FrancisKnight is fourteen years old!

We are celebrating our fourteenth birthday this month and have been looking back through the archives.  We found this fab picture of us, courtesy of Louise's daughter, that shows us in the early stages of the company.  Not sure about my purple hair but we look so young!  We are certainly busy with all the paper work lined up on the desk and of course as always we are loving our work.  Happy Birthday to us. 

FK at work 1 1

A good year for Pinot Noir

It's the end of an era for me and my allotment of 12 years and I have to say goodbye to my vine that I eagerly planted on the plot so many years ago.  

This vine started its life as part of the award winning Chatham Vines, a commission that FrancisKnight worked on with artist John Newling.  The commission saw the installation and nurture of a vineyard of 32 Pinot Noir Vines grown hydroponically in St John's Church, Chatham. At the end of the commission the vines were given out to the community to take them home and plant them in their gardens.

I have taken care of my vine, I've pruned it, fed it and encouraged it to grow. This year it has flourished, enjoying the weather and providing me with one of the best seasons of bunches and bunches of juicy red grapes.

The vine will now stay in place for the next allotment plot holder who will take on the stewardship and continue to encourage and appreciate it.

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During April and May we organised and delivered an 'Aspirations' activity for Kent based charity Porchlight.   The activity follows on from our Lost Room Project which explored the relationship people have to belongings.  Continuing with this theme we were delighted to bring artist Nicola Flower back on board to run creative workshops under the title of 'Belongings'.    

During the Friday morning activities at Involve, a charity working at the heart of the community in Maidstone, participants brought in their own personal belongings and were encouraged to share their memories and stories.  Nicola worked with the group to explore drawing, textiles, collage and illustration, culminating in each participant making their own individual puppet. 

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Photographs by Manu Palomeque


Art for the Elizabeth Line

On one of our regular trips to London we took some time out to visit The Whitechapel Gallery to see Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line.  This exhibition revealed the artists' ideas for new public art due to be unveiled across London from December 2018, commissioned by the Crossrail Art Foundation. A bit like a bus man's holiday for us, but none the less fascinating to see sketches and maquettes by British and international artists.  

That afternoon we were due to meet Price & Myers to discuss the Light Artwork being developed by Esther Rolinson for Rochester Riverside so it was good to see their name on the drawings produced by Yoyoi Kusama for her installation at Liverpool Street.  Good to know we're in safe hands.

With the Rochester Riverside commissions on our mind we were drawn to the neon works inspired from 1960s Soho by Gordon Young and the bronze and aluminium boiler plated texts by Damon Almond.  We particularly like the drawings by Conrad Shawcross with the note: "Dear Mum, For your 60th birthday.  All my love to you and thank you for everything. Conrad"  Although mum obviously had to loan it back to the Whitechapel Gallery for the exhibition! On until 6th May, catch it if you can. 




The Painted Hall Ceiling Tour

 It is one of the biggest conservation projects in Europe and Britain's largest painted ceiling by British artist Sir James Thornhill, who undertook the work from 1707 - 1726.

We took the painted hall ceiling tour at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich to get up close to the work that is being undetaken by a team of conservators.

Architect Nicholas Hawksmoor designed the hall of the Royal building as a grand dining room for the Naval pensioners.  Little known artist Thornhill took on the work as his first major commission, negotiating a fee of £1 per square yard for the walls and £3 per square yard for the ceilings.  Athough this sounds like a good fee for the 17th Century, Thornhill would take 19 years to complete the work. (If only he had had a public art consultancy to negotiate his daily rate). Over this period he would have to rethink the design several times due to the changing political landscape. Thornhill appears in the painting, pointing to his work.    

Our guide Marilyn led the group up the scaffolding 60 feet from floor level to an observation platform, where we could see at first hand the work being undertaken to restore this magnificent painting.  The rich colour and vibrancy is evident from the restored areas that have been affected by smoke and dirt. It will take the conservationists over 2 years to clean with the project due to complete in 2019.  It is thought that it should not need any further intervention for the next 100 years. 

Here are a few highlights: 

Painted hall 10    the painted hall    Painted hall 3 

Painted hall 4    Painted hall 5    Painted hall 8

Painted hall 6   Painted hall 7    Painted hall 11    

The conservationists palatte                     Sir James Thornhill

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