Behind the Scenes: Building Signage

IMG_0659

Since last autumn we’ve been informing passing visitors about MK Gallery expansion with a combination of posters and vinyl signs that can be seen at eye level on our main building and project space. But yesterday we were pleased at last to add  some boldly-scaled text signs high up on the main gallery, to further promote the exciting news of our expansion.

We’ve added a few simple words that can be read in association with the existing gallery logos on two façades.  Now, from across Midsummer Boulevard, drivers and pedestrians can easily read the message “MK Gallery is expanding” and on our main entrance in Margaret Powell, thousands of theatre-goers and other passers-by will see the message “MK Gallery reopening 2017”. This signage scheme will remain in place for most of the construction period, and is intended to be visible above the safety and security site hoardings that will enclose the building later this spring.

Behind the scenes a surprising amount of work went into getting a few words up high on the building! We teamed up with MK-based company Signarama for the project who know our building well, as they successfully instated our striking branded graphics scheme over 5 years ago. Work began last summer, with the recommendation of a cost-effective and convenient vinyl signage method, that met our brief.

Tracy Clark of Signarama explains: “As the painted rendered surface of MK Gallery’s main building has an “orange peel” rather than perfectly smooth finish, we wanted to be confident that the vinyl would survive weathering and stick properly.  For this reason we produced some sample letters printed onto vinyl with an ultra tack adhesive and applied a protective matt laminate over the top.  We then ran a test application of the letters for four months on an inconspicuous bit of wall at the staff entrance. Inspecting the test patch last week, we were satisfied that the vinyl material was up to the job and happy to proceed.

In the meantime we applied to MK Council Planning Department for the relevant advertising planning consent. Once again, Signarama provided support by producing detailed scaled drawings / photographic visualisations for the application, indicating the exact position and scale of the text on the building. We also shared the design for the signs with our neighbour MK Theatre in case they had any feedback, and we were pleased to have their endorsement of our advertising planning application from their General Manager, Emma Sullivan.

Since 31 December 2015 when we were granted advertising planning approval, we’ve had very wet weather and some lively hurricane force winds! But yesterday Signarama felt that the conditions were right to work at height to install. Taking advantage of a perfectly still, sunny, if rather chilly afternoon, they completed the task in a couple of hours, carefully avoiding the hoards of school children filing around our building at the start and finish of “Gangsta Granny” at MK Theatre.

Our thanks to Signarama for all their professional assistance. We love the results and hope you do too. Here is a slide show of some pictures taken during the installation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Green Town Group Project Starts

IMG_4412

The Green Town Group outdoor learning project started this week with a packed day of school and outdoor location visits by lead artist James Aldridge, who writes:

On Monday I visited all four participating schools, and went exploring in the two Milton Keynes Parks Trust locations we’ll be using, Howe Park Wood and Campbell Park. The two sites are so full of contrast, yet equally full of possibility.

It was brilliant to meet all the children that I’ll be working with. While visiting the four schools I showed them images of my artwork to get them thinking about what is possible – how we can use art to explore, record and interpret different places. 

The children have so much enthusiasm and loads of ideas of their own, which is great. I want them to feel real ownership of this project, and for that to happen it needs to be focused around what they themselves notice and are excited by.”

The four participating primary schools are: St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, Bletchley; Holne Chase Primary School, Bletchley; Brooklands Farm Primary School and Pepper Hill School in Bradville.

Here are some pictures taken during James’ visit to Howe Park Wood this week:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

And are some pictures of James’ research visit to Campbell Park:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Green Town Group project is supported by The Ernest Cook Trust.  For more details see website HERE.

 

MK’s Art and Architectural Heritage in the Spotlight

Demolition_hockeystadiumStreet sign

In the context of our planned main building renovation and expansion, the recent Outrage Milton Keynes talk by Tim Skelton (chair of MK Forum) proved both popular and interesting.

Tim’s talk ranged from MK’s architectural heritage losses (including the demolition of Bletchley Leisure Centre and the National Hockey Stadium near the CMK rail station) to more mundane matters such as street signage and replacement double glazing.

Taking his cue from Ian Nairn’s celebrated 1955 Outrage edition of Architects Review which drew people’s attention to the fact that places were starting to look the same, Tim described the uniqueness of Milton Keynes and the need to value its defining characteristics moving forward. He appealed for new buildings to be of the highest possible design standards and aspirations and concluded with the quote from Paul Finch in Architects’ Journal, November 2014; “How can we make this city more like itself, rather than more like somewhere else?”

