Archives for category: The story so far…

 

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Being somewhat smitten by Bridlington’s old fishing cobble ‘The Three Brothers’—I felt a need to explore what it was exactly that was attracting me to the boat. Through this study, I was struck by the unique shape of the hull and how the planks gently changed direction, creating separate curves; and it was that interest that led me to discover the beautiful lines and gentle curves of the planks. And so, I meditated on the lines to see where they took me.

Further down the line (excuse the pun), I began to experiment with overlapping the plank shapes and creating blocks, and this is where the plans really began to move forward. A hint of marine-life without the obvious imagery, and, by combining the abstracted text collected from around the town’s waterfront I had the foundations for the ‘Headworks’ design.

 

 

 

 

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Mel Gooding, The Nautical Mile 1

Mel Gooding, The Nautical Mile 2

Bruce McLean - wall 2

Bruce McLean - wall 1

Bridlington’s current Promenade is a result of a major refurbishment completed in 1998, and involving artists Bruce McLean & Mel Gooding and architects Bauman Lyons. Their innovative redesign project took a truly integrated approach, where architect and artist collaborated from the outset, backed by the local authority.  The book Promenade – An Architectural Collaboration for Bridlington is a great documentation of the project complemented by insightful essays on the culture of British seaside, seaside architecture and ‘art at the edge between land and sea’.

It’s a scary thing to create artwork that will sit alongside the creations of such ‘A-list’ artists! Rest assured I have thought long and hard about my proposals and made maximum effort to ensure my work will be deserving of its position!

I have taken an approach that hopefully will result in an artwork that resonates harmoniously with  themes and ideas in that earlier scheme, whilst taking care not to replicate. I have intended the way my artwork incorporates reflections of sea, sky and land to work with their elemental themes of  Water, Wind and Sand, and for the gently curved lines of my Three Brothers imagery to complement the pared down forms of Bruce McLean’s imagery.

Mel Gooding’s wonderful text piece The Nautical Mile includes historical fact and poetic elements, and elicits interaction through it’s ‘look/see/do’ suggestions. Whilst considering the use of text within my own work I’ve been careful to take a complementary approach that is different from Gooding’s in both form and content. My use of text extracted from photographs of the seafront, collected on 1st May 2013, the first day of the bathing season, gives a snapshot of current seafront life through ‘found’ words, letters and numbers. And changing in response to the constantly varying light levels and colours of the weather, my artwork will also be interactive…

The environment surrounding Headworks pumping station is providing the inspiration for my artworks. Stunning sea and skyscapes, the strong geometry of the buildings and structures of the Promenade, and the buzzing activity of the harbour have been the starting point for developing ideas.

I want to create an artwork that is contemporary in its overall feel, something that will interact with changing light conditions through day and night. So, I propose to use mirror and glass, materials that reflect and refract light, casting shadows and projecting light onto adjacent surfaces. As a consequence the artwork will be dynamic, offering passers-by a different visual experience at different times of the day and through the changing seasons.

reflected light from mirrorsReflected light is bounced onto adjacent surfaces.

silver1

 

Through the use of partially silvered mirror, sections of artwork will reflect their surroundings. The artwork will pay homage to the beauty around it by incorporating that beauty into the artwork itself through reflections.

The main sections of artwork will face the beach and sea, and so will reflect the beauty and mood of nature in action. By wrapping the artwork round the corner onto the northwest and northeast sides of the building, the artwork will be highly visible as people walk along the promenade. From these sides, the urban environment and people will be reflected, bringing a human presence into the artwork.

 


text experiments

tide heights chartbalustrade text concept - detailbalustrade & wall panels View 3 no text

My overall aim is for the artwork to pay homage to the beauty around it by incorporating that beauty into the artwork itself through reflections.

