In March 2012, I participated in a ‘Place Making’ project held jointly by the Crafts Council and Kent Architecture Centre. Encouraging the synergy between two complementary creative fields of architecture and craft, this live learning opportunity was essentially a platform for the collaboration of architects, designers and students to create an open-ended spatial response to the last major undeveloped site in the former Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham.
The Making of my piece entitled, “Architectural Fracture.”
This is a photograph of my BA Fine Art final piece entitled, “Architectural Fracture.”
It is important to study the physical and social context of the building in order to fully understand the work and its relevance. Using the context of the Galvanizing Shop, as an abandoned industrial space which has been converted into an art studio, I am creating the illusion that I have unpeeled a bricked up window as it bursts from the buildings framework at a dramatic angle and folds into the space to create a new spatial dimension.
Within the Galvanizing Shop situated within the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, there are more than a dozen windows which have been bricked up. The window tax was not relevant as it was repealed in 1851 – which meant that it was an architectural feature to simply add symmetry to the building’s exterior. The Galvanizing Shop was constructed late in the 19th century on the site of a former brick pound store for the purpose of galvanizing steel, as implies within the name. There were baths of acid and molten zinc from which the steel for onboard the ships were dipped in to prevent future rust. The function of the space dictated that there was no use for windows as they needed to retain the heat and keep temperatures up – so the fumes vented through the louvers in the roof.
I am exploring notions of stability and vulnerability through the manipulation of objects and their environments through the buckling of surfaces that appear to be melting off of the spatial perimeter. Grown from the impulse to build upon the existing fabrics of the space, I wish to provoke consideration into how public and privatized space is managed and transformed over time to reflect changes in society. Conceptually, this site-specific installation refers to wider issues surrounding notions of ‘home’ and displacement; questioning the boundaries of identity: of site and of self. My works offer a social criticism on the cultural meaning of space; the slippage of cultures and longing for a sense of belonging within an increasing globalization.
The German artist Felix Schramm creates the illusion of architecture gone askew through room-filling and disheveled configurations of sloping surfaces that are raw and menacing. Made from drywall, steel frames and wood, these site-specific installations resemble the aftermath of disasters inside the gallery – making the work and the architecture of the institution difficult to discern. His pursuit of achieving balance between chaos and order offers visitors an experience of physical tension in the museums gallery.
In architecture, the function of a building is often visible and palpable: you know what a building is used for, why the staircase is there, the light comes through the windows and doors open and close. Through these experimental works I question the role of space and ask how to invest and take ownership of it. I began to explore the congestion of space using a cluster of objects which molded into the space they inhibit. My work often has a tactile, uninviting presence as they often aggressively overtake the space–undoubtedly grown from some sort of rebellion or frustration.
In my third year I continued to use components of the everyday to act as obstacles dividing the space, forming partitions which balance precariously within the studio space. These works were far more delicate that my earlier works - gently resting upon each other meant that one slight touch and they collapse. It became important to further examine the fleeting nature of my work. My works serve as a temporary disruption, sometimes remaining in place for only a few minutes before being demolished - but always become a permanent fixture in the landscape through the use of photography.
I also experimented with the use of Photoshop and digital manipulation to alter the space – which was an important step as it meant that the works existed solely through the photographic image.
I then began to make works which blocked the use of that space entirely. What governs our movement through space – and what becomes of this space when its function is removed? By creating barriers using objects found within that space, I am creating disorder within a space intended for complete order. I began making interventions outside the studio space – blocking the staircase within my flat.
I began to experiment with the concept of layering space through horizontal bands of the debris of discarded objects in order to create functional archways. Maintaining the space’s purpose was important – as the piece was meant to only hinder the movement of people through space.
I then became interested in the concept of folding architecture – manipulating the orchestration of space with walls that both collapse and intertwine. Maquettes are representational forms that describe the structure and proposed function of an idea - allowing for the experimentation of both functional and provisional objects. It remains a proposal for an architectural space that shall never be built – which allows the freedom to float an idea in a provisional form that can easily be remade or altered. This is my model of the School of Arts Jarman building in Canterbury. It acts as a representation of decay on many levels: exploring the de-evolution and deterioration of a building; quite the opposite of natural selection. After winning the Royal Institute of British Architects Award, this £6.6 million pound, zinc-clad building – named after the iconic artist Derek Jarman- is regarded as an outstanding example of architectural practice within the region. The building prides itself on housing state-of-the-art facilities and is said to, ‘demonstrate how good design can improve learning and is exemplar for future campus architectural designs.’ Yet, why is it that the rooms within the building are small, cramped spaces without any semblance of natural light? Despite the seemingly popular consensus, this over-designed and impersonal building is not an ideal learning or teaching environment.