Nelson Health Centre / Sculpture

Collaboration

2014/15

Proposal: Nelson Health Centre Window Commission

 

Collaboration: Tim Alexander - Michael Crossan - Ankita Mishra - Ana Stefanovic

 

January-July, 2015

 

Our group responded to a call for proposals for a new permanent installation on the premises of the Nelson Health Centre, a brand new medical facility serving the Wimbledon area. The installation was to be situated in a very prominent position in the large front window of the building, in full view of both passers-by on the street as well as visitors and patients within.

 

Our brief laid out four principle requirements:

 

Equal attention to the look and impact of both sides

Bold, uplifting and positive emotional tone

Compatible with both new and old elements of the building

Durable and easy-care

 

In early meetings, our group discussed our response to the Health Centre’s mission as a place of healing and encouraging wellness. No matter how fortunate we are, we all share the vulnerability that comes with a physical body. Cycles of imbalance and healing will make up a significant part of our individual journeys and form a common thread in all our narratives. Moving from this idea, we proposed an abstract sculpture inspired by two intertwining strands of DNA. Making the most of its position in the window, the installation would be high-gloss chrome with threads of vibrant colour running through both strands. Finally, it would be lightweight, tough-wearing, and easy to clean by non-art-specialist staff.

 

While we were very pleased that our proposal made it through to the final four, our finishing presentation did not win us the commission. While the panel commended our use of the full space and the aesthetic appeal of the design, feedback suggested that our sculpture might be too abstract to connect in a clear way to the mission of the centre or to resonate with the public. Our proposed budget was also a matter of concern.

 

While in some ways this was a difficult experience, it was formative one for me. I learned much about teamwork, presentation skills, contracting estimates and advice, and meeting practical requirements that I would carry forward into the collaborations that followed and into my individual work toward the MFA show. I learned the extent to which collaboration requires a balance of listening and expression, of complementary skills and abilities, and a commitment to working as a team. There is so much more to a project like this than than designing and making a piece of art. Budgeting and practical issues of feasibility, professional fabrication and installation proved to be complex and time consuming. To the extent that I gained confidence and greater expertise in these areas, this experience was invaluable.