Balustrade

The artwork I’m working on now is the decoration on the glass balustrades that will be in front of the nearby beach huts. Using a combination of mirror with clear and frosted glass, the balustrade will reflect the seascape. Text will be the main focus for the designs – I’ve been working with Jo Holmes, who’s been collecting photographs of text from around the seafront – signs, boat names, maritime charts etc. in line with our ‘snapshot of Bridlington seafront’ theme (which I’ll talk about in the next blog). I’m extracting words, phrases, letters, numbers from Jo’s images – some will be complete phrases or sentences, but most end up looking quite abstract – and incorporating them into the balustrade designs. Working with Adrian Riley, who has wonderful typography skills, we experimented with creative list-making! …inventing numerous rules to create all sorts of patterns with words, but eventually settled on using a pattern of tide heights – statistically accurate data that in graph form forms a lovely wave shape (see image below). The text will be superimposed over this shape, creating a wave of overlapping words.

adrian portrait

silly me

One of the most consistent findings from the community consultations suggests Bridlington people have a penchant for text in their public art. And with Mel Gooding already setting the bar at great heights with his poem along Bridlington’s South Bay, I have decided to add to my team by bringing in Adrian Riley from Scarborough’s Electric Angel Design. Adrian’s work is generally at the heart of much what is revered within design on the east coast and it feels great to have him on board. Having collaborated with him on several projects in the past, I’m fully convinced that he is a complete wizard of all things typography; and with an acute awareness of how letters should flow and be layered within design, I am fully confident that he will be able to bring typographical harmony to this element of the brief!

Also on board, for his interest in the story that lies behind an image, and capturing a character is Jø Holmes. His strong sense of composition and design—and an eye for the quirky detail that usually goes un-noticed—makes him perfect for his role of photographing found text for our 1st May Bridlington Harbour ‘snapshot’.  His ability to strike up a conversation and wheedle a story from with all who pass in front of his lens means we had a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of the harbour and seafront environment.

* I, grace hardy (age 9) have just come from grandmars and started to invade the cherry cake whilst curiously looking at the writing above though i hardly under studd it. the groan ups laughed happily once they finished gobbling  down their own piece of breath taking, luscious, phenomenal ,gorges , cherry cake inside the house away from the turbulent weather.

*Hijacking the keyboard here is my young daughter Grace who has been keeping up the team’s morale by baking the cakes!

 Three Brothers

One of the great perks of receiving a commission like the Headworks project is the licence it grants to roam and discover a new borough, or a place that we sometimes overlook. Now after numerous visits I’m really beginning to have a true affection for Bridlington and its warm and friendly people, whilst being equally absorbed by its fascinating layers of history.

Originally named Bretlinton and Burlington before settling as Bridlington, the town’s shipbuilding records date back to 1401 and there’s evidence to suggest that a mediaeval harbour thrived as early as mid-16th Century. Obviously, not all the inhabitants eeked out their livelihoods from sea and boat-related activities, and Bridlington has other strings to it’s bow – but with the Headworks building sitting proudly on the promenade overlooking the wide-open North Sea, this maritime legacy is proving a significant draw. Despite the gradual demise of the town’s boat building industry Bridlington’s harbour still has plenty of magic, and watching from the port’s mezzanine it was mesmerising to see the harbour spring into action as the fishing boats returned to land their day’s catch. Chatting to fishermen’s wives and families gave a real sense that seafaring adventures are very much alive.

I also visited the Bridlington Maritime Museum and one of it’s leading lights, Mike Wilson, for a shortcut to memory lane. Hearing such enthusiasm for the town’s history and listening to stories about the heroics of lifeboat man Kit Brown was just the kind of introduction to Bridlington’s history I’d hoped for. However, it was Mike’s tour round  the harbour’s boat sheds for a look at his latest restoration project where the main spark of inspiration was ignited. The Three Brothers, an old sailing cobble built in 1912,  is possibly the only one of it’s kind still in the waters and sailing today. The timbers were being lovingly repaired or replaced, and it was the changing curves and lines of the hull that struck me as a real possibility for inclusion in my artwork ideas.

Here are a few other things that I discovered about the infamous seaside resort on the east coast:

* Lawrence of Arabia served his final days in the Navy stationed in Bridlington.

