Chatham Placemaking Project

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**Best Use of Arts, Culture or Sport in Placemaking HIGHLY COMMENDED, Planning Awards, 2020

Celebrating rich history and connecting communities to put Medway on the map

Client: Medway Council

Artists: Christopher Tipping (Lead), Xtina Lamb, Simon Wiliams, Rob Young, Andrew Lapthorn and Justin Coe. 

FrancisKnight were appointed by Medway Council to work on the Chatham Placemaking Project, a £4 million government funded public realm scheme to regenerate the route from Chatham Station to the Waterfront. The funding helped to create an easier journey for pedestrians and cyclists with improvements made at Chatham Station, New Cut Junction, St John's Square and Military Square.

FrancisKnight commissioned Lead Artist Christopher Tipping to deliver permanent public art works for the scheme as part of the public realm improvements. Working closely with LDA Design and Project Centre, Chris has contributed to the masterplanning, detailed design phases, materials palette and embedded art works.

Chatham is full of history, streets where wars were won, celebrations were held and Charles Dickens walked. To celebrate this, in the summer of 2016 a community engagement programme took place. Christopher Tipping collaborated with three other artists and they included; writer Rob Young, Printmaker Xtina Lamb and Filmmaker Simon Williams. During artist led workshops, school activity and community consultation, local people were invited to contribute their stories which were made permanently tangible within the hard landscaping.

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Comments Chris: "Working with other artists and the local community was perhaps the most exciting and creatively productive period of the project. There was a genuine excitement and a positive sense that we were creating a body of work that was truly collaborative in its outcomes and reach, but which also managed to display quite clearly the individual voices and clarity of each artist.  In that respect, the project has been a resounding success for me."

The circle of words at Military Square is set in Kobra granite sandblasted with text or water jet cut and inlaid with text in Royal White granite.  As well as text on the risers at St John's steps, Military Square is home to an installation of 400 bespoke radius-cut artscape monolithic blocks of granite set into a 17m diameter circle. 154 of these granite blocks have words, numbers and patterns sandblasted or inset into the surface with just over 400 words in total.

Christopher Tipping also collaborated with furniture designer maker Andrew Lapthorn to create six bespoke seats that are placed along the route.