Art installation to challenge Essex stereotypes

February 2013

Image for press release
(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Another Way: An Illuminated Essex Vernacular

An installation at Writtle College – 6 March to 14 March 2013

Third year Interior Architecture and Design students and staff at Writtle College are creating an art installation reflecting the county’s rich architectural and agricultural identity.

The illuminated and interactive installation – entitled Another Way – will be made in the College gardens over a week as a live design project.

To be created by the students prior to their major degree project in 2013, the installation will intend to challenge the populist media perception and television portrayal of Essex by focusing on one of the county’s distinctive architectural features - the weather-boarded barn.

The students will be incorporating elements allowing interaction with the audience, which will enable them to listen to audio recordings of genuine Essex dialects and engage with other Essex facts or stories.

The students are making the installation with the assistance of Writtle staff members, funding it with the generous support of B&Q Chelmsford and Tiptree’s Lordship shop, which is opposite the main College campus. The installation will open on 6 March.

Huren Marsh, who is leading the project with the Year 3 students, said: “I drive into Writtle from North London via the M11 and the A414. During my journeys, I became aware of the unusually high number of weather-boarded barns along the A414 and started to make a photographic record of them. On doing some further research on weather-boarded buildings, I subsequently found out that this type of architecture was a particular Essex vernacular. I have a particular interest in public sculpture and have developed a number of illuminated installations over the last ten years. The idea for this installation grew out of these converging interests and observations.

"Recognising that Essex sometimes isn't portrayed as favourably as it deserves to be in the press - the 'Essex man' or 'Essex girl' - we aim to challenge the stereotypes of Essex by highlighting other aspects of the county identity, inviting people to look at Essex in Another Way.”

As a live collaborative project, the 20 students have been divided into four teams which represent a notional multi-disciplinary practice with the following roles: curator, project manager, graphics and communication, design and fabrication and overseen by a commissioned designer/co-ordinator, Huren.

“The students have consistently worked as a team and have shown great initiative and commitment which will, on completion, be a magnificent effort,” Huren added.

Caroline McCabe, 53, from Danbury in Essex, is one of the students involved in the project. She said: "I am an Essex Girl born and bred and proud of it! I really hope Another Way will help change the perception, or at least make people stop and think.”

Another student, Julia Ware, 21, from Chatham in Kent, added: “We have found this a really inspiring and educational project - one that we are so grateful for, as this has helped us understand the importance of working within a team and exactly how much hard work will be involved when we go out into the practice."