Art for the people BY THE PEOPLE

Bermondsey artist Austin Emery builds a community sculpture with the local residents of Tyers Estate, SE1 by George Swinton

if you had walked past the entrance into Tyers Estate off Bermondsey Street on any weekend over October you would have heard the distinctive rhythmic sounds of chisels chopping into chunks of stone, while the local sculptors busily carved out their work.

Everyone was totally engaged in creating sculptural ‘fragments’ in stone that the artist, Austin Emery, will compose and assemble into a permanent artwork for the Tyers Estate. Set in stone will be the chisel chops, cuts and marks that embody the collective expression of the community.
Austin Emery Community Art Rubble

The artistic aim of the project is to open up and connect the mix of people in the area through local involvement and a sculpture process. Austin says, “This isn’t an exercise in craftsmanship; instead it’s about engaging social connectivity and collective creativity to stimulate the artistic sensibility through the physical labour of working the stone as direct sculpture”.

“set in stone will be the chisel chops, cuts and marks that embody the collective expression of the community

The first successful wave of productive workshops is now finished and there are approximately 50 unique stone sculptures, which will be assembled together to form the larger collective work. The next phase of the project involves composing the pieces and bringing them together in the same way, as one would make a collage of cut or torn pieces of printed material.

Austin says, “It will be like putting together a three dimensional puzzle of random sculptural stone pieces… each with its own unique size, shape and meaning to the sculptor who created it. With each added piece we must consider the overall form, composition and symbolism of the finished work in its entirety. I will use traditional architectural stone masonry and fixing methods to ensure the structure is solid and durable so as to withstand the test of time.”

To get a feel for how the finished piece will appear when completed early in 2013 take a look at Austin’s own work which shows an organised and smooth natural quality to stone sculpture with classical architectural references. Though the many individual works contributing to the Tyers Estate piece have their own distinctive flavour it is Austin’s job to now pull them together into a single cohesive end result.

Austin has worked as an architectural stone carver on historic buildings around London for 15 years. He has been living on Whites Grounds Estate, off Bermondsey Street with his family for 6 years.

Anyone interested in joining the next project is welcome to send an email or call Austin to leave details so they can get on the mailing list.

This project has been made possible through the support of Southwark Council’s Community Council Fund, Cleaner Greener Safer scheme, Leathermarket JMB, Team London Bridge and PAYE Stonework.

To get involved in the next project or get on the mailing list contact
t: 0775 983 4652

Austin Emery Community Artist Children

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