Nathan’s benches were a very visually strong element of this project and were really well received by the public. Nathan always works creatively with a brief to produce well-crafted and carefully thought through artwork. He is a seriously talented artist and illustrator.
When talking to Solent Showcase Gallery about the BENCH project, it was clear to me that they were particularly interested in the community engagement aspect of the design. As an artist that specialises in lettering and delivering positive messages to communities, this perfectly aligned with my own feelings with regards to public art and further reinforced that I didn’t want my bench designs to be simply decorative. Benches are physical and ergonomic objects that are designed to be interacted with on a daily basis, so I wanted the designs that I created to reflect that.
As a type specialist, I believe that words are the most simple and direct way of connecting with a public audience. I also believe that when connecting with communities, the best way is to start small and first make connections with single individuals. I wanted my bench designs to create small personal moments for each individual who interacted with them. Once enough of these small one on one interactions have been achieved, before you know it the work has had a positive impact on a large portion of the community as a whole.
The focal point of the designs is the large lettering on the back-rest section of the bench. The lettering subtly draws inspiration from traditional typography used when signposting the historic significance of the Bargate area, where the benches will be situated. The lettering also has a slight contemporary twist to make it more visually intriguing and the letterforms are subtly laying back as though they themselves are taking their own advice and taking some time out of their busy schedule to REST & RELAX. This is the message that I hope to convey to the public, to take a moment to slow down their pace and be still. Once the curiosity of the colourful object pulls them closer to the bench, they are greeted with the smaller text on the seating section, which delivers another calming message to encourage a moment of stillness and reflection.