In speaking with Tim after the talk he observed that MK Gallery’s City Club proposals serve to remind people of the original architectural and design spirit of Milton Keynes, and the possibility of losing this if we’re not careful. What are your views on MK’s architectural heritage? We’d love to hear from you!

Looking ahead, Tim will be speaking at MK Gallery again on Thursday 17th March. Full details are still to be announced, but the talk will be on the subject of public art in Milton Keynes in the context of Historic England’s recent protected status listing of over 40  post-1945 public artworks, including a Bernard Schottlander sculpture in Milton Keynes.

Meanwhile, you can read about the latest additions to MK’s public art collection on our website, including Sam Jacob’s temporary work MK Menhir sited above a Porte Cochere on Midsummer Boulevard. MK Menhir is also the subject of an article in the February edition of AJ magazine.

For the Transform leaflet and map detailing MK’s four new public artworks, click HERE.

Photos of National Hockey Stadium demolition and examples of local street signage courtesy Tim Skelton.

The Green Town Group – project artist and primary schools announced

Artist James Aldridge

Artist James Aldridge

Today our Learning Team has announced the artist and schools they’ve selected to participate in The Green Town Group, our pilot programme of artist-led activity designed to test new approaches to outdoor learning, supported by The Ernest Cook Trust.

Wiltshire-based visual artist James Aldridge will be heading up the project over the coming six months. His practice combines sensory interaction – such as walking, collecting and making – with research into ecology and history. Selected from an open call for artists, James has experience of heritage, arts and environmental organisations, and has worked with people ranging from pre-school children through to doctoral students.

James will be working with four MK primary schools: St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, Bletchley; Holne Chase Primary School, Bletchley; Brooklands Farm Primary School and Pepper Hill School in Bradville.

The project will involve around 130 Key Stage 1 pupils from across the four schools each taking part in three outdoor learning sessions in MK Parks Trust sites between January and July this year. Intended to enable schools to develop skills in outdoor learning in relation to contemporary arts practice, the sessions will also inspire and support teachers with cross-curricular links.

Each school’s participation in the project will culminate in a whole school celebration, involving hundreds more pupils. All children taking part in the programme will also have the chance to achieve their Arts Award Discover certificate, a scheme accredited by Trinity College London.

James says of his appointment: “I’m excited to be working with MK Gallery this year, using my practice to help bring the outdoors alive for local people. I’m looking forward to exploring the green spaces of Milton Keynes with school children and families, digging into its past together and examining its role as a home for wildlife as well as people.”

Ian Fraser, Assistant Head Teacher at Holne Chase Primary School said: “We are really looking forward to taking part in the project, especially for how it will help our children to appreciate seasonal changes in the natural environment around them, and for the skills that they will learn from an artist. This will be a springboard for more outdoor learning opportunities throughout Holne Chase, both this year and in the future.”

Bethany Mitchell, MK Gallery’s Childhood Learning Coordinator added: “We are delighted with our chosen artist and schools. As lead artist, James will devise creative activities that will touch on many areas of the national curriculum and allow resultant learning to be fed back into the classroom. And at the end of The Green Town Group project we’ll use what we’ve learnt with pupils and teachers to help shape MK Gallery’s future learning programme.”

Print

FF&E Meeting

Some of the attendees at the 11 Jan 2016 FF&E Planning Meeting

Team members concentrating on FF&E matters yesterday

Yesterday we had an extended meeting lasting most of the day to consider the procurement of FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) for the expanded gallery. This involved relevant staff and some of our professional team members (including 6a architects, and acoustic specialists Charcoal Blue in detailed discussion about the “nuts and bolts” of running the new gallery. The areas under consideration were our front of house facilities, the new Shop and Café, the multi-purpose auditorium, the learning space, and last but not least, the galleries themselves.

