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Artist Statement

Rob Colbourne & Stuart Mugridge

Digbeth Public Art concept

1. Industriality, Digbeth and the coach station.


The boundary ‘fencescape’ – that it is not ‘one object’ but an ‘array of related
features’ – a landscape of relations. In effect the individual components aim to
provoke a sense of intrigue, whilst creating other effects holistically throughout
its structure.
The old station’s interior candidly exposed its raw industrial construction when
looking upward to the ceiling. Aiming to maintain that authenticity, whilst
reinterpreting this into something new, the boundary fence explodes this raw
grittiness outwardly to the edges of the apron, the old interior becoming
exterior, following the ethos of this re- development.

2. Forms and the Directionality of Weight.


Merging the old station’s identity and that of the forms of a weighbridge, the
individual components that make up the boundary, perhaps, in effect turn the
whole site into a kind of weighbridge, where people are loaded and unloaded.

*These individual components also lean, playing with their own notion of centre
of gravity, the horizontal and vertical. They are formed by folding a flat sheet
into a 3D form, in itself something that can balance. This fold allows us to
experiment in how the structure can lean up to its ‘tipping point’.

This leaning gives us notions of architectural balance, or something that implies


a moment of rested potential movement.

3. Solid and Slitted structure; Movement and Flow.

The boundary is about the experience of it, not necessarily the object itself.
From passing it at different angles and perspectives, it can seem to be quite
solid, though your own movement, gaps appear between haunches. From
entering at another angle, the L shaped haunch allows for a ‘slit’ to open up that
allows visual access to the apron. This references the iron ‘slitting’ process of
the Lloyd’s mill, previously linked to the site whilst embracing the notion of
‘motion parallax’.

The L shaped haunches placed side by side have a unidirectionality that allows
for a different effect depending on the angle of approach. Through this it aims to
embed the notion of the language of a station and public transport, symbols
that promote travelling in a space of transition.

4. Transparency
The gaps between haunches are quite important. As a fence it requires no
horizontal element to hold it together. This in effect created a continuous
vertical gap that can suggest that the boundary invites you to visually
experience the space beyond, whilst at some points it seems comparatively
solid.
Indeed, through our research in this area we have noted that Digbeth is full of
glimpses into workshops, factories and so forth, through grilles, fences and
shutters. However often fences and other restrictions can seem hostile and
separating public and private space in quite an unfriendly nature.
The boundary fence both aims to maintain this character, but not the sense of
restriction and negativity associated with that. Therefore we can see and
experience what goes on in this area in a friendly way, reinterpreting the
important identity of the area and visually blur the notions of the public and
private space.

4. Colour and Finish


The boundary fence and its components, of an industrial nature would lend
themselves to a contrast in their colour and treatment. This treatment can echo
the way Avery’s products were treated, as both raw functional objects, with also
a sense of the ornamental. These practices in ‘japanning’ (a type of enameled
gloss finish) and the tensions between an industrial structures being finished in
this way begin to merge and echo the sensibilities of the place.

The use of Red as a colour shouts loudly through the site’s history. Used in
decorating Avery’s weighing apparatus, it also became a motif for the site’s
occupation by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Company Limited -
also known as Midland Red, who aimed to ‘ Paint the Midlands Red’ with their
fleet.

In the same vein this colour would be very recognizable as a king of alternative
signage, and links to other symbols that can be integrated within art
involvement at the station.
.
5. Lighting
The modular nature of the boundary lends itself well to a lighting system of the
same nature. Rather than a wash of light across the whole fence haunches will
be lit individually to establish a framework of visual rhythm. Lighting would be
set incrementally using groupings related to the avoirdupois system of weight
i.e. using a more imperial system of division.

Like the milled divisions on a pre-decimilisation ruler the lit haunches will be
divided into more imperial subsets of 2s and 12s. Imagine every other haunch lit
white and every twelfth lit red – the eye of the viewer measures its progress
along the expanse of the fence, or measures the movement of coaches against
this backdrop. This division although inspired by weight also begins to reference
distance as it highlights senses of movement and progress.

Through careful lighting the boundary fence will establish a balanced interplay
between light and shadow – through the use of shadow the lighting becomes
more effective. From the street side of the boundary the passer-by will have
highlighted glimpses into the station as the view inwards becomes revealed and
concealed with every passing step. Again progress will be reckoned as the spilt
white light is incrementally replaced by a glow of red light.

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