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Unpicking Places – Effective Collaborations with Artists

Unpicking Places – Effective Collaborations with Artists

This month we’ve been gone back to our roots – curating an art exhibition in a gallery!

Published date: 18 July 2022

In addition to our usual work, developing strategic public art plans, commissioning new artworks and managing ongoing projects which take us out and about to sites across Kent and beyond, it’s been interesting to work alongside a long term collaborator of ours artist Chris Tipping to curate ‘unpicking places: ways of making’.

Having delivered creative projects in urban public spaces for over 30 years, Chris has become well-practiced in what he describes as ‘creatively ‘looking’ … surveying spaces’ and ‘gently unpicking them’.

The exhibition brings together a range of both his conceptual and completed work that responds to the theme of place. Most notably, it includes a range of recent and current commissions undertaken across Medway’s flagship waterfront developments.

Rochester Riverside is a large-scale ongoing project that we’ve worked on closely with Chris, as you can read about here on our website along with a more detailed case-study. We’ve known Chris for many years and have enjoyed partnering on other projects together such as Chatham Placemaking and more recently, at Alkerden too.

Chris’ involvement in each of these commissions has shown the positive impact an artist can make when brought on board from the very inception. His exhibition demonstrates, how the power of an artist can add huge value throughout the development and construction process – influencing a wide range of decisions along the way such as concept development, material choices and how the public can interact with a space. You will be surprised at the amount of research an artist like Chris brings to the table.

We are aware that there may be resistance to bringing an artist into a design team from the start. There may be a perception that an artist will slow things down, make things more complicated, or add additional costs. But we have found over and over, how in fact, it is quite the reverse – as artists bring a completely fresh perspective and a new approach to creative problem-solving – complementing the work of architects, landscapers, engineers and others already making a contribution.

If you’d like to get more of an insight into how Chris’ collaborations work in practice, take a listen to our podcast conversation with him and Landscape Architect Mark Fisk, and come and take a look at the exhibition, at Rochester Art Gallery from 28 July – 14 October 2022. Please drop us a line if you do as we’d love to hear what you think.

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