Shortlisted for the exciting Chatham Waterfront Pumping Station Public Art Commission. Built in the 1960s, Chatham Waterfront Pumping Station is in a prominent location and as part of the regeneration of the waterfront Medway Development Company will reinstate its former and distinctive architectural form. The public art commission for this site will complement the building’s refurbishment and the new public space and plaza, which sits directly in front of it, acting as a backdrop. Artists were asked to consider how the building and new public space interact with each other and the wider waterfront scheme.
Chatham Pumping Station is a feat of engineering from its industrial chambers to its multitude of cogs, dials and instrument displays. I have developed my proposal, in more detail, as a result of researching the provided documents, a site visit, and visiting Chatham Historic Dockyard.
The artworks that I will develop will consist of a series of huge vitreous enamel stylized flat and three-dimensional structures that reflect, interpret and visualise the archives, data and mechanical processes of the local industries of Chatham.
My proposed approach and resulting artworks will explore the idea of ‘components’ and ‘gauges’ both as actual parts of machines, which, are essential to the running of services and industries in the area, and as a way of exploring and reflecting upon the local community, both past and present.
Research will be an important aspect of my process, and this will be done both through the engagement programme and individually. Sites of research will include the Pumping Station itself, as well as Old Brook Pumping Station, Chatham Historic Dockyard, Royal Engineers Museum and neighbouring industries such as Chatham Docks, railway, local bus station, local businesses of the development and perhaps other industries further afield.
On one side of the pumping station components will highlight the importance of workers and residents around Chatham Pumping Station who contribute to the functioning of the community.
On the other a series of gauges will measure data or values which participants will decide upon and which draw out what values or measurements which they feel are important and valued aspects of the local area and community. It could be that these two approaches are combined on both walls.
The definition of a component is a part or element of a larger whole.
Machines, like a workforce or community are made up of many parts or components, except the components are people and their families. Each individual part is important for the smooth running of the whole. If one small part is lost or broken, then the whole machine cannot function properly and breaks down. Our communities function in much the same way.