By Yemi Awosile, commissioned by Tideway
Artist Yemi Awosile has been commissioned by Tideway to create an artwork for the new public realm site at King George’s Park.
The permanent Tideway commissions respond to the site-specific narratives set out in the Tideway Heritage Interpretation Strategy. The cultural meander for the West section is – ‘Recreation to Industry: Society in Transition’, the site-specific narrative references the emergence of public social policies covering housing, welfare, health and well-being formed part of a 20th century modernist vision of urbanism.
Yemi has conceived the commission to take the form of sand cast bronze elements fixed to the kiosk on both elevations inspired by furnishing fabric and domestic spaces.
The proposed artwork is to be cast in gunmetal bronze and fixed to the east and west elevations on the kiosk walls. It encompasses characteristics similar to interior fabric and wallpaper whilst being sensitive to its environment. The proposed material for the artwork is bronze; this is to create a strong visual link to the signature ventilation column positioned adjacent to the kiosk.
In researching bronze sculpture the artist came across a Henry Moore piece ‘The Draped Seated Figure’, the work was purchased by the London County Council as part of a drive to bring modern art to urban areas and to promote Britain’s post-war social recovery. Also relevant to the heritage of this site.
The surface of the work resembles both fabric and water, Yemi has taken a contemporary approach in her design but in its own way the artwork also mimics some of the movement and fluid forms associated with the river.
The main industries along the river were tobacco and textiles. In the 16th century the River Wandle was a hub for activities connected to textile dye works and production facilities linked to linen, leather, iron and copper industries. This inspired the use of metal and a colour palette based on a combination of natural dyed linen. The research for the commission drew inspiration specifically from domestic spaces and re-purposes some of the tactile sensibilities associated with interior environments by placing them outside in the park setting. The main inspiration comes from patterns found in textile structures and furnishing fabric. The artist researched furnishing fabric and wallpaper from the 1920 - 30’s to reference the time period that the park was originally opened.
This led to Yemi considering a number of different options, materials and levels of integration in developing this final proposal. The technical and construction constraints for casting pattern onto the concrete kiosk cladding have led to the applied finish. Studies looked at the casting of pattern into the kiosk elevations, but the scale of these elements were both difficult to cast and install. An applied finish to the kiosk was considered the most practical and also appropriate for ‘domesticating’ such a utilitarian structure.
The proposal can be seen as purely decorative, with the design reminiscent of tassels or runners and will provide interest and delight to an otherwise stark structure.