West Heath School in Seven Oaks approached me in 2015 to create an artwork that would highlight the rich history of both the school, and the building it occupies.
The school’s head Christina Wells had researched a timeline, and we discussed various forms the artwork could take to include all the key information uncovered.
The location identified to hang the new artwork was the very grand, oak panelled entrance hallway to the school, with elaborate carved frames and a sweeping staircase. The venue is additionally used for events such as weddings, and although the artwork needed to command a presence, it also needed to be in keeping with its surroundings. The school aims to rebuild young damaged lives through education, and thought was given to how an artwork might fit in this environment, where students are recovering from trauma.
After editing the timeline information, I used the convention of honour boards to design an artwork that fitted the space and could accommodate all the text. The history of Ashgrove House, its owners and the development of its buildings and grounds sits alongside that of the history of the school, charted through its principals, students and achievements. The design of the board echoes the building’s architecture, and how its two channels of occupants have shaped it.
I worked with furniture maker Andrew Lapthorn from Chatham Historic Dockyard, for the creation of the board. He skilfully reflected the contours of a beautiful panelling details in the hallway for the frame of the board. It was then stained and varnished by Rochester-based signwriter Mick Pollard, who hand painted thousands of letters, added logos and crests, and gilded the names of the owners and principals. The board was installed January 2016.