suggest it is the opposite. Though each bench is a condensation of a wider space, a memoir if you like, it is the form that influences the space around it. While the sphere of influence is ordinarily within range of the senses it is the intangible presence, the spirit of the piece, which permeates its surroundings, influencing them in incalculable ways.
FK: Thanks, Andrew, for sharing your insight. It has been a joy to work with all the artists on this amazing placemaking project. Collaboration and teamwork is what makes the role of a Public Art Consultant so exciting and satisfying.
For more information about the Chatham Placemaking project, including fascinating films, go to http://www.francisknight.co.uk/public-realm/chatham-placemaking-masterplan
On Tuesday 2 July, pupils from St Margaret’s at Troy Town Church of England Primary School participated in an exciting and ambitious creative workshop with artist Katayoun Dowlatshahi as part of the public art strategy produced by award-winning public art consultancy FrancisKnight for the Rochester Riverside Development with Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd and The Hyde Group.
The workshop’s ethos was to raise awareness of the natural environment which is particular and special to Medway, linking the natural and urban. Katayoun, who has been commissioned by FrancisKnight to produce a bespoke artwork for the Rochester Riverside development, worked with groups of pupils from Class 5, who enjoyed building a large, triangular bug house using a range of natural materials including willow. The children also decorated the bughouse using Cyanotype ‘sun printing’, a photographic printing process that uses light to create a silhouette effect and produces a cyan-blue print. They used their design skills to apply designs to the surface of the Ash wood with natural materials to print in the sun. Each pupil was also given a small circle of wood to apply their own design to keep and take home.
Katayoun reflected on the workshop saying, “They were a delightful group of Year 5 pupils who were enthusiastic about the project, making my job as an artist facilitator so much easier. I loved the fact that some pupils developed their ideas on a micro level, creating bug scale windows, ladders, entrances and even a curved stair case going into the main bug hotel. They were brimming with imagination.”
The triangular bug house will be housed permanently at the school.
Ms Jobling, St Margaret’s at Troy Town Headteacher commented: “The Year 5 pupils are particularly creative and they thoroughly enjoyed working with Katayoun handling different materials and tools to create our magnificent bug house. It will be located in the garden at the entrance of our school to be enjoyed by children and parents. The bug house encourages our biodiversity and contributes to our whole school eco efforts.”
Katayoun’s artwork, inspired by the salt marsh plants found at Rochester Riverside will be located in bespoke seating and wall features located in Station Square and along the River Walk in Phase 1 and 2 of the development.
Landscape, placemaking and buttons!
Our Summer Newsletter is out now, and focusses on the importance of collaboration and research in producing amazing public art which connects with cultural heritage in local communities. We hope you enjoy the fascinating interviews and insights.
Click to read more https://issuu.com/francisknight/docs/fk_summer_newsletter
Have a great summer!
(image credit: work by Chris Tipping)
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