Kate Chadwick, Head of Operations at MK Gallery, said: “It’s really exciting to now be getting stuck into the detailed planning required to deliver this wonderful new facility for MK. We’ve been working with a retail consultant for advice on our Shop, but it would be lovely to hear from our audiences about their expectations in terms of what it should provide, or which other gallery shops they think we should consider as excellent models. Anyone with thoughts is welcome to email me via kchadwick@mkgallery.org

Visitor Information Centre promotes Gallery expansion with new film

Destination MK (DMK), the city’s official tourism and information provider, is to help raise awareness of MK Gallery expansion via a new short film it has produced for the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) which serves the city’s tourists and the wider community. Steven Gordon-Wilson, Chief Executive of DMK, tells us about it:

Steven Gordon-Wilson, CEO, Destination MKFrom this week onwards our new short film about MK Gallery will be visible 24-7 in the window of the VIC (facing John Lewis department store in centre:mk). It joins a show-reel of looped films promoting MK’s major attractions.

The film features MK Gallery’s Director Anthony Spira outlining the gallery’s current activities and signals the exciting range of exhibition and events that will be possible in the renovated and expanded building, serving bigger and broader audiences.

Our remit at DMK is to promote MK to a national audience, and inform them about the wealth of activities on offer when they get here. There is a great synergy between MK Gallery’s objectives and those of DMK, as the gallery is an important visitor attraction that feeds into the local economy, and has an international pull.

We can’t underestimate how important MK Gallery is to the cultural offer in MK as well as to the broader tourism piece.  The exciting expansion plans will only enhance this and we’re pleased that we can shout about it in our real shop window as well as our online one!

MK Gallery are founder members of DMK and via our Marketing Group and Board work closely with our organisation on a number of projects, including the newly opened Visitor Information Centre. 

Our marketing focus for 2016 is going to be heavily arts and culture based.  As the creative minds of the city look ahead to IF:2016, MK Gallery’s reopening in 2017, and other cultural milestones, it seems clear that we should be shouting about what a cultural hotspot MK really is.”

As well as being available in the VIC the film can also be seen online at www.destinationmiltonkeynes.co.uk.

 

City Club Presentation available online

city_club13

A packed audience of almost a hundred people enjoyed Gareth Jones and Nils Norman’s City Club presentation here on 10 December, and now we’re pleased to be able to share it with you via this LINK.

Gareth and Nils have spent recent months brainstorming options for developing a sequence of public spaces between Milton Keynes Theatre, MK Gallery, Campbell Park and Midsummer Boulevard – including ideas for  landscaping, enhanced signage and a new ‘playscape’ – that would create a dynamic, welcoming environment to be enjoyed, used and animated by visitors and residents alike.

In their presentation, Gareth and Nils referenced the Milton Keynes Development Corporation’s unrealised plans for a national leisure complex in the 1970s and how it had inspired their thinking, research and ideas.   Imagery alternated between a mix of Milton Keynes Development Corporation archival materials, cultural images typifying decades from the 1960s to the present, and Gareth and Nils’ sketches and models.  The audience enjoyed slides ranging from a photo of an MK playground designed by Archigram (sadly demolished), to the cover of a David Bowie album, a Biba design for a baked bean can, and the extraordinary exterior of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

Gareth and Nils shared different ways that MK has responded to the last six decades, touched on the influence of modernism and post-modernism on the public realm, and how they’ve developed their own “what if…” series of sketches, models and drawings for a series of spaces that everyone can enjoy.

The artists referred to their respect for the Central Milton Keynes grid plan, and the original city infrastructure, including key elements of paving, porte cocheres, distinctive benches, and globed street lamps. They flagged that many of these features are missing in the Theatre District and said they’d love to reintroduce some of them, suitably developed for the 21st century.  Through their City Club proposal they wish to offer people an exciting  “index of possibilities” or conceptual framework to reanimate and bring back to life the original utopian vision for Milton Keynes.

The evening finished with an enthusiastic Q&A session, including participation from some of our arts and heritage community and local councillors.  Gareth and Nils confirmed that, should funding become available, the City Club would enter an extensive period of consultation with groups and individuals, and start to address some of the scheme’s specifics and practicalities.

For a flavour of the presentation, we share this short slide show, which includes views of the talk and of the research sketches and models that the artists displayed for the audience in the next room. And finally, there is a happy picture of the Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Stephen Coventry and the Deputy Mayoress Leanne Lacy, who’d just been saying how much that they’d enjoyed the talk and how they looked forward to keeping up with the City Club’s progress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gareth Jones and Nils Norman have received support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Print