“When we look at architecture, what do we see?”
On November 5th 2017, a curious cluster of people could be seen clutching paper, pencils and clipboards at Capel-Le-Ferne Battle of Britain war memorial, studying the replica aircraft that flank one side of the building.
It was a cold Sunday in November, but the artists remained undeterred by the weather. Led by Marcia Teusink, the first of many CHALKUP21 drawing workshops explored the relationship between The Wing building, its architects, and the history of the site as a war memorial.
Initially built by Folkestone architectural practice Godden Allen Lawn, the 21st-century building was built in the shape of a Spitfire wing at the site of the memorial. Built by Kent-based Epps Construction, the building was commissioned by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust and retains a strong, purposeful link to its history and heritage. Angular lines and features jet out into the skyline and the gradients and lines demonstrate an acute attention to symmetry. In the workshop we began by focussing on the planes, looking at the most minute details and features. From this point onwards, we moved on to the building and then onto the space around the building itself, expanding our imaginations skywards and filling pages with charcoal, pencil and cuttings.
We had a brief chat with artist and practitioner Marcia Teusnik to find out more:
Have you led a drawing workshop that’s so focussed on a building before?
Usually it’s with collections or a site that included buildings, for example I did a workshop that focussed on a windmill – that was in Sandwich. But not quite like this.
I liked that you went from the minute tiny detail to big expansive play…
I think it’s important to have a mixture of both. It’s quite grounding to have the observational work initially, getting you to quieten down and slow down. But then afterwards to have some freedom to explore the materials.
It gets you to think about the shapes much more as well.
Yes, whereas if you just have freedom from the beginning, it’s often too much – too overwhelming.
Did you have an aim or goal of how people might approach the building differently?
I just had such a nice experience of coming to the building on my own and slowly exploring and figuring out what the references were in the building and all of the little details. And so I thought, instead of coming in and telling people any information in particular, it would be better if they were just allowed to have that experience and then to curate it a little bit.
Then have the discoveries and observations on their own.
Did anyone come up to you with observations they had experienced?
I think everyone did. Even though in a way although it’s obvious that the building looks like a plane, actually looking at the plane close up and then looking at the wing of the building afterwards, people can actually feel how it’s like a plane and how the architect’s details are actually really specific – how the edge of the roof is rounded, and what the seams of the metal are like. A much more detailed understanding.
Have you done any work for Dover Arts Development previously?
I did a whole series of workshops for DMAG, with about eight different venues all around East Kent. For CHALKUP21, I will be continuing a series of workshops for the different buildings along the trail.
Do you have a personal connection to Dover?
It just started out as being open to exploring it as Clare (co-director of DAD) had taken my classes in London. I love getting out to open space. My husband is Italian and we often take the ferry to Europe and come back through Dover, so now I have that connection to Dover and the trail too.
Have you walked the whole of the trail? Which area or building piques your interest the most?
I think this part of the trail. I’d never been to Capel-Le-Ferne before this project. It’s so open here, it’s like you’re practically in the sky.