Edmiston Jones has had a practice of setting a theme each year to provoke inquiry about a critical subject or an area of research relevant to our profession. In the past, human centred design was a topic informing our office events and the workshops at our annual retreat.
This year, our ambition was to explore ‘art and architecture‘ and while this remained an undercurrent, the subject did not get the investigation it deserved. Sensible limitations on gatherings meant that our in-house events were cancelled. We did press on with workshops guided by this theme at our annual retreat however the culmination was constrained by social distancing.
Social distancing at our annual retreat.
The nexus between art and architecture remains top of mind as we continue with our mission to create spaces and places that are inspiring and extraordinary. The process from the spark of a concept to execution of the final built form can take years and, in the past, I’ve commended clients on selecting a young architect who will still be there in the end. This pitch is losing credibility as I clock up 40 years in practice!
A recent visit to the Australian Galleries in Paddington introduced me to the work of Michael Snape. The exhibition, titled The Folded Forest, was comprised of large sheets of Corten steel with drawn lines simply cut with a grinder and heated for bending. The result is dynamic pieces that speak to each other as they monopolise the exhibition space. In the artists words, ‘the sculptures made themselves out of this process revealing opportunities for both richness and simplicity‘.
A selection of sculptures from Michael Snape recent exhibition The Folded Forest.
Michael Snape posed questions in the paper that accompanied the exhibition. Asking ‘what is sculpture?‘ and ‘how can the life of sculpture be sustained?’. He also asked what constitutes clarity and, a little more obtusely, ‘when is something nothing and nothing something?‘ As architects, they are questions we might well ask ourselves as we continue the challenge of creating architecture that is both inspiring and sensible, extraordinary and yet still remaining sustainable.