Dorset maker Alice Blogg and Common Ground have been commissioned by the Arts Development Company and Dorset Coast Forum for their river Lim path improvement project: ‘Perching Places’
About Perching Places
A number of innovative wooden benches will line the river Lim for people and animals to use. The architecture of these benches will create places for walkers and wildlife to rest. The designs will be shaped by the conversations with experts, their observations along the path and their extensive knowledge of materials and the environment.
We spoke to Alice Blogg and Common Ground’s Artistic Director Gracie Cooper to find out more
Storytelling through design
Narrative will play an important role. They will take you on a journey through the history of the River Lim path, which winds through woodland, runs alongside the river and connects Lyme Town Mill and the village of Uplyme. Stories of industry and ecology unique to the area will be incorporated into the benches. Grace Cooper elaborates:
“Storytelling is crucial to this project, particularly how the River Lim connects industries: weaving cloth, flax mills and a bakery. We will also be looking at the environmental issues around the river itself, and using soil from the location to create paints for the benches. We’re thinking absolutely every element through and looking at what’s locally distinct in order to create something really successful.”
Space for local wildlife will be created in and around the benches. Alice hopes her creations will not exclude any species, but rather their versatility and multi-purpose design will encourage a whole host of animals to use them. For example, a thatched roof can provide shelter for a squirrel and nesting material for birds.
Sympathetic and Sustainable making
Sustainability is key to both Alice’s practice and Common Ground’s ethos. They strive to make places that are both kind to the environment and sympathetic to the surroundings. This sometimes means the common way of doing something has to be challenged and changed. Alice elaborates:
“It’s the challenging that’s important, and what really helps the environment.”
They are currently finding a way to secure the benches in place without using concrete, a material that can dramatically disrupt the ecosystem.
Engaging the local community
Throughout this project, Alice aims to engage local communities in the making and design process. Alice believes public installations should not only meet the needs of the community after they’ve been built, but during their creation as well. Gracie explains:
“There’s something about health and wellbeing that’s really important here. People need to feel proud of where they live.”
Collaboration brings together a community and forges a stronger bond between a new installation and its location. It also takes advantage of local talent and feeds into the economy.
Building a legacy for sustainable placemaking
Common Ground plan to use this project as a blueprint for other placemaking and sustainable architecture. Gracie explains:
From this one project we can talk to other communities, other landscapes, other rivers, other makers about similar projects. We’ll write a very short manifesto which will help people when they come to do their own. We may even do a little pamphlet or something that we can distribute.”
‘Perching Places’ should be installed by the end of August 2019; please keep an eye on our social media for further updates.
This project is part of the Dorset Coastal Connections, a portfolio of 18 projects along the Dorset Coast which aims to support and boost the economies of Dorset’s coastal areas. The project is being funded by a grant from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund and partner organisations and is coordinated by Dorset Coast Forum.Find out more here
About Alice Blogg
Dorset-based designer and maker Alice Blogg uses locally-sourced wood to create beautifully considered installations and furniture. People and place are at the heart of her practice; they inform her designs and shape her vernacular and environmentally-conscious approach to making.Visit Alice’s website here
About Common Ground
Common Ground is charity based in Dorset, which has been at the forefront of community conservation and environmental education in England for the last thirty years. They are a small, grassroots organisation that collaborate openly to reconnect people with nature and inspires communities to become responsible for their local environment.View Common Ground’s website here