* In 1890, two Hawaiian Princes set a UK first when they braved the North Sea and went surfing in Bridlington!

* Princess Elizabeth’s first official engagement was to Bridlington, in 1944.

* Bridlington used to annually host The National Domino Championships ..until toppled by a scuffle breaking out –  in Britain’s only known case of ‘Domino Hooliganism’.

* The Spa isn’t just for lovers of Chuckle Brothers and Ken Dod – Morrisey and Bowie have both been lured by the town.

Creating an artwork that is in harmony with the Promenade as a whole is a must. I want my work to add something unique to the seafront whilst still being a ‘team-player’, being sensitive to the environment around it. Including sections of mirror in the artwork will go part way towards this, as the colours of the sky, sea, and the promenade will become part of the work itself.

Here’s a few shots of the promenade that I’m using to keep this harmonious way of working at the forefront of my thoughts.

The Promenade…

Prom detail montage 2

…and the sea

sea montage

 

With the information gathered from the consultation sessions firmly in place, it was now time to start researching – a process that would hopefully spark ideas for the artwork.

I needed to really get a feel for Bridlington’s seafront – it’s beauty, it’s life, it’s energy and it’s people. My aim is to create artwork that of course can be appreciated for it’s aesthetic beauty, but very importantly has relevance and means something to the people that will see it, perhaps every day. So I set off, camera and sketchbook in hand, to explore the Promenade, the harbour and Bridlington in general.

At this point I had a completely open mind regarding what the artwork would actually be. Although I had already decided I wanted the artwork to reflect the land and seascape surrounding it and to bounce light around, and I knew from the consultations that text could well feature strongly, I didn’t know what imagery the artwork would actually contain. I knew I wanted to come up with something that would be a harmonious part of the environment, so looking at that environment in a very detailed way seemed a good place to start.

The geometry was the first thing that hit me, strong stripes and grids within the architecture of the Headworks building itself. The sunlight created wonderful abstract patterns, which slid across the building and changed shape as they went.

Headworks geometry

The Promenade and the beach were inspiring for their pattern and geometry too…

prom & beach geometry


spa mix edit
Having heard the thoughts and ideas of the young people at Bridlington Secondary and HIlderthorpe Primary Schools – the next step was to introduce the ‘Headworks’ project to the general public and listen to a broader stream of views from the local residents. So, this time I packed up all my samples, home-made light-labs, scissors, tissue-paper along with the kitchen sink to spend the day at the Yorkshire Water’s consultation day hosted by the Bridlington Spa.

Collaborating with Yorkshire Water and their construction team Morgan Sindall Grontmij, along with the project’s architects/engineers ARUP – we set up camp within the Spa and welcomed a host of people that had drifted down to air their thoughts on the Coast to Boast About Initiative.

Met by a universal keenness and willingness; visitors immediately rolled up their sleeves and set to work playing with the light-labs. People seemed genuinely united and excited to be included with the design process and made use of the ideas board by sharing their thoughts on post-it notes. Despite having to now juggle with lots of these contrasting ideas and preferences that were put forward, surprisingly, there was one strong design theme that surfaced from all of the consultations   ..you like text, I hear you Bridlington! Thanks to the students of Hilderthorpe and Bridlington School and everyone who made it down to the Spa for those very enjoyable and insightful chats, I really hope to create something inspiring that we can all be proud of.

primary ecole layers1a

I’m back from another short commute down to Bridlington Bay to gauge a little more about what young people would like to see from their public art; and this time I’ve been hanging out with the lovely folk of Hilderthorpe Primary School. Again equally inspiring minds offered further creative fuel with their thoughts on what they would like to see from the artwork on Bridlington Headworks.

The students beamed with enthusiasm and their tenacity to play and create was so very infectious. While the rest of the school started eagerly filtering out to go home, to my surprise,  many of the children were still beavering away and creating some pretty interesting light reflections.

Great day, thank you to all at Hilderthorpe.

primary ecole layers