2005 - 08
honed, textured and cut laminated granite panels
500m of streetscape
- Permanent commission for Bank Street, Ashfort, Kent
Flume c.1175, "stream," from O.Fr. flum, from L. flumen "river," from fluere "to flow" In U.S., used especially of artificial streams channeled for some industrial purpose. Websters Dictonary
Ashford, Kent is a medieval market town that sits atop a low knoll at the confluence of several tributaries of the Stour River in Kent. Bank Street runs from the town centre downhill to Elwick Road. It is an important existing and future route into the historic town centre from south Ashford.
In 2003 David Cotterrell was appointed as artist in residence to the master-plan for Ashfords Future This was to be a major rethinking of Ashfords public realm, cultural and transport systems and was an unusual opportunity for an artist to positively affect the direction of the design process from the very beginning. For further information on this phase of Ashfords public art strategy please go here
Out of this process David developed and authored a comprehensive public art strategy that was integrated into the other aspects of Ashfords Future. He appointed me to work in a collaborative team with landscape architects Whitelaw Turkington and engineers Alan Baxter for Bank Street. The intention was that the Bank Street scheme would act as a pilot project to set the tone for the future public realm strategy throughout the town centre. David completed his work in November 2005 and RKL http://www.rkl-consultants.org.uk Art Consultants were appointed to oversee the implementation of the public art strategy.
The artwork that resulted from my appointment, Flume was the product of a process of deconstruction and analysis of the natural riparian and manmade drainage systems of Ashford and surrounding landscape. It is intended to be an abstracted diagrammatic 'river' within the 1200mm drainage zone that runs the length of Bank Street terminating at the junction with Elwick Road. In 2006 I was asked to extend Flume along Elwick Road and accordingly I designed a new section to run down toward Ashford railway station.
Flume reveals and celebrates local natural characteristics of the Stour system and Ashford's intimate historical relationship with it's rivers. It expresses water management as an integral and visible part of the public realm and seeks to reveal and celebrate the normally hidden, engineered processes of rainwater collection, conveyance, treatment, use and disposal.
Flume is a calligraphic motif that is simultaneously embedded in and separate from the surrounding streetscape. It has both organic and artificial aspects that question the demarcation between the natural river system and cultural systems of the town .
Flume is an abstracted diagrammatic 'river' that runs the length of Bank Street. It reveals and celebrates local natural characteristics of the Stour river-system and Ashford's intimate historical relationship with it. Flume expresses water management as an integral and visible part of the public realm and seeks to reveal and celebrate the normally hidden, engineered processes of rainwater collection, conveyance, treatment, use and disposal.
Flume is a calligraphic motif that is simultaneously embedded in and separate from the surrounding streetscape. It has both organic and artificial aspects that question the demarcation between the natural river system and cultural systems of the town.
It could be seen as an internal organic structure, a piece of connective tissue or a vascular network, laid out on the pavers to dry. This artwork is intended to form an integral part of the wider strategy to engage the public with current important discourses about wider environmental issues but specifically water management within Ashford. It provides a 'natural' demarcation (kerb) between the vehicular and pedestrian zones and creates a visual and functional link that ties the town centre to the railway station and further afield to the Stour River.
© 2006 Simeon Nelson. All rights reserved