April 14, 2022

Sugar House Island’s Artist in Residence Rachel Wyld tells us about a placemaking project she’s been working on; the design and manufacture of new seating and planters for Cooperage Yard.

“The inspiration for this project draws from Sugar House Island’s industrial heritage, I wanted to create a space for people to relax in, which celebrates the site’s history. The name Cooperage Yard references the Cooperage which operated here in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The Cooperage provided barrels for the gin distillery at the House Mill and later the Royal Navy.

I designed a series of benches and planters for the yard in collaboration with local carpenter Daniel Higgins, based at Blackhorse Workshop. The benches are made from charred European Oak in a process similar to traditional barrel production. The charring of the Oak preserves the wood, transforming it to a beautiful matt black surface, one that contrasts with the reclaimed granite sets of the yard.

The benches are an irregular shape, mimicking many of the surrounding buildings and unique spaces on site. The yard is a real sun haven and benches are designed with back rests to encourage one to lay back, relax and soak up the sun.

The benches incorporate planters which support local wildlife, creating a pollinators haven whilst bringing colour and a richness of textures to the space. Sugar House Island has many pockets of nature across the site that provide local feeding and nesting habitats for insects.”

The seating and planters will arrive in Cooperage Yard at the end of April.

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