THE TABLE, London

Matthew hat in London einen Strassenpoller zu einem Tisch als Treffpunkt für die Nachbarschaft erweitert. In einer Email hat er mir über die Hintergründe seines Projektes geschrieben:

The table was conceived as a gift to the neighbourhood and particularly to the community that were displaced from the small industrial yard that I bought to build a house. They used to use the yard to gather and drink and when I bought the yard I put up a wall around it. So that they’re wasn’t a sense of hostility about my presence, I wanted to make some gesture to them, not as an apology but as a statement of intent.

shortly after erecting a wall around the site I noticed that they had started to gather around the steel posts ( bollards ) which block the end of the road from through traffic. It occurred to me that these post as barriers had all this undiscovered potential as pieces of street furniture. Why block the road with a useless post when you could block the road with a bench or a table or even a tree? I wanted to create an offering to this community which supported their occupation of the street and at the same time challenged the notion the street as simply a controlled zone for traffic. As I had no intention of engaging in a lengthy application process that would be almost certainly denied, so it also presented an opportunity to attempt to create a piece which would blend in to the extent that the city itself believed they had done it. It therefore had to be municipal enough in character to be invisible to those on the lookout for none compliancies.

The table is made from a single sheet of MDF which was cut on a CNC machine into a series of disks. These disks, when stacked, formed a curve which allowed the table to grow naturally out of the the post – similar to a classical cafe table. By cutting the inverse of the bollard profile into the core of the table it was possible to clamp it on in away that would make it quick and quite to install and very difficult to remove. The finished form was painted with black municipal paint and despite being made of a very cheap material has proved to be extremely solid and durable. It is now in its third year in the street and has only a few signs of wear. I have given in a fresh coat of paint each year and may need to do some more dramatic restoration next year but we’ll see… The total cost of materials was under £50 and the labour and manufacture was all done for free.

It has been a great delight to watch the process of its acceptance in the street. People have adopted it with surprise, curiosity and joy. Those who I have owned up to about its origins have been extremely warm and grateful. At first it was just the Ghanian community who used it to gather and drink but then slowly other signs of use have appeared. A few months ago I cam home to find a birthday party for a middle aged polish women from the neighbourhood had been formed around it. They’re is a great deal of racial tension between different ethnic communities in the neighbourhood but it seems that the table is somehow being peacefully shared amongst them.

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